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Anyone been to Oman?


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#1 MikeVeitch

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 03:40 AM

Anyone been diving there? Any information on what sort of diving there is to be had there?

Walls? WA? macro? muck? what kind of animal life? Viz?

Cheers ;)

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#2 Drew

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 05:23 AM

My memories of Oman from '95 or 6 (it's a blur ;)) was decent healthy reefs with some fish but nothing I'd fly to Oman just to dive there. The marine park near Muscat was the better place to dive if I remember correctly but what I remember most was the long boat rides in the hot sun! I only dived for like 5 days so I don't know much of the area. I spent 2.5 weeks looking for cetaceans in the Arabian sea instead and can tell you more about that :) In short, the viz sucked eggs!
I think there is an active member who hails from there on WP. I can't remember who it is so you better hope he reads this. :)

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#3 Elainew

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 05:40 AM

I was there in Feb 2008. Like Drew says, I wouldn't go there just for the diving either. But it is a fascinating place to visit and also get some diving in. We were based in Muscat, hired a car, toured around and I did around 6 dives out of Muscat. Vis was poor (I have noted 5m) but there were healthy reefs. Creatures I have mentioned in my log are: lots of eels, electric ray, lobster, nudis, turtle. Nothing exceptional. The sites we dived were around Fahal Islands plus the wreck of Al Munassir. In summary - nice to dive if you are visiting for a vacation but I wouldn't go just for the diving. HTH.

#4 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 06:31 AM

I was there in Feb-March 1997. Would love to go back. We saw dolphins from the boat every dusk, right on cue. And at night we had spectacular bioluminescence - you could easily read a book by it as the boat steamed along.

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#5 PRC

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 07:40 AM

Not been there myself but have discussed the options with several dive guides and the upshot was a general agreement that the Egyptian side had better diving.

As per Alex - Dolphins came up again and again in conversation re Oman.

Same applies to Djibouti - when we were there the dives sites were no where near as rich as Egypt or Sudan.

Supposedly there is some good diving to be had in parts of Yemen - but the area seems a little 'hot' politically at the moment.

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#6 rbailey

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 02:35 AM

Hi,

I live in Dubai so I've been quite a lot.

Oman is split a few two. The main country i.e. Muscat etc and then Mussandam which is North of UAE in straights of Hormuz
Diving is okay but not that widespread. Nothing world breaking a bit like the read sea, somewhat bigger life I'd say but the viz isn't as good (and a bit greener) and but never 1000 divers one on site.
Mussandam is very wild, like a desert version of norway and the diving can be quite hard core.

Where are you going ? and I can guide you some more.

p.s. if you want to see more :-

Mussandam :
http://www.images-un...31-10-2008.html

Muscat :
http://www.images-un...s_1_8_2008.html

Cheers,
Richard B.
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#7 RedSeaDiver

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 02:39 AM

Haven't dived Oman but friends rated it as being fairly reasonable but not the same as diving the Red Sea. There might be some useful info here - Oman
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#8 rbailey

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 02:44 AM

Haven't dived Oman but friends rated it as being fairly reasonable but not the same as diving the Red Sea. There might be some useful info here - Oman


Sorry may have been unclear.

I mean same sort of life as in the Red Sea, it is just a bit bigger (in my mind).



Cheers,
Richard B.
Camera : Canon 350 D. (8MP, D-SLR, APS-C.)
Housing : Ikelite eTTL hosuing.
Ports : 6" Dome, 8" Dome and Flat port and selection of extenstions.
Lenses : Sigma 10-20mm, 17-70mm Macro, 105mm Macro (with +4 diopter).
Stobes : 2 x Ikelite DS 125.
Arms : Ikelite, 18 inch quick release (LHS) and 8"+6" standard (LHS).
AND a Yellow Box Of Delights to breath from undewater and loads of other really fun stuff.


Check out ther results at :-

http://www.images-underwater.net/



#9 RedSeaDiver

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 02:51 AM

Not been there myself but have discussed the options with several dive guides and the upshot was a general agreement that the Egyptian side had better diving.

As per Alex - Dolphins came up again and again in conversation re Oman.

