21 August 2017
The Sultanate of Oman is the oldest independent state in the Arab world. Tourism is on the rise, with diving being one of Oman's attractions.
The coastline extends 1700 km from the Strait of Hormuz in the north, to the Republic of Yemen in the south and borders three seas - the Arabian or Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. The capital is Muscat (Masqat), in the North East.
Richard Field, in his book Reef Fishes of Oman, says that there are probably between 1300 and 1500 different species of fish to be found in the coastal waters of Oman. Most can be seen elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region, but there are some that unique to this area and could be called 'Arabian' species. The diversity of marine species is greatest in the Arabian Sea, and declines northward through the gulfs.
Cuttlefish in Oman by David Collins
The northerly Arabian Gulf is very shallow - its average depth being only 35 m. This means that the temperature fluctuates greatly around the coast from about 10 oC in winter to as much as 35oC in summer. It is also very salty due to high evaporation and low rainfall. A combination of these factors explains the relatively few species in this area. Most of the diving in Oman is therefore further south.
The main diving areas are the Daymaniyat Islands, Fahl Island and the Musandam peninsula.
It is common to dive in Oman without a guide, but if you ask for one you will be accompanied.
Although you can dive year round, the best time to go is from April to October.
A large number of mainly peaceful protests took place in 2011, with a wide range of demands, including more jobs, higher salaries, increased media freedoms and an end to corruption. In response to the protests, the head of state - Sultan Qaboos - announced a number of reforms and issued instructions to avoid causing loss of life at all costs. At the time of writing, there are no major concerns about travel to Oman: for more on the country and travel advice see the British Foreign and Commonwealth site. You should of course take out medical insurance before you travel. If you are travelling to Oman with prescription drugs, carry a copy of the prescription. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Oman.
The Daymaniyat Islands are the first Marine Reserve in Oman. The coastguard hut on Police Island has been turned into a hut for the park wardens, who monitor the boat traffic within the reserve. The fee for diving within the reserve is 4 OMR per day.
The best diving is from April to October.
There are nine Daymaniyat islands, distributed over 50 km in 3 groups: Western, Central and Eastern. They shelter nesting populations of Hawksbill and Green Turtles.
Western Daymaniyat Islands
Central Daymaniyat Islands
Eastern Daymaniyat Islands
Getting to Oman and the Daymaniyat Islands:
The nearest airport to the Daymaniyat Islands is Muscat, the capital. We stayed with Al Sawadi Beach Resort, who organised transfer from the airport.
The main sites are shown on maps above, but remember there are big distances between each of the groups.
When we were there, in August, there was a significant plankton bloom, and the visibility on the eastern islands was much worse than around the western islands. Because of deep ocean upwellings the water below about 10 m was also quite chilly (22 degrees C). A 3 mm wetsuit is adequate although on a second dive you begin to feel it.
The islands have shallow sandy seabeds on the Oman side, but on the northern side there is a steep drop off and even some walls. Typical maximum depths on dives range from 20-28m.
The features are very healthy hard and soft corals, with very little damage. Lots of shoaling fish, very many moray eels and stone fish and cuttlefish. There are also some very large crayfish, and some small crabs around. Turtles are frequently seen, and some huge ones at that. From July to September the plankton bloom also attracts whale sharks, so with a bit of luck the opportunity may arise to snorkel with one these.
On the eastern-most island the Aquarium dive is reported to be one of the best for meeting the larger sea life. We particularly enjoyed the Hayut Run dive because of the turtles and huge stingray. The dive around Sira island had the best visibility and beautiful coral life.
by Graham Collins, 2011
Video of diving the Daymaniyat Islands by David Collins of Bright Rain Photographics.
