Al Marsa – Musandam 2 night Dhow Dive Trip.
This is a dive trip we have done once a year for the last 3 years and most of the people on the dhow we see once a year! We go through Al Marsa Musandam It’s a great little trip, and ideally requires an
early escape from Dubai on the Thursday evening. Especially now as you have to go through the Corniche border post at Dibba now and this could well slow you down. We set off around 4.50pm from Dubai and got to the border just before 7pm. We then spent about an hour at the border, not really sure what was going on.
This is a border post manned by Sharjah Police and you never know what might happen. Some of our party came through earlier in the day and had everything confiscated. We stood around for an hour, showed them everything we had (3 cars worth of people and drinks), were given two options, go back to Dubai, or go to the police station and come back and he still wouldn’t let us through. Then, after he rolled his eyes as the 12 bottles of fizzy grape stuff in my cool box. He told us all to pack it away, gave us our passports back and we were through! You just never know.
You will almost certainly have to wait, but if you have no alcohol, I think it will be a smoother transition. And you can acquire your ‘vitamins’ on board for a very reasonable price. The border patrol did actually say that 1 or 2 bottles would be fine, but my advice to you is DON’T take alcohol with you.
Once through there is a new winding route to the port and our guide for the weekend, the ever cheerful Rico was waiting for us in the Al Marsa office which is just on the right as you drive into the port. Head in and pay up for everything, pick up your kit if you are diving, unload your car into the little pick up that will take all your stuff to the dhow and then find a place to park your car for a couple days.
We had hoped to be all on the boat and out the port by 7.30pm but with the border we set sail about 9pm in the end.Perfect weather, a hearty dinner and a couple of those aforementioned grape drinks and we were on our way. As always there are the staple attendees and then a couple new faces. This trip happening in the middle of our house move and a stressful time at work for Thera and I, it was great that as we pulled out of port, we knew there was no phone coverage, no email, nothing except sunshine, diving and relaxing. Some of these dhow trips can be huge party boats, but it must be age or something but our boat was a very civilised, entertaining, enjoyable group of people relaxing.
There is always a mix of divers, snorkellers, sun bathers, sleepers and kayakers, all of whom are catered to. For the divers, you can choose to have a pretty full on weekend under the water – 4 dives on Friday and 3 on Saturday if you so wish. We usually put our kit together on the Thursday night on the way up the coast as the first
dive of the morning this trip is a 7.30am tip to Ras Al Fayurrah.
The weather this year was the best so far in terms of temperature and sleeping on the deck. Waking up to the sun rise on serene calm waters surrounded by the Oman coastline is AMAZING. A reasonable night’s sleep meant up early to grab a coffee and then get on the dive boat. Something about diving really builds your appetite, so a pre breakfast dive with some rays, a massive moray eel, max depth of 26.9m and a very strong current, made for a pretty good first dive. The current meant it actually turned into an enjoyable drift dive. Back to the boat and a hearty breakfast, some surface time and on to dive 2.
Hard Rock Cafe
Second dive of the day was at Hard Rock Cafe – a site I’ve not dived before. There is a dhow wreck at 24m. It’s only been down there since April 2012, but looks like it’s been there for 10 years. The visibility wasn’t great but the water temp was great. Coming up to abut 18m for most of it, we were surrounded by wildlife, shoals of various fish, a solitary Barracuda, box fish and some massive Angel fish. A very pleasant second dive.
Third dive of the day was diving the coast line just round from the bay where our dhow was anchored. It was the murkiest dive of the day and as it was getting towards late afternoon, a little chilly on the boat afterwards. This factor actually deterred us from the night dive and 3 dives was enough for us that day. 2 huge rays came out of the murky waters to really scare Thera – they are so graceful and beautiful to watch, even if a little scary when the huge shadow comes at you out of the green darkness. Another strong current saw us end up out in the channel a little bit around the head land – safety stop was interesting as it was a little like being in a washing machine!
After three dives it was time to relax. Two of the guys wanted to do the night dive, so the rest of the boat chatted, read, slept and waited for the 2 hardy divers to return. Then dinner – a few grape beverages and then second night under the stars. Fantastic end to a fantastic day.
Day 2 on the Al Marsa yellow dhow
We decided on Thursday night that 1 days diving would be enough for us and day 2, was all about relaxing. And so it was. Perfect weather, some snorkelling, some kayaking, some snoozing, some reading, some music – perhaps a little blog writing! 🙂 And most of all, some down time. The dhow cruise is one where if you want to just fall asleep in the sun, you go ahead. Everyone is there for their own reason, there’s always someone to chat to if you want but you can keep your self to your self and no one would question it.
The dhow starts tracking back down the coast after breakfast, the divers head off again at 7.30am on the speedboat and the dhow cruises past. We stopped in a bay for lunch and then out round the coast for a quick explore in a cave and then snorkelled back round the head land to the dhow. We had a couple of divers flying the next day, so the morning dive was all that was permitted. And in surprisingly quick time, we were back in port in Dibba. Another year another great trip! We will see some of them more than just the once in 12 months. But to some of them – we’ll see you in a year!!! 🙂