Discover Musandam, the “Fjords of Arabia”, two steps from Dubai

dhow tour of musandam oman peninsula

 “Away from the Tourist Masses,

the Musandam Peninsula in Oman

is a Secret Destination for an unforgettable

adventure in the Middle East!

Imagine standing at the edge of a rugged cliff, the azure waters of the Arabian Sea stretching endlessly before you, while a gentle breeze carries the scent of salt and adventure: this is Oman Musandam – a hidden and unknown destination out of the mass tourism radar! 

You’ve never heard of it too?

I can tell you, that’s very likely that after this read you’ll add a Musandam Tour to your travel bucket list,

but let’s start from the beginning!

 

Where is the Musandam Peninsula?

MUSANDAM OMAN PENINSULA MAP

The Musandam Peninsula is a strategic region of Oman, situated at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, that juts into the Strait of Hormuz.

The peninsula, often called the “pearl of Oman”, is enclosed by the sea on one side, and by the UAE on the other (it’s only 140km away from the futuristic Dubai!).

If you’re wondering why the peninsula is separated by Oman, it’s because in 1971 when the United Arab Emirates was formed, Oman decided to keep the peninsula as a strategic outpost in the Persian Sea, and that decision was never challenged by the recently formed UAE.

Why Musandam is an Incredible Place to Visit?

oman musandam - view from top

Musandam is famous as the “Norway of Arabia”.

Nowadays, it remains an off-the-beaten-path destination, perfect for the curious and the adventurous souls.

Its isolated location at the northern tip of the Arabian Peninsula has preserved its serene beauty and rich cultural tapestry, making it a must-visit for those seeking less traveled paths.

Said that, the region is today flourishing and more ripe for adventures than ever before:

  • incredible fjords called “khors”,
  • secluded beaches,
  • marine life,
  • crystal-clear waters,
  • old quaint villages,
  • organized tours,
  • an original cuisine,
  • tranquillity away from the crowds,
  • and welcoming locals…

Sounds good right? 🙂

Nestled in this breathtaking landscape, there’s also the company Dhow Khasab Tours, the n.1 tour operator in the region, that helped us writing this article and suggested us all the best experiences to include in this guide!

Offering a range of tours aboard traditional Omani dhows, and with years of experience on their back, is not just another service, but a bridge to an extraordinary travel experience in Musandam.

Whether you’re seeking a serene cruise through fjord-like khors or an exciting mountain safari, with Dhow Khasab Tours you can be sure that the experience will be as unique as Musandam 😉

Let’s dive right in, and see what to see and do in Musandam! 

 

Let’s See 6 Gorgeous Experiences

you can Live on a Musandam Tour!

1. Take a Dhow Tour,

and Enjoy a Relaxing Journey

on a Coast untouched by Modernity

musandam dhow tour boat

Are you wondering what is a Dhow?

Dhow are traditional Arabic wooden sailing vessels, that can be found in many places around the Persian Gulf (we talked about them in another article about the Dhow Cruise in Dubai too!), and are the main transportation option to move around the Musandam Peninsula.

Both the coastline and the interior of Musandam is indeed composed by extremely rugged mountains (some rising over 2000 meters!), and in most areas there isn’t a single road to be found.

No roads, means that people can’t move on ground, but need to move by sea!

Taking a Dhow day tour around Musandam is an experience of its own: nature, panoramas, and tranquillity!

These traditional Omani boats are more than just a mode of transport: they are a testament to Oman’s rich maritime heritage: the craftsmanship is evident in every detail, from the intricately carved wooden rails to the sturdy sails that catch the morning breeze.

Taking a Dhow day-tour is more than enough to get the feeling of life in Musandam and relax away from everything: observe the mountains (silent sentinels guarding the secrets of this mystical land), enjoy the wildlife (we will see that in a second!), the breeze, the sea shore…

With the dhows gliding softly through the waters, it’s easy to notice how this corner of the world feels so untouched by modernity (despite being so close to the craziness of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general!).

The air here is filled with a sense of tranquility and timelessness: no mass tourism, no traffic, no pollution…

Just the gentle lapping of the waves against the hull, the soft creaking of wood, and the distant calls of seabirds creating a symphony that soothes the soul: it’s an experience!

By joining a Dhow Khasab Tours, you won’t feel just a traveler, but an explorer uncovering the wonders of a land that time seems to have been forgotten!

2. Enjoy the Encounters

with the Marine Wildlife

oman musandam dolphins

When you’ll be drifting along the seashore of Musandam, the first thing you’ll probably notice is how many different species of birds are there (little spoiler: hundreds! It’s crazy, believe me!).

Once you’re further away from the shore though, that’s when you’ll probably realize how the underwater world is nothing less than that: dolphins, orcas, whales, baleen whales, humpbacks…

The marine environment of Musandam, (thanks to the absence of intensive fishing), is a spectacle!

Said that the undisputed celebrities of Musandam’s marine life are dolphins, which are very easy to spot playing in the slipstreams of boats and dhows: of course, you need a bit of luck, but most of the time they’re not just a one or two, but several!

Watching a school of fish dart through the water or observing the graceful flight of the birds above are reminders of the delicate balance of nature, that same balance that is always harder to find in the heavily urbanized areas of our modern world.

These experiences highlight the importance of preserving these natural habitats, not just for the wildlife but for future generations to enjoy too.

