Damaniyat Islands


These government-protected rocky islands, around an hour’s boat ride off the Batinah coast, are rich in marine life and make an exciting destination for snorkelling and diving. Day trips can be arranged in Muscat, through Al Mouj Marina or a dive centre, but for a shorter boat ride, it's possible to visit the islands from the Millennium Resort in Mussanah. A permit is required to visit, but this is usually included in the cost of the excursion.

Whale sharks loiter around the Damaniyat Islands between August and October, while turtles feed off the coral gardens and congregate in large numbers in summer. Angel and parrot fish are commonly seen at any time of year and striped sea snakes are another feature of the area – though be warned, the latter are lethally toxic. The water can be a bit choppy around the islands, so the trip is probably more attractive to strong swimmers – or check the weather conditions before leaving.

Ad hoc camping is permissible with a 'voucher to visit' (per person OR1, payable only by credit card) from the Ministry of Environment. These vouchers can be bought from dive centres and the instructions for use are given on the voucher. Formalities must be completed by SMS the day before use. There are no facilities on any of the uninhabited islands: bring all equipment, food and water with you.