Oman is one of our more unusual swimming holidays, offering up the chance to swim in the fjord like khors of the Musandam Peninsula and enjoying the company of a variety of sea life along the way. With an incredible swim backdrop, this trip will see you exploring in depth the Khor Ash Sham and discovering some of the clearest waters, perfect for spotting plenty of dolphins, rays and fish. But don’t just take our word for it! We’ve compiled some of guests and head office staff’s experience of Oman over the years to give you a flavour of what the trip is really like. We’re sure the question it will leave you with next will be ‘when will I swim in Oman?’
As many flights from the UK arrive early in the morning, we arrived early and spent a day in Dubai to get a flavour of the place. We stayed in the XVA Art Hotel near the creek – a quirky, independent boutique hotel a stark difference to the skyscrapers of the city. We had a trip on the creek, a look round the museum and quick run through one of the souks finishing with a lovely meal in the evening before our journey to Musandam the following morning.
The Atana Khasab hotel is situated on a high vantage point so views are great - it is 5 stars of luxury! The hotel has a small pool and sunbathing area and you could have breakfast by the poolside which we did each day. The restaurant was lovely and the staff looked after us really well. There is a beach a short walk along the road where we spent 3 mornings doing a bit of swimming and snorkelling and we were lucky enough to see a couple of turtles too. The sunsets and rises here were out of this world. There was even a full moon whilst we were there which was amazing!
The boat we had all week was a local dhow which was absolutely beautiful. It was ours for the whole week and trips up and down the fjords were a very welcome time to relax, chat, watch for the dolphins which followed us and snooze on the way back after a long day. The boat staff were charming and couldn’t do enough for us. Every day lunch was delivered by speed boat- home-made hummus, curry, salad, beautiful bread, fish and as many dates as you could possibly eat.
Each day we ventured a little bit further down the fjord, doing a longer swim in the morning. We were lucky enough to see some fish, although the best sightings were when we stopped for lunch and had a bit of a snorkel. There are quite a few other dhows out just sightseeing and snorkelling, but that didn’t interfere with our swimming at all. The water was smooth so no big chop to deal with. We landed on some beautiful beaches and sunbathed, chatted and relaxed. Lots of the swims we hugged the coastline which has some very impressive cliff formations. The further out into the fiord we travelled, the more dramatic they became. This would be a geographer/ geologists dream venue!
We had a couple of walks onto various vantage points, including one stunning viewpoint where you could see out over two different seas and we saw a school of tuna fish! The guides, as always, are wonderful, Ricky and John looked after us so well. John is a top raconteur so we found out all about Telegraph island and the phrase “going round the bend”. True or not, they made for a good tale!
We were split into the usual three groups and the pace was always fine - some days there was too much to see so we slowed down, other days conditions were perfect for a quick blast. There was always the option to swim for much longer if you wished - the water was never ending so if you fancied a really long swim then that was always possible.
I would recommend this trip for anyone wanting to see the stunning fiords and rock formations and for the chance to swim in some pretty amazing water. However, to see a bit more of the local life, I’d recommend to book a few days after and head to Muscat or other places in Oman. It’s a long way to go for swimming so why not make the most of it and go travelling before or after and explore a bit further afield?
Virginia S, 2016
There is something about Middle Eastern countries’ that have a real charm to me; the culture, the art, the temples and the starkness of all of this against the dry landscape. I’ve visited several places in this part of the world, so having the chance to explore another country in the Middle East and getting to swim there made the Oman Fjords a trip that had been on my wishlist for years. I was so excited to finally go! Most people were surprised that I would be going to Oman to swim, as the idea of stripping down to your costume and finding somewhere suitable to swim in a largely Muslim, conservative and dry area just seemed implausible to most. Some hadn’t even heard of the country, as was the case with the person I sat next to on the plane journey over to Dubai. Still, always one for trying something different, I met my fellow SwimTrekkers in arrivals and we headed off to the Omani border in search of adventure.
The swim location is certainly remote. The winding coastal roads that lead up to our home for the week of Khasab in the Musandam Peninsula means it takes a long time to reach the town, making it feel much farther away, though if you swam the distance between the point where you first see the hotel to the hotel itself it would be shorter than driving! You’ll also feel the openness of this area in the view out over the Strait of Hormuz from the hotel. 60km separates this last stretch of Oman from the next landmass of Iran, with very little on the horizon except for local boats usually fishing or crabbing. On our last night we had a great view of a faraway storm, with lightning striking far in the distance. The purple haze of this one cloudier evening was lighting up the distant mountains, the entrance to our swimming playground for the week – the Khor Ash Sham.
Heading out into the khor has this unusual feel of intimacy within the closing walls of the mountains either side of you, yet it feels so vast and open at the same time, with peaks reaching up to 2000m high. The excitement of wondering what marine life you would see that day would be the talk of the breakfast table, with many of us hoping to be joined by dolphins in the water. On our trip we were lucky enough to see dolphins every day, often jumping in the small bow waves alongside the boat as we entered and left the khor each day. We also saw turtles, rays and crabs on our swims, and we were almost always surrounded by a bunch of colourful fish on each swim.
Every day we explored more of the khor, enjoying coastal swims alongside circumnavigations of some small islands and crossings between the unusual shape of the khor the further we went into it. Most days enjoyed perfect sunshine and flat calms waters. Without a cloud in the sky and water temperatures of around 28°C, these were ideal swimming conditions and no worry of getting cold from not moving around enough. This left us able to swim slower to enjoy what was on the seabed and take our time floating on lunchtime breaks. Storm clouds rolled in or our final morning swim, giving a little chop to lour last long route of the week and some of the thrill that I love about sea swimming the most. By lunchtime, we’d headed up the side of one of the mountains to reach the view along the isthmus between the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Making the short climb to this view, we could see the last of the clouds rolling over the tips of one of the highest peaks, Mount Seebi. The clouds cleared quickly, and we were lucky to see the moody and misty mountains, as well as clear blue skies out over this incredibly beautiful natural sight.
The biggest appeals to me about this trip is the chance to see such beauty that many others will never even hear of. It feels remote and is remote but is actually relatively straightforward to reach. On the map it looks very small, but the farthest point of the khor took over an hour to reach on the boat. One of the best parts of this trip was what would surprise you in the water, making each swim unique. This trip is full of delightful surprises, ones that kept you guessing and kept you hopeful every morning when the dhow left the port.
Olivia W, 2019