Visiting the Musandam Peninsula of Oman is one of the absolute trips of a lifetime you need to take with your kids for it’s raw, dramatic beauty and tranquillity.
Here we’ll take you through all the practicalities of planning a tour to Musandam, either self-planning or with an organised tour group. We’ll take you through:
- Where is the Musandam Peninsula
- Best times to visit
- How to get to Musandam from Dubai or Muscat
- Musandam Tour Options
- What there is to see and do in Musandam
Where is the Musandam Peninsula
So a little geography lesson first!
This is truly one of the truly fascinating yet difficult to explain geographic points on earth! Politically, although part of Oman, it is and exclave separated from the rest of the country of Oman by the United Arab Emirates.
During the early part of the 20th century, boundaries were drawn up in the region and tribal elders needed to pledge their allegiances. Oman retained control of the Peninsula with its strategic position over the Strait of Hormuz – one of the world’s busiest waterways.
If you ever study the map of the UAE you will see it gets even stranger. Within the Emirate of Fujairah you will find the Omani enclave of Madha – or also called Wadi Madha – which includes the village of Nahwa, part of Sharjah Emirate! Also within the Emirate of Fujairah, you find another Omani enclave Dibba Al Hisn, which borders the Gulf of Oman and almost the Omani border. Both of these enclaves are part of the Governate of Musandam.
These smaller enclaves have no formal border crossing (however your mobile phone will welcome you with a message from Omantel!). Crossing into Musandam and up to the regional capital of Khasab though is a formal border crossing which we’ll explain below.
The Musandam Peninsula has an area of 1,800 square kilometres (690 sq mi) and a population of 31,425 people, mostly Shihuh.
The Peninsular is pretty much entirely formed of rocky mountains, part of the Hajar mountain range. Water-filled valleys (called khors or fjords) have formed over hundreds of thousands of years, filled with unique marine life and tiny villages.
It is the stark, natural beauty of these fjords that has seen the area often nicknamed “the Norway of Oman” or “Norway of Arabia”.
Musandam Weather – Best time to visit
The best time to visit Musandam is in the cooler winter months from late October through to April where you should experience day time highs from around 24c to 30c.
It is possible to visit outside of these times but it will be a hot and sweaty experience for young children, later summer can bring with it poor visibility on the mountainous drive which spoils part of the experience.
If you are not tied to school terms and local school holidays, it’s best to visit mid-week.
Getting to Khasab and the Musandam Peninsula
Khasab is the regional capital of the Governate of Musandam where most visitors will base themselves. The nearest large international airport is DXB in Dubai. From here it is approximately a 2-hour drive to the Al Darah border crossing point, and a further 45-minute drive hugging the coast to get to Khasab.
If you are driving from Abu Dhabi, add another 1 to 1.5 hours to this.
The border crossing process can be fairly quick and painless during the week, however on winter weekends and especially UAE public holiday weekends expect extensive queueing on both sides of the border to complete formalities – with or without a vehicle it can take time.
If you are coming to Musandam as part of a larger Oman road trip read this guide – it explains exactly how you can come by either land crossing through the UAE, or by plane or even boat from Sinas in Oman.
Best places to stay in Musandam
There are limited accommodation options in Khasab, but there’s no reason you cannot be flexible in either camping in a pre-designated area, or sleeping on a boat. There’s a lot of choices for Musandam!
- The two main hotels that we would recommend as suitable for families are Atana Musandam Resort and the Atana Khasab Hotel.
You can see our complete guide to Musandam accommodation options here, including camping choices and staying in Dibba on the east coast.
Khasab Tours, Musandam
Join a group tour to Khasab from Dubai
There are plenty of guided tours that can take you to Musandam from Dubai, we’ve included a selection for you here offered by reputable third-party agent Get Your Guide
(Especially if you are visiting from overseas this is the prefered option as it includes your transportation, guidance through the border crossing process and other formalities that may be a little daunting if you are not familiar with the UAE & Oman and do not speak Arabic).
Musandam Dibba tours
There are also tour options that leave from Dubai and explore the eastern coast of Musandam known as Dibba. This trip does not involve a formal land border crossing so can be the easier option for day-trippers.
Group Tours from Khasab
If you are self driving, it is easier to arrange a private guide or skipper from the dock in Khasab. There are a number of smaller tours you can join, or even charter your own boat.
Some tours tout themselves specifically as dolphin tours. But let’s be honest, they are wild creatures a dolphin-spotting tour has as much chance as seeing them as any other tour boat. You are a very good chance of spotting them either way. Other charters may more specifically focus on water sports and diving spots.
