Khasab is the capital of Musandam province which is an exclave of Sultanate of Oman. Khasab is a popular destination in the Middle East and is famous for its gorgeous fjords and scenic Dhow Cruise Rides. This is the perfect international weekend getaway with family and friends (without having to actually take a flight out of the city).
Best time to Visit: November to April, while it is cooler in the middle east.
How to Reach :
There is no direct bus/flight to Khasab as it is one of the remotest areas of Oman. UAE residents usually visit the place in their personal vehicles. There are various travel agencies that take care of Pick up and drop off to Dubai.
We booked our Khasab Dhow Cruise tour which had the pickup and drop off to Discovery Gardens (We were charged extra because DG is quite far from the main pickup point)
Visa: Our Oman Visas were taken care of by the agency. They had taken our passport and UAE visa copies and all we had to do was get the UAE exit stamp and Oman Entry stamps at the respective border crossings. The entry is different for different nationalities and the residents of the GCC region. I would suggest checking the government websites for the visa requirements.
We started off at 7 AM in a Mini Van. There were other tourists as well. We reached the Omani Border (Via Sharjah-RAK) at around 9-9:30 AM. There was a little waiting time at both the border checkpoints for UAE exit stamping and Oman entry stamping.
The Road leading to Khasab is scenic with a stunning coastline. Since we were on a group tour, our driver did not stop anywhere for the pictures. We had booked a half day Dhow tour in the traditional Omani dhow. That is the best way to enjoy the scenic Fjords. Once we reached the harbor, we boarded the Dhow assigned to us at around 11 AM. We were almost 20 people in the Dhow.
The Dhow had lower and the upper deck, and was very clean with traditional carpets and cushions to sit on. We decided to take the lower deck as the upper deck was an open one. We were welcomed warmly by the staff who served us fruits and Rose tea on arrival.
Once the trip commenced, the guide on board briefed us about the safety procedures and general rules to be followed. We spent the first hour lazing on the deck and enjoying the beautiful fjords that were formed over thousands of years. Honestly, we couldn’t get enough of the views.
Occasionally the tour guide showed us the tiny villages by the coast. Boats are the only means of transport to those fishing villages. However, the government has provided all the villages with power supply, mobile network, and potable water. The place is so remote that the kids have to take boats every day to reach schools in the mainland.
We also spotted pods of Dolphins. This was the first time that I was seeing the dolphins in their natural habitat. But I was saddened when I saw other cruise guys trying to hamper the dolphins and trying to take their motorboats over them. It is one thing to enjoy seeing them swimming happily and another trying to disturb their habitat.
After an hour or so, we reached near the Telegraph Islands. The name as “Telegraph” comes from the telegraph-cable repeater station built on the island in 1864 by the British. The place is abandoned and is an eerie reminder of the bygone British Era.
We stopped a bit ahead of the Telegraph Island for Snorkeling. The Dhow Cruise is equipped with the life jackets and the snorkeling gear. As I don’t know to swim, I was very close to the Dhow and just ducked my head into the water. The underwater life in the region is really mesmerizing. We spotted a few coral reefs and cute colorful fishes. Mr. M had ventured further into the sea and unfortunately, he jagged his leg to one of the rugged rocks. The water was freaking cold and it also started to rain. We all had to board the Dhow because of that.
After a quick change of clothes, we had our buffet meal on the Dhow. The meal was simple yet sumptuous. It consisted of Kubbus, Hummus, Biriyani , Rice and Curry, few salads and cool drinks to go with it.
After that, we spent more time cruising around and the guide showed us some really interesting rock illusions like the rocks in the shape of birds and animals. The cruise almost took us around 5 hours. The hosts in the Dhow made sure we are hydrated throughout the trip. There was all you can have a supply of water and cold drinks. We returned to the harbor at around 4:30 PM.
Like I said earlier, this was a group tour and we were not allowed to have the pitstops. I would have loved to visit the Khasab fort and other local fishing villages. Well, there is always the next time
We reached the Omani border around 5:30 and finally back home around 8 PM. I will definitely recommend visiting this place if you have an extra day in hand on your trip to Oman or UAE. It would also be great to spend the night in the Khasab area so that the entire experience won’t be rushed like ours.
Here are some Pro tips if you are planning to visit Khasab or Musandam
• Carry your original Passports. Copies are not accepted.
• Carry a pen with you. The visa checkpoint needs you to fill the entry form.
• Keep the UAE currency handy to pay at the border crossing.
• Do not click pictures near the border crossing checkpoints. They confiscate the phones. ( Happened to me and later had to apologize and delete the pictures in front of the authorities )
• Carry spare clothes if you are planning to get into the water for snorkeling.
• Jackets are recommended if you are visiting during the winter.
• Check out the insurance requirement if you are driving your own vehicle.
• Keep the road map handy and also check the fuel before leaving.
• Carry an underwater camera if available. Unfortunately, we couldn’t capture those images.
• Carry your own food /medicines that are specific to you/your kid. Even though there are first aid kits in the Dhow, specific items will not be available easily.
• Dhow rides can get boring, if you are going as a couple or alone, carry your own entertainment.
Have you been to Khasab Musandam? How was the experience? Any more tips that you would like to add? Comment below
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