Musandam Governorate (مـحـافـظـة مـسـنـدـم) is the smallest region in Oman located at the tip of the Arabian peninsula separating the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman. Musandam is quite unique because it is physically separated from mainland Oman by the UAE. Musandam overlooks the Strait of Hormuz, one of the busiest waterways in the world. It is also sometimes called “The Norway of the East”, due to the rugged mountains that cover the coasts, forming fjords resembling the ones created by glaciers in colder regions. The peninsula consists of the capital city Khasab and a couple of other cities and townships.
We went to Musandam for a weekend and had an amazing time, but due to time constraints we only managed to explore Khasab. You can definitely do lots in two days, especially if you’re in and around Khasab, but if you want to explore the many attractions in Musandam peninsula, we suggest you extend your holiday a bit more.
Things to do:
There is a ton of things you can do in Musandam, and it basically boils down to how much time you have and how adventurous you are:
- Take a boat ride along along the beautiful Musandam fjords. This is one of the must-do activities, and if you have kids they will definitely enjoy it as dolphin encounters are common.
- Learn more about the history and unique culture of the people of Musandam peninsula by visiting the wonderful exhibitions at Khasab Castle. You may also want to check out Bukha Fort, just over 30 kms from Khasab.
- Camp at Bassah beach, which is next to the Khasab Golden Tulip. To be honest, this is not an ideal place to camp as it gets very crowded, is right next to the highway and is not very clean, but it is the one of the very few sandy beaches we saw in Khasab. You will probably have a much nicer time camping at one of the other beaches that are accessible only by boats.
- Drive up mountain Hareem (Jebal Hareem), where you will be offered spectacular views of the valleys and villages around. You will need a 4WD for this.
- Visit Kumzar village, the upper northern part of the peninsula. This village is accessible only by boat.
- Diving and snorkeling activities can be done anywhere and there are half a dozen places in Khasab that offer these activities.
- You can also drive along the spectacular Musandam shorelines, perhaps even up to the mountainous road on the Eastern Side of the peninsula which is meant to be spectacular drive.
Places to Stay:
If you are not planning to camp along one of the beaches, we suggest you book your hotel rooms well in advance. There aren’t many hotel rooms in Khasab, and there are only a handful of hotels in all of Musandam. Khasab Golden Tulip is the largest and most prominent hotel, offering beautiful views of the shoreline. There is also the super-luxurious Six Sense Zighy Bay, but that is an exclusive retreated in a secluded area in the South Eastern side of the peninsula which could put a huge dent in your budget. There are also some budget options that include Khasab Hotel.
Getting To Khasab:
You can drive, fly or take a ferry to Khasab, these options depend on your budget and preference. Driving is obviously the cheapest, with the low price of petrol; however, you have to drive for almost 500 kms besides having to cross the UAE boarder, in which case you may or may not need a visa if you are not an Omani/Gulf national. Flying is another option but if you want to take your car going by ferry is the way to go! Read our post on the National Ferries Company for our experience taking the ferry.
If you end up driving to Khasab, plan your itinerary well and make sure you know which border crossings you will pass through to the UAE, and then back to Oman. We wanted to drive along the mountainous road on the Eastern side, in which case we had to cross the border at Khatimat Milaha (خـطـمة مـلاحة) to Fujairah, and then the Dibba border back to Oman. If you require a visa to enter the UAE, you are not likely to be allowed entry to Musandam through the Dibba boarder pass as they do not have “facilities” to cancel your visa when you exit. If you think that applies to you, save yourself the hassle and just go through the boarder in Ras Al Khaimah. You can always drive through the Eastern mountainous road once you to Khasab from Ras Al Khaimah.
If you are an Omani/Gulf national, or do not require visa to enter UAE, go through this route:
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For everyone else, go through this route:
Please note that this post is in no way way an extensive guide on what to do in Musandam, but look for more content to be added as we visit this beautiful part of Oman once again!