Musandam Dhow Cruise. Diving with Sharks and Rays

Let's go DIVING!

Let’s go DIVING!

The Diving Season is OPEN!

April marks the start of the diving season in United Arab Emirates and Oman as the water becomes warmer and divers start switching their 5mm dive suits to thinner ones. I was super excited to open the season by going on a live-aboard in Musandam for two days. Most divers living in Dubai or Abu Dhabi would probably place Musandam on the top of their favorite dive sites list for a reason.

Musandam- Heaven for Divers

Musandam is rich in biodiversity and divers enjoy encounters with big fish like leopard and whale sharks just as much as photographing colorful nudi branches and seahorses.

A whale shark gracing waters of Musandam.

A whale shark gracing waters of Musandam. Photo by Sheesa Beach

As a huge lover of all types of rays, I am never disappointed as stingrays and mobula rays are often spotted in Musandam. Another popular models for underwater photographers are turtles and even snorkelers often spot these graceful animals.

Turtles can be seen in the shallow waters of Musandam. Photo by Usf Al Ali

Turtles can be seen in the shallow waters of Musandam. Photo by Usf Al Ali

Getting Ready for the Trip

On Thursday I needed to prepare for the trip- not my favorite hobby for sure but having lists definitely helped. I packed my camera backpack – GoPro with the dome case, a 360 camera and Iphone accessories. I had a separate bag for food (totally unnecessary as the team on the dhow had a vegan menu prepared for me). After packing clothes for two days and toiletries, I prepared my dive bag. Since we did not plan to go very deep I opted for the lighter fins and a pink mask to go with them.

Dibba Port. The starting point of every dhow cruise

Dibba Port. The starting point of every dhow cruise

Road trip to Dibba

I met Michel, a fellow diver who was giving me a lift and we got on the road en route to Dibba. A little bit of Thursday traffic on the way to get out of Dubai and some traffic in Sharjah did not bother us much as we enjoyed chatting about our diving adventures.

Welcome aboard!

Once we passed the passport control on the border with Oman, we were ready to get on the dhow. I was super excited as this dhow had rooms with AC although sleeping on the deck under the stars is also pretty fun as well. I got to meet other divers and snorkelers and chatted with the crew about my meal arrangements – think sushi rice and loads of salad. We went to sleep early as we had an early morning dive on Friday.

Stunning Landscapes of Musandam

Waking up surrounded by the sea and huge mountains of Al Hajar range was pretty magical. It was simply amazing to be away from the noise of the city and just to enjoy picture perfect nature around us.

musandam landscape by Fiona Van Buren

Musandam landscape by Fiona Van Buren

A cup of Earl Grey to start the day and I was ready for the brief. Neil told us about the upcoming dive with a great detail. I liked his dive maps as they really helped to visualize the dive and be better prepared for possible encounters.

I was happy to be paired up with Fiona who turned out to be both a great buddy and the most fun person on the boat. I struggled to get i to the 5mm suit (not without some swearing and soap) and got my gear onto the speedboat. The first dive started smoothly and as soon as we descended we were surrounded by the colorful fish and I had that sweet feeling of coming home. About ten minutes into the dive we encountered a leopard shark that was simply beautiful!

Leopard Shark. Photo by Fiona Van Buren

Leopard Shark. Photo by Fiona Van Buren

Later we saw a huge stingray, more than a meter in diameter and we kept a respectful distance while taking photos of it. Rays are my favorite underwater animals and I get ecstatic every time I spot them!

Stingrays are quite common and make great underwater models as they still unless provoked. photo by Michelle Matias

Stingrays are quite common and make great underwater models as they still unless provoked. Photo by Michelle Matias

The other two dives that day were about smaller animals like eels, lobsters and nudi branches.

Spotted moray eel. Photo by Michelle Matias

Spotted moray eel. Photo by Michelle Matias

 

Crown of Thorn Starfish. A deadly beauty

Since most divers were familiar with the danger of COTs (Crown go Thorn) to the reefs, we decided to get rid of the beautifully coloured but dangerous starfish by putting it upside down and placing a rock on top of it. I kind of felt sorry for them but if their population gets out of control they can seriously damage or completely destroy the coral reefs.

Crown of Thorn are dangerous to the reefs as these corallivores eat coral polyps and thus destroy the coral reefs

Crown of Thorn are dangerous to the reefs as these corallivores eat coral polyps and thus destroy the coral reefs

In the evening we enjoyed the sunset and chatted about our favorite finds of the day. We were very hungry so were excited to have a freshly prepared dinner and replenish our lost calories. We concluded the day by taking a group picture, exchanging our contacts and packing for the road. Naturally, we were already making plans to come back as soon as we could. I am definitely back in a few weeks when I can dive in a skinsuit 🙂

About Sheesa Beach

Sheesa Beach Dhow Cruises is PADI dive resort that specialises on diving liveaboards – dhow cruises to Musandam. They offer training both for new and professional divers and have operated in the Musandam Peninsula for more than 15 years.

Visit their website for more info.

Safe diving and hope to see you underwater 🙂

Slava Noor

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