The Sultanate of Oman’s Musandam Peninsula enclave contains some of the most spectacular seascapes and mountainous terrain on the Arabian Peninsula – including dozens of fjord-like ‘khors’, where sea cliffs hundreds of metres high drop down directly into sparkling Arabian Gulf waters. It’s a dream destination for adventurous travellers and explorers.
As an enclave of the Sultanate of Oman, the Musandam Peninsula is separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates. It juts out into the Strait of Hormuz – the narrow entry into the Arabian Gulf – from the Arabian Peninsula. Covering only around 3 000 km2, the Musandam is the smallest governorate in the Sultanate.
The port of khasab, with its picturesque harbour and small town, is the capital of Musandam and the main launching point for dhow cruises, dive trips, sea-kayaking, mountain treks and other adventures.
One of the defining Musandam experiences is a multiple day sailing trip (or even just a short sunset cruise) on a traditional wooden Omani dhow. It makes for an unforgettable adventure that combines the best of Oman’s maritime heritage, with the best of the Arabian Peninsula’s shoreline and sea.
Another favourite dhow adventure is a cruise to the Telegraph Island – the small rocky island that was used as a base to boost telegraph messages along the London-to- Karachi undersea cable in the 1800s.
There are over 20 well known dive sites in the area. The Musandam Peninsula’s deep water fjords are where an abundance of underwater treasures can be found for all levels of scuba diver – from beautiful wall dives, to coral gardens, to shipwrecks, and an incredibly rich diversity of marine life.
Some of the fishing villages located around Musandam are hidden away deep in the fjords and have remained isolated from the rest of the world for hundreds of years. One of them is Kumzar, which has been inhabited for hundreds of years, and which is still only accessible by boat.
Built in the 17th century by the Portuguese, Khasab Castle has overlooked the Strait of Hormuz for many years. These days, you can visit the castle’s central tower, which houses a display of ‘jerz’ – the traditional long-handled axes carried by the tribesmen of Musandam – along with other exhibits.
At just over 2 000 metres high, Jebel Harim is one of Musandam’s most prominent peaks. It’s a steep climb to the top (either by hiking, or by four-wheel-drive), but once you’re at the top, the views are spectacular. Bring your camera!
Dolphin watching tours out on the fjords can easily be arranged with one of several tour operators based in Khasab.
With a large fishing community in Khasab, and a handful of small fishing villages dotted around the peninsula, Musandam is well known for its seafood dishes and freshly grilled fish. Of course, there’s nothing like catching your own dinner, and it’s possible to charter a local boat to go on a day’s fishing outing and do exactly this.
Getting to Musandam
Oman Air flies daily to Khasab, from Muscat. It’s also possible to drive from Muscat to Musandam, but you’ll have to enter and exit via the UAE border control points, which require the necessary entry visas.