Oman is a very beautiful and rich country. Although they as well have lots of oil and are just a stonethrow away from the emirates, it is completely different. It still is a traditional arabic country with ther lifestyle, people, and buildings. It is very authentic and at the same time open and embracing foreigners.
Diving is still developing and thus there aren’t too many dive shops around. This is most likely to change because the diving is amazing. Completely intact hard and soft corals, plenty of fish, occasional big animals – and lots of turtles.
Oman’s beaches are breeding grouds for many different species of sea turtles. The Ras Al Hadd and Ras Al Jinz area is one of the world’s largest breeding ground for the green sea turtle. Nesting turtles can be observed during night year-round, with a peak of sightings in summer months. When they are not nesting they swim Oman’s coastal waters.
As amazing diving in Oman is, one also has to know that there are quite notable differences in summer and winter season. In summer, the temperature outside can easily reach 50 degree celsius. The sea is rather calm, warm, and very clear. In winter, outside temperature is around mild 25 degree celsius. However, the sea cools down, gets rougher, and most importantly, it is full of mostly phytoplankton. Thus the visibility is not too good in winter and everything is rather green.
In general, Oman does help dive the pain away. But probably to a much greater extent in summer months…
Right now I’m in Oman. I did a few dives here and will comment on diving in the capital area, which is the area around the capital Muscat including the Diamaniyat Islands, upon my arrival back home.
Also, I will add reviews about some destinations I visited some time ago, including Kao Lak (Thailand), the Philippines, Bonaire, Italy, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, and Cuba.
Posted in diving
Tagged diving, Oman
Divinig is rather new in Vietnam. Nevertheless many people talk about how great it is. Phu Quoc is supposed to be a top spot, at least that’s what I’ve heard. This small island actually lies in front of Cambodia but still belongs to Vietnam. It is the place where pepper grows.
There are reefs at the northern as well a the southern part of the island. The reefs usually surround smaller islands and can be reached very easily by boat. But, for no reason, these must be the shallowest reefs ever: they reach down only to about ten meters. This makes the diving very easy. Sometimes there is a current but it is not very strong.
Maybe it was not the right season to dive, but the visibility was bad. Between 2 and 6 meters.
Also, you can eat fresh fish every evening at the night market and you see fishing boats out there all the time. But you don’t see too many fish underwater anymore. I would say these waters are totally overfished.
Diving on Phu Quoc does not help dive the pain away.
I just came back from Soma Bay near Port Safaga in Egypt. The diving was nice, but this is definitely no premier diving spot.
Most dive sites offer healthy and well growing mostly hard corals. The colors are very vivid, so no sign of coral bleaching as seen in many places in Asia. Of course one main reason for this is the water temperature that lies around 26 centigrade at that time of the year. But as I’ve heard, most of Egypt’s corals are populated by some sort of bacteria that helps keep coral bleaching away.
What was rather disappointing, especially after having read that after tourism cooled down due to this spring’s revolution in Egypt and other Arab countries many fish populations recovered, was the marine life to be found. I did not see a single turtle – probably I’m spoilt from the Caribbean’s abundance of these wonderful creatures. But also only very few tunas, a single barracuda, one eagle ray, and almost no schools of fish were there. To me fish are more important than corals, so I rate this quite high.
This area does not help dive the pain away.
A colleague and I have been thinking about doing it for over a year before we decided to do it: ice diving. Even just the thought about it gives you a fair chill down your back – not because of excitement or the thrill, no, just because you think about freezing cold water.
So we decided to do it with a local diving group that always organizes an ice diving weekend in March. In March the risk of not being able to ice dive is rather high because rising temperatures make the ice more and more unstable. On the other hand is a warm outside temperature better and most years the weather is just nicer.
Soon they told us that we would need a dry suit and in order to dive with this wonderfully warming piece of equipment we would need to take a short course. Ok, no backing out. Easy theory part about how and why we get cold in the water and how great a dry suit is to prevent this from happening. Nothing new there but that is almost always the case with PADI specialty courses. Another part of this course were two open water dives to get the feeling of a dry suit. We did this in January in Lake Constance at roughly 4 degree centigrade water temperature. At the first dive my colleague’s first stage immediately iced and wasn’t possible to use anymore. So they exchanged the equipment while we were waiting in and later at the water. When we finally got in I was already freezing. We did two rather short (35 minutes each) dives and them went home to get our body temperatures back to a healthy level. Diving a dry suit is different because you can use the suit for buoyancy control. But as you change your body’s position the air can easily escape through a valve for exactly this purpose. The air also gets compressed the deeper you go (which you feel be a strong pressure of the suit against your body) so you always have to refill and readjust. All in all it is a warm way of diving but you have to be aware of the equipment a lot more than when diving wet or even semi-dry. But I believe you can get used to that.
So after we got certified for dry suit diving (and for me two weeks of diving in the Philippines, but more on that in another post) the weekend finally arrived. We were again taking a PADI specialty course (ice diving). We packed my car with an estimated ton of equipment and drove to Plaun da Lej to meet with the others. The next morning we met for the first dive. It was a really nice day and we were excited. The excitement slightly disappeared after the first dive because of freezing cold hands. The next day we did the for the course needed third dive and I passed on a fourth ‘fun’ dive. I was not feeling very funny and just wanted to go home to get warm again. Our problem was that we rented dry suits with no attached gloves. We had to use semi-dry gloves instead. And this meant our hands would get wet and cold.
Ice diving is very special. Especially the entrance into the water: you slide through the hole and see this very thick layer of ice – really impressive! Under the ice you see accumulated air trying to escape and the sun shining through the ice. I never felt fear that we would not find the exit because we were attached to safety strings and thus could let us be pulled out by the outside crew. Since the water is so cold we did not see any fish movement. We actually did see almost no living being. It was just very tranquil and somehow mystic.
Ice ding does help you dive the pain away – but at the same time gives you another pain, that of cold finger and feet. I do not regret having it done but I most certainly wouldn’t do it again. But never say never…