Closer to the United Arab Emirates than mainland Oman, the Musandam Governate is one of the most scenically beautiful destinations in the Middle East. Officially part of the Sultanate but bordering the northern UAE and emirates of Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, the wild enclave is a landscape of majestic fjords and rugged mountain ranges. Travellers come to Musandam Oman to reconnect with nature, to enjoy some of the most beautiful and mesmerising dive sights in the world, to glide on traditional dhow boats through the fjords and to stay in rustic-lux hotels – one being one of the most sought-after celebrity hideaways in the region.
The capital of Musandam is the small city of Khasab, the perfect base to explore the peninsula and home to hotels, boat tours and opportunities for adventures. Pods of dolphins swim, rest, feed and play in the bay, and nearby are local villages where a slower, more authentic look into Musandam can be seen. Boat trips to Telegraph Island or Khawr Najd are both unforgettable excursions – available over a day, or two, on a local dhow boat, while scoring an invite from a local and you can sail to the village of Kumzar – only accessible by boat. Here are the best places to visit, where to stay, and how to get to Musandam Oman.
What to do in Musandam Oman
Explore the port of Khasab.
When visiting Musandam, the two best bases to head for are the port of Khasab and Zighy Bay – near the sea town of Dibba and home to Musandam’s most luxurious hotel, Six Senses Zighy Bay. The former lies in the northernmost reaches of the peninsula, framed by mountains, beaches and oceans. Attractions in Khasab include the Khasab Fort, a 17th-century castle originally built by the Portuguese, and featuring stonr turrets and cylindrical central towers. The fort is currently home to one of the best ethnographic museums in Oman and the Bait Al Qufl, the ‘house of locks’ built by an Oman craftsman.
Boat trips from Khasab Harbour are also popular, with plenty of companies offering wooden boat cruises to the Strait of Hormuz, where rugged coastal scenery and dolphins are highlights.
Visit historical villages
The Musandam Govrenate is home to many charming local villages, many accessible only by boat, and others only accessible with an invitation from a local. One village accessible by boat is Lima, famous for its traditional handicrafts like the Al Jarz – a small traditional axe. The ride to the village is breathtaking – journeying through rock formations and ocean. Kumzar is another of Musandam’s traditional villages, located in an isolated bay close to the Strait of Hormuz, where villages speak their own language known as Kumzari. Visitors will need an invite to step foot in the 700-year-old settlement, but for those who don’t, it’s possible to take a boat close to the island and get a look at life here – a life which feels worlds away from the everyday. There are 5,000 inhabitants on the island, with a hodgepodge ancestory including Yemeni and Zanzibari.
Take a boat to Telegraph Island
Travellers to Musandam Oman will get used to travelling by boat, and another ride work taking is to Telegraph Island. Named after the island’s telegraph station, which the British built in the 19th century, the fascinating island is home to eerie abandoned ruins, left behind when the island was abandoned in the 1870s. Today, the island serves as a snorkelling and fishing hub.
Enjoy a dhow cruise
The most famous way of exploring Musandam’s coastline is on a traditional dhow boat. Many tour operators offer cruises that include swimming, barbecue and more, and some even offer overnight accommodation – allowing travellers to wake up surrounded by the beauty of the fjords. The most luxurious of these is Six Senses Zighy Bay’s own Omani dhow boat, equipped with en-suite bedrooms, a private chef, sundeck and available inclusive of all meals.
Made a trip to Dibba
Two hours from Khasab is the border town of Dibba, positioned in both Oman and the UAE. The charming town is best known for its famous oysters, and farmland, but also its breathtaking natural scenery – and is a popular dive and swimming spot.
Hike in spectacular mountain ranges
Along with its fjords and untrammelled beaches, Musandam is best known for its mountain ranges and hiking trails. Local tour operators offer mountain bike tours and hiking in the peaks, with the most popular for biking being Jebel Al Harim. With the highest peak at 1,600 metres above sea level, the snaking path carves through rocks, boulders and past ancient rock carvings depicting humans alongside gazelles, Arabian leopards and oryx. A fossil wall formed from sea bed rock and covered in fossiled crabs, starfish and shells is also a spot on the walk.
Check into a world-famous hotel
Popular with A-list celebrities from across the world – who fly in to disconnect, enjoy wholesome, organic produce, unrivalled privacy and wellness rituals – Six Senses Zighy Bay is one of the most saught-after spots in the Middle East. Located near the UAE border in a scenic and secluded bay, the stunning resort is inspired by a traditional Omani village. After ascending and descending to the resort via a rocky mountain road, guests arrive and are greeted by dusty lanes lined with ceramic ptos and dare palms, private pool villas, the Six Senses Spa, myraid charming bars and restaurants and an incredible array of activities – from tennis and paragliding to upcycling and creating sustainable handicrafts.
Getting to Musandam Governate is relatively easy from both the UAE and Oman. From Dubai, it’s just a 2.5-hour drive to the port of Khasab, while Oman Air operates a daily one-hour flight to and from Khasab Airport from the capital of Muscat. Visas are available at the Al Dara Border Crossing for those with a tourist visa for the UAE. Oman offers visa-free entry for GCC residents, but you’ll need your original passports for stamping. The UAE exit visa is AED35 per person, and the Oman visa fee is AED50 per person – coming in at an affordable AED85 return journey. The visa is valid for 90 days, and it’s important to make sure you have a multiple-entry UAE visa – as all single-entry visa holders will have their visas cancelled on exit from the UAE. Always check the latest visa requirements and advice before travelling.