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OMANThe Daymaniyat IslandsThe Sultanate of Oman is not embedded in the sub-conscious of the diving fraternity like near-neighbours Egypt and Jordan, but this is a crying shame, as this country has much to offer visiting scuba enthusiasts and adventure lovers.“ The undoubted highlight of any diving trip to Oman are the Daymaniyat Islands, which have been a national nature reserve since 1996. This collection of nine small islands, which are spread over a reasonable distance, lie just 45 minutes from the marina in Muscat ”With over 3,165km of coastline bordering three seas – the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and the Arabian Sea – being served by literally a handful of dive centres and liveaboards, it is a dream destination for divers, and with plenty of topside activities on hand, including wadi-bashing, climbing, hiking and much more, there is something for everyone if you happen to have any non-divers in your group.
The undoubted highlight of any diving trip to Oman are the Daymaniyat Islands, which have been a national nature reserve since 1996. This collection of nine small islands, which are spread over a reasonable distance, lie just 45 minutes from the marina in Muscat and, it has to be said, do not particularly inspire a feeling of awe when first viewed from the dive boat, as they are desolate, barren and windswept. But drop below the surface of the water and you can immediately see what all the fuss is about.
The Daymaniyat Islands boast a total of 22 dive sites, with some of the stand-outs being Aquarium, Garden of Eden, Three Sisters and Hayut Run. There are so many shoals of snapper, groups of Arabian and emperor angelfish, hordes of long- and short-fin batfish, honeycomb morays, cuttlefish, black-blotched stingrays, spotted eagle rays, leopard sharks, black-tip sharks, anemonefish, big-eye trevally and turtles (you get four species commonly in Oman – loggerhead, green, Olive Ridley and hawksbill), it does actually feel like you are in a giant aquarium.
However, it isn’t just the marine life that makes the Daymaniyats so great, the underwater topography is also unique. On some sites, you can make a slow 360 degree turn and just see endless gigantic table corals everywhere you look, these majestic corals literally interlocking with one another, there are so many competing for space.
As well as swathes of hard and soft corals, interspersed with vibrant sponges, some of the rock formations are also simply stunning. Swim-throughs, overhangs, nooks and crannies all help make the reef itself interesting, regardless of what swims or crawls into your path.
The best visibility can be found from April to July, and from October to November, and the waters attract a lot of plankton through August to September and December to February, but don’t let this put you off – this nutrient-rich soup attracts the likes the manta rays and whalesharks. Water temperatures can reach the dizzy heights of 29-31 degrees C from April to June, but are still between 25- 30 degrees C from August to November.
Oman is still one of those rare places where you can get a real ‘explorer’ feel when you visit, and as a diver, this is especially true, as with so few dive centres throughout the entire country, it is unusual for your dive group not to be the only ones in the water at your chosen dive site.
Did you know?The Daymaniyat Islands are surrounded by turquoise waters and stunning coral reefs that are perfect for snorkelling and diving. The islands are home to endangered sea turtles, untouched coral reefs, and exotic fish.Essential informationLocation: Daymaniyat Islands, Oman Depth: 3m-30m+ Diver level: Beginner to advanced Who to dive with SeaOman www.seaoman.com
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USNS General Hoyt S Vandenberg
Scuba Diver Magazine
Scuba Diver is an independent publisher of scuba diving magazines in all major English-speaking countries.