Other Views of the Daymaniyat Islands
" Daymaniyat Islands have a fantastic visual display of corals. Big leopard sharks, rays, turtles, lots of moray eels, scorpion and stone fish, barracuda, amazing variety of large shoals of fish and the occasional reef shark. Whale sharks if you're lucky. Fantastic experience, I would definitely recommend it. "
Holly Smith, 27 June 2012
" Good, gentle diving. I visited Oman at Easter, the water temperature was a warm 26 degrees, and a 2/3mm wet suit is fine. It's a great place for the novice or for people who don't like deep diving as you are unlikely to get much below 15 - 20 m in most of the regular dive sites. Saw the usual culprits: sweetlips, cuttlefish, turtles, morays, etc - lots, really. The corals were mostly hard: cabbage and plate, staghorn plus anemone coral. Not quite the same standard as say the Red Sea, but not bad nonetheless. Oman itself is a great place to visit. You must hire a car and take time out to visit fishing villages and old Portuguese forts. There are 2 main dive centres in Muscat. As I did not want to stay in a posh hotel, who have their own dive operator or sub to Blue Bubbles, I stayed and dived with the Oman Dive Centre, whom I completely recommend. "
This inland sea links with the Gulf of Oman by the Strait of Hormuz. It borders Iran, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar , the island of Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq.
" The Arabian Gulf is mucky and not as good as the Red Sea. They do have some neat fish but that is about it. They throw buses and cars in the water as a natural coral. The visibility is about 3 meters. Stick with the Red Sea. "
Oman Diving Operators and Liveaboards
This liveaboard is a charming, traditional wooden boat for those who want to unveil the hidden treasures of the Musandam Peninsula. She departs from Dibba on a Sunday for 7 nights.
Departs from Dibba on a Sunday for 6 nights. The cheapest Oman liveaboard option. This custom-built fiberglass Red Dhow has 3 decks, cabins with private bathrooms and a roomy main salon. She features inside and outside dining.
The Oman Aggressor offers a luxury experience including evening entertainment, games and 400 films available in the main salon or your stateroom. It even has a hot tub. Departs on a Saturday for seven nights from the Port of Salalah (Mina Raysut). Book now for November and December 2017 and get 33% off!
Offering the full range of PADI courses.
Located in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
More information and book diving…
Extra Divers is well organised. They have three boats, of which two or three will go to the Daymaniyat Islands. The boat departures are staggered in the morning leaving at 8:00, 8:30 and 9:00. Doing two dives at the Daymaniyat Islands means that the return time is about 3-3:30 pm. Refreshment on the boats is simple but adequate. Extra divers will also arrange night dives on the islands if there is enough interest
Operates off the beach of the Grand Hyatt and offers diving around Muscat.
The Boat House
Sultanate of Oman
Tel: (+968) 24602101
Email: [email protected]
Offer PADI diving courses and daily dive trips. Can arrange accommodation and transportation.
P.O Box 495 P.C 133
Sultanate of Oman
Tel: (+968) 926 45 889
Fax: (+968) 926 45 889
E-mail: [email protected]
Based in Muscat near the international airport. Use the Daymaniyat Islands as the primary dive sites.
PADI 5 stars Dive Centre that offers daily scuba diving courses and trips to the Daymaniyat Islands.
Sultanate of Oman
Tel: +968 95497243/95521618
Fax: +968 24737661
E-mail: [email protected]
Al Sawadi is a beach resort north west of Muscat. It takes about 45 minutes by car from Muscat airport. The resort has been managed by Extra Divers since early 2011. The resort guests mainly come from Italy, Germany and France, with a few Brits. Al Sawadi is quite a large resort, with a small village of Barka some distance away, but within walking distance if the weather is not too hot.
- Reef Fishes of Oman
- by Richard Field, 2013, 99 pages, e-book
Photographic reference guide helps divers identify the reef-dwelling fishes of Oman. Well-written, it tells you exactly what you need to know to identify the fish in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea. A snip at just 5.99 Euro.
Read our review of Reef Fishes of Oman
Available from Amazon
Coral Reef Guide Red Sea
- by Ewald Lieske and Robert Myers, Collins, 384 Pages, Paperback (2004)
Although not specifically about Oman, Coral Reef Guide Red Sea mentions when a fish may also be found in Oman. Each species is illustrated with a full-colour photograph and the text gives details of range and characteristic behaviour. A map of good dive sites appears on the inside front cover. Includes jellyfish, corals, nudibranchs, starfish, sea urchins, fishes and turtles.
Available from Amazon but cheaper at the Book Depository
- Sultan in Oman
- by Jan Morris, Eland, Paperback
Set in 1955, Jan Morris accompanies Sultan Said on the first ever crossing of Oman by motor vehicle.
35% off from the UK
Also available from the USA