Salalah in the south of Oman goes through some extreme changes during the year. The south-eastern monsoon, called the Khareef, starts in July. The rain transforms the lifeless desert to a green oasis in only a few months. Extreme changes also take place beneath the waves. The upwelling of cold and nutrient rich water leads to a dramatically drop in temperature. The sudden temperature drop provides excellent conditions for kelp. From October until December, a giant kelp forest can be seen beside the colourful coral reef. This is one of the few places in the world where kelp and corals grow side by side like this.
A rising tourist destination
Salalah is the second largest city in the Sultanate of Oman. It is a popular tourist destination. It is especially popular within the Arabian world during the Khareef season, as it offers a cooler and more comfortable climate than most of the adjacent regions. A brand new international airport was opened in 2015 and there are lots of construction work ongoing everywhere.
After a thirty-minute drive from the airport you arrive at Salalah beach. This is a resort town which consists of three hotel resorts and apartments. The Juweira Boutiqe hotel became our home during our stay. It got everything we needed and some more.
Lets go diving, but watch out for the camels.
While a small golf car took us from the hotel to the diving centre in Sifah, an hour drive is required to reach Extra Divers in Mirbat. Camels are a common sight and danger signs are featured along the road. You will see endless beaches along one side and high mountains on the other side. Completely dry canyons are running down from the mountain. They turn into big rivers during the Khareef.
Extra Divers Mirbat
The small diving centre in Mirbat is run by Martin Sigrist. He offers courses and daily boat or shore dives. Mirbat is also the main port for the only liveabord operating in Omani waters. The Saman Explorer operates out from Mirbat from November until the middle of May. It can take 22 guests and head out to the Hallaniyat islands where there is a big chance of seeing humpback whales.
The dive centre in Mirbat closes during the Khareef as the sea is too rough for diving.
Martin has plans for the future of the dive center. A small beach resort is under construction in Mirbat and will be perfect for divers when it is ready. This way you will avoid the long drive from the hotel. The boat will then be within walking distance from your room.
The south coast of Oman is an area where not many divers have been before and few dive sites have been fully explored. It is truly a destination off the beaten track. The Italian dive guide gave a very honest briefing during an exploration dive; “We swim in that direction and you will see sand, rocks, corals and fish”. You will always be the only group at the dive site. Although, you will not be alone; An incredible amount of marine life will accompany you throughout the dive. Honeycomb morays, stingrays, turtles and guitar sharks are only a few of the common sights.
If you want to visit, Dykkebazaar will be happy to make you an itinerary.
Check out our first blog post on diving in Oman; Thank you for the wreck, Mr. Sultan!