Same applies to Djibouti - when we were there the dives sites were no where near as rich as Egypt or Sudan.

Supposedly there is some good diving to be had in parts of Yemen - but the area seems a little 'hot' politically at the moment.

Paul C

I took several three week long exploratory trips from Egypt all the way down to Yemen and return in the early 90's - the diving in Yemen was reasonably good - especially at Hanish al Kabir, but I probably wouldn't go there over other places in the Red Sea - especially right now.
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#10 rbailey

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 02:54 AM

Mike, have I seen you on Rebreather World as well ?

For rebreathers (I dive an Evolution) you can use them but O2 and Lime is not availible by dive centers, doubtfull they will even know what a RB is. However if you are serious can probaly hook you up with contacts.

Even in Dubai RB's are not supported we bring in Lime by the pallet ourselves and boost our own O2 as well as all sorts of helium naughtness ;)

Cheers,
Richard B.
Camera : Canon 350 D. (8MP, D-SLR, APS-C.)
Housing : Ikelite eTTL hosuing.
Ports : 6" Dome, 8" Dome and Flat port and selection of extenstions.
Lenses : Sigma 10-20mm, 17-70mm Macro, 105mm Macro (with +4 diopter).
Stobes : 2 x Ikelite DS 125.
Arms : Ikelite, 18 inch quick release (LHS) and 8"+6" standard (LHS).
AND a Yellow Box Of Delights to breath from undewater and loads of other really fun stuff.


Check out ther results at :-

http://www.images-underwater.net/



#11 MikeVeitch

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 03:08 AM

Thanks for the info and links folks.

No itinerary yet as I am not the one organizing it, will have to go where they tell me ;)

Hopefully will know more about locations soon and can add some more info into that.

No RB for me :)

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#12 PIG004

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 03:23 PM

Mike I commuted there for work for 15 years.
The diving around Muscat I found pretty good especially if you like moray eels and stingrays. Few big leopard sharks and nudis also. The cyclone from a few years ago did quiet alot of damage to the reefs around Muscat but there were still some nice sites. Whale sharks have been spotted in the area several times.

Oman in general is worth a visit just for the scenary but it can be expensive in Muscat and a buddy of mine recons the Red sea is better.

#13 gloria

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 06:01 PM

No one has mentioned the Diminiyat Islands which are quite nice diving in my opinion. My most recent of a few visits there was circa three years ago.
Get to them with a dive op located just an hour or so north of Muscat, colocated with a reasonably nice resort (At the time, was called Al Sawadi). Then a pleasant (shaded) hour or so boat ride.
I found the reefs around these protected reserve areas quite healthy, lively, fishy and colorful. Some of the critters, from trumpetfish to eels to angelfish to rays, seemed large as if on steriods. Suitable for wide angle and/or macro. Oh a few sharks as well.
Not sure I would fly all the way there just for the diving, however, I was there for business... and would say the diving was very well worth adding a few days onto the itinerary for. (Did not do any diving out of Muscat for a basis of comparison.)
Oman has a dive op also at the tip of the Musandum Peninsula, in Khassab, but I didn't have time to try it out.
Oman has a very distinct history and culture also worth exploring, the high desert mountains there are beautiful.

#14 Ferg42

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 06:05 AM

Hi Mike,

I lived in Oman for 5 years and dived all round the country and still return frequently. Generally the marine life is healthy and diverse, but we're talking mainly 'coral communities' rather than proper reefs. Visibility is variable- I've had anything from 20m plus to 1m around Muscat. Best times of year for viz around Muscat are probably November and April, but even then you can be hit by a bloom. I'll second what Gloria said that the Dimaniyat islands are probably the best diving near Muscat. In fact I'm currently involved in a project to prouduce a managemenet plan for the islands and we've been mapping the coral as part of that. Seems as though the cyclone Gonu damage was not as bad as we feared and recovery is good. In fact overall coral cover at the islands seems to have increased markedly since the 80's when we have our first satellite images.

