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Oman, a world class diving secret.
If your diving in Musandam in the north of Oman or diving in the bays of Bandar al Jissah near Muscat, or island diving at the Dimaniyat islands, or off the coast near Salalaha in the south, you will most likely be on the only dive boat at that dive site. The corals are exceptional and in pristine condition and the aquatic life is in abundance and behaves as nature intended, even with the interference of divers. We know this will all change in the future as Oman becomes more and more popular as a diving destination, but it is great to experience right now.
Oman is still relatively unknown as a tourist destination, and even less so as a dive destination, but it has huge variety of world class dive sites which are relatively unexplored. In Musandam there are huge fjords which offer extreme wall dives, near Muscat there are sheltered bays and wrecks along the rugged coast line, in the south near Salalaha there are exceptional dive sites much undiscovered, but if you ask any diver who has experienced diving in Oman they will tell you the Daymaniyat Islands Nature Reserve offers the best diving in Oman and is comparable to the best diving in the Red Sea (but without the crowds). The Daymaniyat Islands Nature reserve consists of a string of nine uninhabited islands made up of fossilized coral, situated 20 kilometres off shore and stretching for just over 20 kilometres into the Indian ocean in an east west direction, the islands get their name from the Arabic word 'Daymaneen' basically translated as 'string of jewels' a name which they live up to admirably.
The geographic location of these natural atolls means that it is far enough off shore to not be effected by sedimentation and far enough away from the source of the cold upwelling of nutrient rich water that the temperature has stabilized by the time it reaches the islands, thus promoting the huge fish populations and spectacular coral growth in the nature reserve. Coming along hand in hand with the abundance of smaller colourful reef fish are prolific numbers of the larger species further up the food chain, regular sightings of whale sharks and other large cetaceans make for exceptions, whereas sightings of manta rays, zebra shark, huge sting rays, barracuda, tuna and black tip reef shark are more common, and not a dive goes by without sightings of giant moray eels, cuttlefish, green and hawksbill turtles and for the keen sighted nudibranch, lobster and smaller rays. The location of the islands offer a safe stop off point for migratory birds, and are home to sea eagles and the graceful osprey, the beaches and cliffs come alive in the summer months with nesting birds and turtles returning to lay their eggs on the white sand beaches.
The windward side of the islands offer the best diving with walls and drop offs submerged reefs, swim throughs and caves and an abundance of hard and soft corals, which are home to an amazing array of marine life. The leeward or southern side of the islands, and the many sheltered lagoons, offer spectacular snorkelling with shallower calm waters and lots of turtles, reef fish and beautiful corals which tease the surface of the turquoise water giving the snorkeller a close up of the beauty below.
Diving here in Oman is an exceptional and unique experience for all levels of divers, the natural eco system that enables the Dimaniyat Islands to flourish is a wonder in itself and hopefully can be preserved for generations to come, so don't tell too many people, remember it's a secret.
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