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Middle East: Oman

Dubai to Oman – The Musandam Cruise Day Trip

by Nikki Webster

Almost everyone who visits Dubai visits one or more of the neighboring Emirates, but few take a trip to Oman. There are several routes to pick from, a popular one being Dubai to Dibba because you can take advantage of the Gulf of Oman and experience some dramatic scenery. 

If you are visiting the Dubai, it is well worth considering the Dubai to Dibba route.

Getting to Dibba from Dubai

This is not a trip that I recommend you do solo, one reason being that unless you’ve already got a visa for Oman you may run into problems.  The logistics alone are a huge reason why you should book a tour of some form to take advantage of this trip. 

We booked this trip though our hotel concierge (who was a little reluctant to do so, it has to be said). There are now many options on Viator that you can pick from (please see the link at the bottom of the article).

If you do any research on this route you may read mixed opinions. My advice would to disregard these and just go for it. If you’ve made it Dubai, even if you’re on stick to the tourist type of person this day trip is still something you will appreciate.  If you’re a thrill seeker or some one that likes to go off the beaten path this is all you. Or, if you a collect a country stamp type of person this is certainly for you as well.

So, let’s get into the details:


The northern section of the Peninsula Coast of Oman separates the mainland and juts into the Strait of Hormuz. This region is separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates. The Musandam region is often cited as beautiful as the Norwegian Fjords.

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Getting There:

The tours start early and it’s a long one. You’ll be picked up at around 7:00am and then make the usual rounds to pick up others joining you. Once the bus or van is full it’s off across the dessert to the border.

 The tour will also return you to your hotel. 

Crossing the Border

One cannot help but notice the Oman police dripping in rifles and an excess of other military weapons ready for trouble should it occur. Once we arrived at the Oman boarder an agent boarded the bus to check everyone’s papers are in order. It was intimidating but exciting! They did not check every single passengers’ papers – it was random, but they checked at least a half of the passenger’s paperwork. And, we had someone on board that was quizzed about his prior travels.

We passed through with no issues and on to Dibba port where the real fun begins.

Note: You cannot take any photographs while crossing the border

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Riding the Dhow

Perhaps one of the most exciting reasons to take to this tour is to ride the dhow. A dhow being a traditional Arabic boat. Dhow is the generic name of several traditional boats with one or more masts common to the region.

Now, don’t get me wrong, you can ride a dhow in Dubai but let’s be honest – everyone who’s been to Dubai’s done that. The boats are the same however the landscape is considerably more dramatic. Oman is known for having the some of the most rugged and beautiful coastlines in the world. 

As soon as the dhow takes off you start to see why people compare this landscape to Norway. One difference is the climate, Norway’s cooler and while the water is piercing clear, in Oman it’s a Caribbean blue. 

Imagine yourself relaxing on a fabulous traditional Arabic boat, in the middle of nowhere seeing the mountains of Musandam for yourself. Better, imagine what this looks like when the sun sets. I caught many pictures with the dhow in the background of the sun and cheesy as it might sound, the pictures are priceless.

Here is what to expect in terms of choices of things to do after about an hour’s cruising when we moored at a secluded cove:

  • Snorkel the beautiful blue water
  • Speed boat blasting
  • Banana boat riding
  • Take the speed board to the visiting limestone (White Rock) and tour inside the caves
  • Sunbathe on the beach, or explore the beach
  • Jump or swing off the Dhow and splash into the water
  • Hand line fishing

We opted to explore the beach and caves and admire the vistas.

You get to spend about two hours at the chosen cove and then it’s time to return to the dhow. Back on board, you’ll be treated to a tradition lunch that’s buffet style. 

Food in hand, it’s time to lay back on the dhows cushions and take in the soon to be sunset. It’s a quiet and calm trip. It’s low key with almost all people opting to lay out.

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What You Need to Know

  • Unless you do a tour, you need a visa to visit Oman.
  • If you take a tour you do not need a visa – you will get a day pass subject to your return on the same day.
  • Prior to touring you will have to provide copies of your passport and you need six months of time left on the passport to be able to enter.
  • A copy of your copy a passport must be sent at least 48 hours before the trip so that entry can be arranged. This is important, you can’t arrange this trip the day before you need to book this at least two days (sometimes three) in advance.
  • Tours from Dubai start at around $75 and go all the way up to $500. The spend depends on the tour you pick. Largely, the price is dominated by public (or shared) vs. private.
  • Tours provide everything you need such as snorkeling gear, life jackets, water etc. except sunscreen.
  • You can wear a bathing suit on the beach, other than this be moderate.
  • You do not need currency or cash, everything you need is provided on the boat
  • This is a long day, at least ten hours. In our case it was twelve hours.
  • Non-alcoholic drinks are included, and you can buy alcohol on most tours if you choose.
  • Depending on where you dock, there is a chance the locals will be unimpressed by your arrival. We experience this and it was a little comical. A love hate relationship was exposed before our eyes and the locals tried to chase off the tour company.
  • Taking pictures of Arab Women is considered offensive and before you photograph a local ask for permission.

Note: Some of the beaches have been littered from there tours. It’s sad to see and it’s the main gripe that people cite following this tour. It’s shocking to be somewhere so remote, barely inhabited and stunning yes dressed in trash. Unfortunately, this is a concept I’ve seen in several countries. If you take this tour, please do not leave any trash behind.

Closing Thoughts

The typical traditional Dubai tourist rarely leaves The Emirates during their stay. This is understandable. The Middle East has a reputation for volatility and this alone steer many away from considering branching out. I will tell you that if you use a reputable tour company and have paperwork in order you will be fine. The tour company will take great care of you, they will ensure that you cross and return with no problems.

Most important, you will have experienced something that few do. Lastly, if you get really lucky you’ll experience the debacle that takes place between those that live in mountains sounding the beaches and the tour operators.

About the Author: Born in the UK, Brit moved to the US in 1996 to attend UCF. An avid traveler, Brit constantly seeks out the next adventure while researching cost effective routes. Brit is a passionate, vocal non-nonsense lady that believes the world is her oyster!