Elsewhere in Oman, Musandam can be good, as mentioned, and for some real exploring the Dhofar region around Salalah is unique with corals among macroalgal forests. The Hallaniyat islands are great, but very difficult to get to; I DM-ed on a liveaboard wildlife cruise down there a few years ago. We had encounters with sharks, blue whales, sperm whales, humpbacks and lots of dolphins around there, but again, viz is hit and mis. Best time is probably October, just after the summer monsoon, as the viz clears up, but you still have the macroalgae. There are a few dive operations based in Salalah now.

Cheers

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#15 MikeVeitch

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 08:00 AM

thanks for the further information, all very helpful. I would really love the whales you mention Ferg! haha

Still up in the air about the itinerary, hoping to know more this week.

What about water temps? I am a complete wuss as i wear a 5mm in 29C water.. what should i expect in Feb? do i need my 7mm semi dry?
:)

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#16 Drew

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 08:19 AM

Elsewhere in Oman, Musandam can be good, as mentioned, and for some real exploring the Dhofar region around Salalah is unique with corals among macroalgal forests. The Hallaniyat islands are great, but very difficult to get to; I DM-ed on a liveaboard wildlife cruise down there a few years ago. We had encounters with sharks, blue whales, sperm whales, humpbacks and lots of dolphins around there, but again, viz is hit and mis. Best time is probably October, just after the summer monsoon, as the viz clears up, but you still have the macroalgae. There are a few dive operations based in Salalah now.


Where were you 14 years ago? I could've used this info :) We got 2 blues in muck and lotsa dolphins too.

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#17 Ferg42

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 10:38 AM

thanks for the further information, all very helpful. I would really love the whales you mention Ferg! haha

Still up in the air about the itinerary, hoping to know more this week.

What about water temps? I am a complete wuss as i wear a 5mm in 29C water.. what should i expect in Feb? do i need my 7mm semi dry?
:)


Sea temperatures in Feb will probably be in the 20-25 range, but again highly variable due to the localized upwelling events. You should be fine in the 5mm (although I have seen some wussy dive guides donning 7 mils of rubber). Whales are great, though have rarely had more than a very fleeting in water encounter. Winter time round Muscat Bryde's Whales are reasonably commonplace. If you want I can put you in touch with the local Whale and Dolphin Reseach Group (of which I'm still an occasional participant), they will have the most up to date intel on sightings. Anyway, if you need any further info or contacts once you have a schedule, let me know.

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#18 Drew

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 11:16 AM

Ferg
Aren't the humpbacks in the area permanent residents? In that they don't migrate anywhere like the Antarctic? Is that what your group is researching?

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#19 Ferg42

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:01 PM

Ferg
Aren't the humpbacks in the area permanent residents? In that they don't migrate anywhere like the Antarctic? Is that what your group is researching?


Hi Drew,- Exactly right. We've been doing photo ID, DNA analysis and even analysis of the vocalizations, and it all points to them being a small, isolated, non-migratory population. The upwelling, especially along the Arabian Sea (S) coast during the monsoon kicks off the blooms, and they really don't need to migrate to feed. Best estimates based on photo ID and resighting rates put the entire Oman population somewhere under 100. This low number is probably partly due to Soviet whaling along that coast in the late 60's (around 1200 blue whales were also caught during two seasons in the late 60's. This represented an estimated 95% of the population). We're not sure that the remaining number of individuals even represents a viable population long-term. I wrote an article on the Whales and Dolphins here.

Anyway, best places to spot the humpbacks seems to be off Masirah (the island just south of Ras Al Hadd-the easterly tip of Oman), and around Hasik and Hallaniyat Islands in the extreme South of the country. They seem to be very wary of divers in the water and this combined with the iffy viz and their rarity makes them a tricky prospect for underwater encounters. I've had great encounters with False Killer Whales off Masirah, though and we have seen some very large groups of Sperm Whales in the South. Plus the Spinner Dolphins. There is a spot off Bar Al Hikman (peninsula just south of Masirah) where you get huge monospecific stands of Montipora (Cabbage Coral), which is a pretty unique underwater sight too. I've also dived in big schools of Oman Cownose Rays, an Oman endemic in the South (Dhofar) and there are a few big billfish around too if you know where to look. Loads of potential, but you just need to put the time in, because it seems to be fairly unpredictable!
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