3. Go Snorkeling in the Heart

of the Persian Golf

snorkeling e scuba in oman musandam

One experience not to miss around the Musandam Peninsula is having a peek underwater!

We talked already about birds and large cetaceans, but that’s not all under the surface!

If you like swimming, our tip is to grab a mask and have a dive underwater: there are plenty of spots where is possible to swim along schools of colorful fishes and above coral reefs.

Dhow tours around the peninsula normally include some time for snorkeling, but our suggestion is to make sure with it with your tour operator (it would seriously be a pity to miss out on this experience!).

Your local tour guides are often your best source of info (as these places are still partially uncharted!): they know the best places and if you show interest they will likely bring you there too!

If you’re a professional diver, here you can also find a list of the best diving spots in Musandam.

4. Take a Trekking tour to the Cliffs

(up to 2000meters high!)

and enjoy the Solitude of Mountain Paths

hike musandam oman

As said before, roads in Musandam are rare, mountains are high and often completely inaccessible.

Said that, if you’re into trekking multiple days, here you might find a little paradise.

Trekking paths here are lonely, and the sceneries are mountainous out of this world: some places you might want to check out are the Shem Fjords, hiking on top of the Shem Mountain (called by locals the “Sheikh’s Horn”), the “Caves”, and visit some of the nested villages such as Gasah, Qada, or Al Harf, beside of course Khasab City (largest town!).

The sporadic trees you might find on your way include Mazzy trees, Acacias, Sidra trees, and Shawa trees, while talking about fauna, you might be able to spot mountain goats, foxes, and falcons.

Last but not least, camping and sleeping on top of the Musandam fjords is a unique chance to spot the majesty of the mountains to the enchanting beach, all under an unpolluted starry sky! 

Indeed, the night sky in the region is a blanket of stars, so clear and close that it feels like you could reach and touch them!

Forget the internet and a good connection, in these places, the connection happens between humans: crackling fire, sharing stories and laughter with fellow travelers and the Omani hosts. 

It’s not for everyone, as the treks in the Omani weather are hot and require good physical and mental conditions, but the reward can be worth the trip and the sweat! 😉

5. Try the Omani Food:

a mix of Cultures at the Croassroad

between Asia and the Middle-East

Omani food

Whether you’ll be trekking through the mountains, or gliding softly on the waters with a dhow boat, don’t forget to try the local Omani cuisine.

Musandam is a region located between the Arabic peninsula and the Asian continent, with a long story of invasions: in order, the region was under Persian control, Arabic control, Portuguese Control, and in the centuries has also been strongly impacted by Brits, Turks, and Indians.

All these cultures together, gave birth to the unique language of the region (called “Kumzari”) and the explosive mix of Omani cuisine you can experience across the peninsula.

If you don’t know where to start your food journey, be assured that on a Dhow Khasab Tours, you could already be treated to a variety of local dishes, each bursting with unique flavors. 

Omani cuisine, is characterized by rich spices and fresh ingredients, and the most famous dishes range from juicy grilled fish (caught the same day), to aromatic rice dishes (clearly influenced by Asian cuisine, but also by Spanish Paella) and Omani Pasta (a mixed dough of meat and butter) to spicy onion-flavored chicken.

If you’ll be traveling with a dhow, you could also join the crew in preparing a traditional meal and make it an even more memorable experience, not only by learning the local recipes but also the stories behind them!

6. Experience the Chill Local Culture and

Immerse in the Rich Cultural Heritage!

fisherman village oman

In Musandam you won’t find many people: there are only 31 thousand people in the whole peninsula!

Even Khasab “City”, the main city in the region, despite its highfalutin name, hosts barely 18k inhabitants!

You won’t probably also be able to communicate with most of the ones you cross as English is not widely spoken (they speak “Kumzari”!), except by people involved in the tourist sector.

Said that, you won’t find many, you won’t be able to speak with many, but trust us when we say that you’ll feel completely at home and welcomed here.

Tourists in Musandam are not the norm, and locals are very welcoming, happy, and proud seeing foreigners coming to visit their homes.

Life here is still modest, and an example of how gorgeous and stress-free human simplicity can be: everyone here drinks Omani coffee and is generously happy to share one with you (like with the “Cay” in Turkey to give you an idea!).

Approach locals with an open mind, and you will be rewarded with friendships and human connections that will last a lifetime 🙂

 

Conclusion

conclusion musandam

And here we are at the end of the article!

In this article, we’ve talked about the secret Musandam Peninsula and seen together some experiences that you might want to try if you happen to plan a Musandam Trip!

All in all, this hidden region is a blend of natural beauty, rich culture, and warm hospitality which goes way beyond expectations.

Of course, it’s not for everyone as it’s very much out of the map!

Said that, if you consider yourself a hodophile and you would like to give it a shot, you can be sure this place will surprise you and leave an impact on your soul: after all, getting to such places is not just tourism, it’s true traveling! 

Before going, I would like to ask you:

  • What do you think about the article? Was it interesting to you?
  • Have you already had the chance to visit Oman or Musandam before?
  • Have you ever sailed with a Dhow? Would you like to share your experience?

If you’d like to share your experience/opinion, we would be happy to hear it! 🙂

So please, let us know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading, and as always…

See you in the next article! 🙂

 

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