Dibba/Daba straddles the UAE/Oman border, and access is by way of two UAE Police checkpoints, where they will want to see your UAE ID card or passport. It’s important that you have Oman car insurance, although they probably won’t ask see that.
Accommodation wise, there are not many choices north of the border – we’ve stayed at the Golden Tulip in Dibba (Oman side) or if the budget stretches you could always stay in the uber-luxurious Six Senses Zinghy Bay. Six Senses resort is accessible by sea, or by mountain road; if you read my last post you can guess my choice!
We’ve also explored Dibba when we’ve stayed at the Nour Arjaan in Fujeirah (about an hour away) – which we highly recommend, or you could book into one of the hotels at Al Aqaaa, which is about half an hour away.
It is also possible to camp either on the beach next to the Golden Tulip (though it can be busy/noisy at weekends) or further up Wadi Khab Al Shamis. The photo shows us on Dibba beach, where we were lucky enough to see luminous plankton as the waves broke as we had our bbq after nightfall. Whilst there we also assisted the Omani CID to recover a stolen car, but that’s another story!
As soon as you get inside the Omani side of Dibba, you know you are in Oman. Roads are quieter, with less landcruisers/expensive 4x4s on them. Houses are smaller and very often only one storey. You will see at least one goat up a tree, and hundreds of them everywhere else!
This is the mountain road through Oman which takes you out at Khasab – well if you are Omani or Emirati it will, but if you are an expat you will be turned back at then Wadi Bih border post.
However if you drive up the wadi early in the morning in the summer, and then come back down two hours later, the view is completely different, as the sun’s shadows grow shorter, so it’s not a bad thing to have to retrace your steps here.
My favourite part of the drive is where the canyon narrows and there is just enough space for the road – this is a popular place for climbers too
Is this Arabia’s most modest Mosque?
It’s possible to drive up Wadi Khab Al Shamis, avoiding any steep drops to the side like the one in the photo above – I know you can’t see it, but trust me, there was a steep 70m drop – until you reach 25 48.069N, 56 14.185E.
Keep going beyond that point and soon you will be one kilometre above sea level! There are a couple of sights which make the “extreme” part of journey worthwhile, so if you’re scared of heights like me take lots of photos so you don’t need to go back again. Ever!
High up in the mountains these terraces have been built, and over the years the winter rains has washed silt and sand in to them, so they can support crops and animals in the winter.
This we nickname “frilly” or contour mountain. When you take this photo you are about 1050m above sea level and the view is just sublime, a photo cannot convey the scale of the mountains here.
There’s a lovely restored Omani Fort in Dibba, free entry I think, an english speaking guide will tell you about the fort and you are free to wander around in the shade and take photos.
The guide also told us about this huge graveyard, said to contain the remains of 10000 early Muslim followers, sent into battle by Caliph Abu Bakr in 633CE, but despite searching for an hour, we couldn’t find it!
Now a word about dhow cruises. The dhow experience you have in Dibba is very different to Khasab, where there are the twin benefits of extra spectacular scenery and dolphins. In Dibba the mountains and cliffs are smaller, there aren’t dolphins, and while there are lots of fish to see when snorkelling, there isn’t the same variety of species as in Khasab.
You could say that in Dibba the cruise is an “activity” as most boats do line fishing as well as snorkelling stops, whereas Khasab is a scenic tour. Both good but Khasab gets my vote every time!
So that’s it for Musandam, hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour enough to go and make the journey yourself – live life to the FULL!
Oman/UAE border checkpoints
a) 25 36.374N, 56 15.875E
b) 25 37.536N, 56 16.242E
Dhow cruises leave from 25 39.030N, 56 16.097E
Golden Tulip Hotel 25 40.160N, 56 16.161E
Golden Tulip Website
Dibba Fort 25 40.160N, 56 16.161E
Start of Wadi Drive 25 38.072N, 56 16.873E
Mosque (as pictured) 25 46.600N, 56 14.984E