It was a short and action packed trip as we began with a full day of shopping and movies in Muscat, followed by two days of diving with Extra Divers in the breathtaking Daymaniyat Islands while staying at the beautiful and brand new Millennium Resort at Musanah. The diving was spectacular, marked by the sighting of a leopard shark, a giant torpedo ray, and to our delight many friendly sea turtles just hanging out or munching on corals without a care in the world. We then embarked on a full day road trip through the scenic interior highway from Musanah to Ras Al Hadd near Sur, stopping at the traditional Thursday souq at Sinaw to check out some khanjars (traditional Omani knifes worn on the belt), Omani scarves and freshly harvested dates.
Although briefly led astray by the erroneous GPS coordinates, we eventually made it to the Al Naseem turtle camp at Ras al Jniz after dark (it was called a camp but more like luxury huts with AC, hot showers, and amazing food!). We got a glimpse of turtles nesting on the beach in total darkness at the Ras al Jniz Reserves. Totally fascinated, we got up at 4am the next morning and headed out to Ras al Hadd to catch some real action. We were the only people on the beach… along with a few mama turtles hard at work. As dawn broke, we discovered a little pod of newly hatched baby turtles breaking free of their nest and making their way to the sea… or attempting to as they scattered in all directions in the dawn light. We watched worriedly then decided to help some of the directionally challenged hatchlings along by transporting them closer to the ocean.
See the baby turtles race for their lives in this video:
After returning to our camp for a wee nap and a quick bite, we then followed our laid-back guide Rashid to his fishing boat for a turtle and dolphin watching excursion and snorkeling. The camp owner Sayed and his wife joined us for the leisurely ride. We saw couples or groups of turtles on the surface in a mating tango. A small herd of dolphins popped to the surface to amuse us every now and then. Finally we arrived at a spot near a small island with a beach where tons of turtles hang out. We put on our snorkels and jumped in and was amazed by the sheer number of sea turtles swimming gracefully just a few feet below the surface. I even temporarily forgot about my hydrophobia and swam happily after these giant gentle creatures.
Oman is definitely my favourite country in the arabian peninsula. I love the harmonious landscape of mountains, sand and sea, the genuine, friendly people, the rich history and culture seen at every hilltop fort and every whitewashed building adorned with dome-shaped windows that echo from a time of cortisans and magic carpets. It might be awhile but I look forward to our next visit to this romantic sultanate.
Photos by: Alan Cheng