Self-tour in Khasab
Privately arranged tours can be organised in advance or on spec if you turn up at the port in Khasab (we wouldn’t suggest ricking this on busy weekends though).
For a privately arranged tour, just agree with the skipper or owner the number of hours and charge per head. If you have a boat just to yourselves this may be a little more and they’ll charge you for kids. In a larger group they may only charge you for the adults and a set price for the total time on the water.
Locally prepared meals are likely included too, you may even negotiate overnight camping on the boat – though be warned this is as al-naturale as it gets – but for those clear, star-filled starry nights…
A private tour has the advantage you can also choose your pace, how long you want on the water (you normally charted for a half-day or full-day) and simply ask your skipper to take you to their favourite spots.
What to do in Musandam
It is largely about engaging with and enjoying the natural beauty of the region. The options include:
Taking a boat into kumzar
As we’ve described above, the most common activity is to take a boat out on to the waters around Kumzar in the very furthermost northern tip of Musandam. Kumzar is still attached by land, just, by Khor ash-Shams but for the most part, these tiny villages are really only accessible by water.
Most boats will head from Khasab into the Elphinstone Inlet, the inner inlet of Khasab Bay, perhaps stopping for lunch near the historic Telegraph Island.
Camping in Musandam
A time to get in touch with nature, either beach camping or 4WD through the mountains. You can either have a boat take you to a small and secluded beach, or there are arranged camping (“glamping”) tours by the likes of Khasab Musandam Camping Site.
If you have a 4wd and your own gear you can tackle some of the even more remote spots like Khor Najd Camping Area – not beautiful in and of itself but the drive!!!
Diving in Musandam
There are a couple of well-known dive spots to be found in Musandam. “The Cave Island” found near Ras Sannat on the east coast is known for stingrays and sharks, whilst on the east coast near the township of Lima, you will find Lima Rock. The limestone formations here are reported home to a variety of coral and marine life, but for advanced divers only due to the deep water and strong currents.
Those just interested in snorkelling can do so in the calm waters near to Khasab.
Enjoying unparalleled luxury experiences
We can only be talking about Siz Senses Zighy Bay! This luxury resort on the eastern/Dibba coast of the Musandam Peninsular offers unparalleled luxury and remoteness. We talk more about Six Senses Zighy Bay here.
The town of Khasab is not a big city, but it does have a few points of interest that visitors will want to stick their head in to.
The Khasab Fort is definitely impressive. Like many of Oman’s historic forts, extensive renovation work has taken place.
The Khasab Museum is also of note too.
Enjoy the drive
As long as you don’t have any motion sickness sufferers in the car, the drive itself into Khasab is all part of the adventure.
On the drive up from Dubai, you will also pas through Ras al Khaimah, it’s well worth as part of a longer road trip stopping in a night or two for everything there is to see and do in RAK.
A great stop to incorporate (though its quite the leg-burner!) is stopping off for the climb to Dhayah Fort in northern Ras Al Khaimah. There’s a large information board at the car park level explaining the forts historic role in the region.
Is it safe to visit Musandam?
Musandam is situated in a very precarious geopolitical location. The very tip of Oman justs into the Strait of Hormuz, one of the most important sea routes in the world, with both Iran and Oman claiming the waters that 21% of world’s daily crude oil supplies are shipped through.
The khors of Kumzar, however, still feel like the land that time forgot and sit in peaceful defiance to the politics that surrounds them. We would have no hesitation at the time of writing saying that there is no safety threat to tourists in this area of Oman.
You should, of course, always keep abreast of the developing situation in the Middle East and check any safety concerns you might have with your own Government Foreign Office. You can read the current US State Office warnings for Oman here. The whole country at present is regarded as Level 1, normal risk.
Our general safety warning would be no different from any other part of the Middle East.
Musandam is the perfect escape for city dwellers in the UAE and overseas visitors alike and should be a must on your Middle East itinerary for unique and enjoyable family experiences.
Have you visited Musandam with your family? Do you have a tour company you would like to recommend?
More on Musandam & Oman
Before you go, don’t forget to read our guides on:
- Best places to stay in Musandam
- Dubai to Musandam road trip planner
- How to get from Muscat to Musandam
- When to visit Oman
- Family-friendly highlights of Oman
- Oman with Kids
- Best of Muscat with Kids
- Planning a Dubai to Muscat road trip
- Planning a Dubai to Fujairah road trip
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