3 Centre Holiday in Oman: Masairah Island

Part two of our trip saw us taking the ferry to Masairah Island.

I LOVE ferries!  The crossing took 100 minutes or so (takes less when at high tide), and cost 10OMR (£17 approx) each way.  There are no places to buy drinks or food on board but you are free to return to your car (and start it up if you want to sit in the a/c) anytime during the journey.




Masairah port was quite busy, lots of fishermen unloading their catches.  

No huge trawlers here, just small boats each with two men fishing with lines and spears.

We headed to the  Misairah Island Resort Hotel, about 10kms from the main (and only) city, Hilf.  It used to be the Golden Tulip and is built from the same plans as the GT Dibba, but much smaller having only 21 rooms.   The staff are really great, going out of their way to make your stay comfortable, in fact they are the best we have ever encountered at this level of hotel in the Middle East.  Special thanks to Keziah for her warm welcome.


Our second and third nights were spent on the beach near Ras Al Ya where apart from the wildlife we had the place to ourselves.  We saw evidence of turtle nests but didn’t get to see any this time but the crabs kept us amused as we sat on the beach in the moonlight.

 


 Very powerful waves and strong currents on the ocean side of the island, but still turtles manage to haul themselves up the beach


On the first night we were there a local fisherman came past and asked for our assistance in recovering a stuck car further along the beach.


We were only too glad to assist by winching him out, although another car had to pull him with a rope at the same time as his 2.7 tonne Sequoia was stuck deeply in soft shingle.

We saw loads of old Landrover Defenders on the island, and in a land where you normally only see Nissan Patrol and Toyota LC pickupts this was surprising. Click on the photo above and you will see four Landies. Is it the aluminium body that makes them such a good buy for the fishermen?   Or are they leftover from the days the UK army had a presence in the area?

Now you could race round and do Misairah Island in just one day.  However the pace of life is very slow here, so it’s the best place possible to chill out and relax.  We were given a map of the island at the hotel and it pointed us in the direction of the highlights.  This was an old boat wreck, wonder how many years it has been embedded in the sand.

 

Rural Oman doesn’t have the facilities we take for granted elsewhere – we drew water from a well for washing

We visited this lovely wadi near the south of the island en route to the “snorkelling beach”. 



When we arrived the tide was high and we saw a huge variety of fish swimming around the rocks as we snorkelled. 

This was the largest fish we saw, about 50-60cms in length.


Always time for a sunset picture



Or two


Did I mention Masairah Island is a haven for wildlife?   Egyptian Vulture, quite a few pairs nesting on the island.

Feral donkeys roam the island having been made redundant some years back by the pick-up truck.

Neil snapped this lovely picture of a bee collecting pollen from some catkins.

There were quite a few camels here, even though there it’s just rocks and beaches.  This one was very protective of her newborn calf.

On our last evening we had a slap up meal of Omani lobster at the Turkish cafe. It was really good and the bill only came to 11OMR.

All too soon it was time to return to the mainland.  Loading of the ferries is a bit chaotic as there is no timetable, you just turn up and barge on.  Stay with your car and watch like a hawk until the ferry is loaded as not everyone is careful with their vehicles – someone nearly backed into my car.  Neil wants to title the above photo “the ship of the desert, all at sea”.

Travellers’ tips

  •  There’s a gas station about 2kms before the mainland ferry port at Shanna, as well as three gas stations in Hilf on the island.
  • There are no shops, restaurants or cafes outwith Hilf, apart from the Masairah Island Resort Hotel mentioned above.
  • If you need ice for your coolboxes, go to one of the fish/ice making factories in Hilf, you will get a coolbox full of ice if you give the loaders a couple of hundred baiza (50p).
  • The sanaiya (industrial) area is located to the left of the Al Maha Gas Station, travelling south out of Hilf.  There are some car repair shops, car washing stations as well as lots of little companies supporting the boating/fishing industry
  • You won’t get a phone signal for a large part of the island, however there is good 3g in Hilf. 
  • Misairah Island has approx 150kms of coastline and you can wild camp on over 100kms of that.  Don’t expect any facilities though!



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