Things To Do In Musandam and Khasab
The Musandam Peninsular is one of the most rugged, mountainous and remote places in Arabia. It’s part of Oman, but Musandam is an exclave separated entirely from the rest of the country by oceans, mountains and the United Arab Emirates.
Musandam is not particularly easy to reach, or particularly easy to travel around, but it is stunningly beautiful, peaceful, quiet and yet to be ravaged by mass tourism. The main gateway to the Musandam Peninsular is Khasab, and this small port city is the best location from which to explore the spectacular fjords, to snorkel the clear waters and to visit remote villages. Further afield there are plenty more things to do in Musandam too, from mountain top drives and hikes to exploring remote bays and beaches.
The Best Things To Do In Musandam And Khasab
Take A Traditional Dhow Cruise Out Into The Fjords Of Khasab
The Fjords of Khasab could well be the most well kept secret in not just Oman, but the entire Middle East. Surrounding Khasab are a network of stunning, spectacular and beautiful waterways. The fjords are best visited on a traditional Omani Dhow, for a true Musandam experience, but out on the water it’s possible to snorkel, swim and to kayak. Honestly, the fjords are one of Oman’s best natural attractions, but because of the remote location, few tourists make it here, at least for now!
Head Out Dolphin Spotting
Large areas of the fjords of Khasab are a protected marine area, and the water is home to large populations of dolphins, including the rare Humpback Dolphin. Travel out into the fjords early in the morning or late in the afternoon just before the sun sets for the best chance to see the dolphins!
Camp Out On The Fjords
A day trip to the spectacular fjords will never be enough time to really experience the true beauty of the rugged scenery. To get really remote and far out into Musandam, it’s possible to arrange overnight trips, either sleeping out on the water on the deck of a traditional dhow or setting up camp on a far off beach.
Snorkel Around Telegraph Island
Telegraph Island is a small piece of rock in the middle of the fjords where British sailors were once stationed in the brutal sun to man a telegraph relay station. The ruins of the station are still there to see, and surrounding the island is a pristine coral reef and beautifully clear water. It’s perfect for snorkelling.
Visit Traditional Musandam Villages
The unique way of life in Musandam has changed little over the last few centuries. Local people still live in traditional villages, many of which are located in remote places and only accessible by boat. Many of the people you might meet working in Khasab, will actually have homes in other parts of Musandam and will return on weekends, or even overnight on fast speed boats or four by fours to be with their families. Children even commute to school in the city by fast boat!
Take A Boat To Kumzar
One of the most remote of these traditional villages is a place called Kumzar. This is the most northernmost village in Oman, facing out to Iran across the Strait of Hormuz. The locals here are supposedly descended from the soldiers of Alexander the Great himself, who allegedly left a band of troops behind on the island. Advance permission and a permit needs to be arranged beforehand as the village is in a sensitive political area, but the experience is as remote and traditional as it gets.
Explore The Khasab Castle
The Khasab Castle is located right on the shore front of the city looking out over the Strait of Hormuz. It’s a dramatic setting for an interesting castle that’s well preserved and it’s also the site of a detailed cultural and historic museum. It’s well worth the meagre entrance fee of 500 Baizas to get in to explore the ramparts and old turrets.
Hike Or Probably Drive To The Top Of Jebel Harim, Musandam’s Highest Peak
At just over 2000 metres in height, Jebel Harim is Musandam’s highest peak. Potentially, the route could be hiked, but realistically most people visit with the help of a four by four from Khasab, as the route is dusty, dry, rocky and hot. The views from the summit over the surrounding mountains are incredible to see.
Admire The Beautiful Mountains And Bay At Khor Najd
Khor Najd is another remote yet spectacular place, that needs a car to be reached. It’s around forty minutes away from Khasab through the mountains of Musandam and the view across the fjords and the surrounding area could well be one of the best in Oman.
Watch The Smugglers Racing Across The Strait Of Hormuz
One of the most intriguing things to do in Musandam is to watch the smugglers racing out of Khasab and across the Strait of Hormuz towards Iran. Everyday, hundreds of small motor boats make the journey, loaded up with anything from televisions to baby nappies, whatever is difficult to buy in Iran. The Omanis allow the boats in the harbour until sunset, so in the late afternoon, these boats all begin zipping across the water. It’s a strange sight, but an interesting one to watch.
Drive The Khasab Coastal Road To The UAE
The road from Khasab to the UAE is one of the most stunning stretches of road that I’ve ever driven on. It follows the coast, in the shadow of high cliffs and overlooking fishing boats, dhows and villages below. If you are driving into Musandam, this is the road you will need to take from Dubai or Ras al Khaimah to reach Khasab.
Explore The Remote Region Of Dibba
Dibba is a remote region within the already remote Musandam Peninsular. It’s in the south, bordering the UAE, but due to the huge mountain ranges in between this area and Khasab it’s very difficult to reach from any other part of Oman. If you want to get really off the beaten track, this is the place to go. Like in Khasab, there are spectacular mountains and glorious fjords to explore.
How To Travel To Musandam Oman
The city of Khasab is the real gateway to the Musandam Peninsular, but with this rugged, mountainous region being completely separated from the rest of Oman, it can be a tricky place to actually get to. It’s certainly not impossible and although a bit of extra effort is required, it is certainly worth it for the spectacular scenery and the remote isolation.
Khasab in Musandam can be reached by a bus and ferry combination from Muscat and the port of Shinas, or through daily domestic flights. If you have your own vehicle or are willing to hitch hike a bit, it’s possible to travel along the coast of the UAE and into Khasab from Dubai or Ras al Khaimah.