When you stay in Dubai, it is pretty much imperative that you explore your neighboring countries which have a lot to offer for any traveler / tourist. Dubai in itself offers a lot of attractive place and activities but once you are saturated with them, it is time to look elsewhere. Oman, the tiny powerful member of the GCC is one such country you should not miss. This country has a lot to offer starting from the ancient cultural heritage rich Muscat to lush greenery and serene Salalah. And to the other end is Musandam, which is a mountainous Omani peninsula projecting into the Strait of Hormuz, separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates. Dhow cruises are a popular activity and is a must-do if one happens to visit UAE / Oman.
To beat our routine and hectic daily life in Dubai, we decided to take a break on Friday and head to Musandam. Just for your information, I’m married now and hence WE 😉
After running through various tour operators on Google we finally found Pranav Tourism which looked decent.
We started from home at 6:30 am. Our vehicle was scheduled to pick us up @7:15 am from Spinney’s super market near Burjuman. It was an awesome winter morning in Dubai which reminded us of spring season of Bangalore. Cool breeze was adding up to beautiful morning. Waiting at Spinneys for our vehicle to arrive we got to see the scenic view of sunrise and birds humming around. Difficult to imagine such a day in Dubai? It does happen …
By 7:30 am our vehicle arrived and the bus driver took headcount of all the passengers according to the list he was provided by the travel agent. We were accompanied by 3 Indian families along with people of other nationalities.
After lots of cross verification the driver started the vehicle. The driver drove us along the spacious and wonderful roads of UAE. Along the whole journey till Musandam we were only admiring the roads, cleanliness maintained by the government of UAE. There were shrubs and flowers planted alongside roads which was looking amazing. To our surprise there were hardly any speed breakers till we reached Oman.
After almost two and half hour of our journey we reached Sharjah-Oman border at 10:30 am. We were given the entry permit at the border by the travel agency owner. We had to submit this passes along with our original passport and visa for verification.
After document check at the border, we entered limits of Musandam governorate. Though Oman and UAE are gulf countries & neighbors, the difference in culture and the architecture is very much evident. We all were excited to enter Oman after a long wait. I was not sure that we had crossed UAE and entered Oman but my doubts were laid to rest after I received messages in my phone, it read WELCOME to OMAN.
As soon as we reached the place, everyone got busy in capturing the beauty of the place. With great excitement we boarded our dhow. We were welcomed with lots of eatery around – fruits, juices, candies, biscuits, beverages.
Since we were very hungry it was important that we quickly grabbed few biscuits pack and tea. Once the rats in our tummy rested, we started exploring our dhow. Once our dhow started we were informed to be seated as the waves were mildly high and we might lose balance.
As the dhow cruise started the winds of Arabian Sea started hitting us and everyone in the cruise were enjoying the nature and its cool winds. Everywhere we could find delighted, excited and happy faces enjoying the ride.
After 15-20 mins of our ride we were provided with awesome feet tapping songs of Bollywood, yes Mika Singh rules here! No matter where you go, Indian songs are always there to greet you.
The cruise volunteers explained us the programme for the day and it included: visit to nearby beach, speedboat ride, snorkeling and banana ride. And before we wind up there was a visit to the nearby limestone cave.
Our dhow was anchored at a distance and from there we headed to the beach in a speed boat. It was very cleanly maintained and the water was very neat. No dirt and dust around. Unexploited undisturbed beauty of nature could be found here. Everyone got busy enjoying with their respective groups and having relaxing time supplemented by the wonderful weather. Our bus driver who hails from Pakistan to no time to jump in the waters. When asked how cold the water is, he said ‘water not cold, it is heart’! My fellow travelers smiled and jumped in the waters.
After spending good amount of time at beach we headed back to our dhow. As a natural tendency after playing in water, one tends to be hungry. And it was no different with us. We wasted no time in grabbing few fruits and biscuits on the dhow.
Our next plan as per the schedule was to visit limestone cave by speed boat. We started with our speedboat but after few minutes our volunteer noticed that the waves in the sea was getting rough and it was not safe to ride in this condition. So we had returned to our dhow. By then it was 2:30 pm and lunch was arranged. We had heavy lunch and settled down in our places before the cruise was about to leave. The lunch on-board was very tasty and satisfying.
We started back at 4:00 pm from the island. On our way back, dhow volunteers informed us that they will take us near to limestone cave, so that we can click few pictures and return back to Musandam shore.
Limestone cave was one of the best landmark view for us, especially during sunset. No words to explain its beauty. After spending 10-15 mins we started our return journey. The waves were getting dangerously higher and higher coupled with strong winds during sunset.
By 5:30 pm; we were back and boarded our respective vehicles. We reached Oman-Sharjah border for the return document verification which was done in no time. Upon exit we could see that UAE was getting ready for the National Day celebration. All along the roads, huge posters of the UAE rulers and flags of UAE were hoisted.
On our way back we were going through the beautiful pictures captured in phone and recollecting the beauty of Musandam.
By 8 pm we reached Al-Nahda metro station. We took metro to reach back home.
This would be a perfect place for an outing with friends and family considering the proximity to Dubai. The best time to visit would be between November-March, but do carry your sweaters.