After a few days in the UAE, we are now back in Oman. The port of Khasab is very small and does not get many tourists so does not have much of an infrastructure built up. Needless to say, no free wi-fi here! There are only a couple of choices for this port. One involves seeing a fort in the area; the other is to take a Dhow cruise.
A Dhow is a style of wooden boat that is common here. It is covered, which is a good thing because otherwise people would get fried to a crisp! Since we had no interest in seeing a fort, we opted for the cruise. I contacted a couple of different companies and ended up selecting Khasab Sea Tours. Their rates were reasonable (25 Euros pp) and they would provide water, tea, coffee and fresh fruit. We could either have a morning tour or an afternoon tour. I thought it better to go out in the morning, so we booked a tour that would start at 9 am and end at 1:15 pm. Forty-two people signed up for the tour, but more joined at the dock, so we had a group of 50.
Let me say this upfront: If you are at all prone to seasickness, please do not do this tour! We apparently have the roughest seas that they have seen in the area for ages, so perhaps it would be more doable if it had not been so windy. The Dhow bobbed up and down in the water; there were also strong diesel fumes that actually bothered me way more than the motion of the boat. By the time we reached the turn to enter the fjord (which would be much calmer waters) Clayton was seasick. He was not the only one. Soon, a motorboat pulled up next to the Dhow to pick up a group of 6 that wanted to return to the ship. My husband decided to join them. Later, he told me that the ride back to the ship was rougher than Dhow ride; the boat was going fast and was doing some considerable bouncing on the waves. The prow of the boat was all the way out of the water (except when it was smacking down on the waves). A few of the passengers were “feeding the fish”, so to speak.
Not long after the group left the Dhow, the water calmed. Soon, a group of 3 dolphins was spotted. We all grabbed our camera and tried to capture the magic moment when the dolphins came up out of the water. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have lots of shots of water. By the time I located the dolphins in the viewfinder, they had already gone under. There were 3 other boats trying to find dolphins as well. I think the dolphins were spooked by being surrounded by the Dhows; they took off immediately when they were circled. We spotted more dolphins; same result. Poor pictures, scared dolphins. Our captain kept trying to make noises to attract the dolphins but didn’t have any success. He told me later that the water was too choppy for them. I didn’t know that dolphins were bothered by this, but who knows?
We passed by a small village in the hills that is only accessible by water. Apparently, fishing is how they survive because there isn’t enough water to grow anything there and it is in the middle of nowhere. There is a small island in the fjord (Telegraph Island); we dropped anchor (a big rock tied to a rope) near the island and those of us that wanted to swim or snorkel were given the opportunity to do so. I wanted to snorkel and had brought a disposable waterproof camera to try to capture some of the fish and coral that I anticipated seeing. We had to swim close to the island to be able to see any marine life. I continued until I could touch bottom. My mask was leaky and I didn’t want to be too far over my head because it kept filling up with water. Additionally, since Clayton had left the boat, no one was looking out for me if I ran into trouble. My feet were cramping up when I swam in, so I was a bit nervous. There were sea urchins all over the place. I had to be very careful not to step on the sea urchins. One man in our group got quite a few spines in his foot; it looked very painful. I did step on something that cut my foot a little bit, but no major damage was done.
I didn’t see that much marine life. Unless, of course, you count sea urchins. Plenty of those! Many of them had broken clam shells laying on top of them (I am not sure why). There were some small fish but nothing too exciting. I swam back to the boat and chatted with some fellow Cruise Critic folks until the captain checked with me to see if everyone was on board. I thought we were missing a few people so waited a little while longer. I tried to wave at everyone in the water to let them know it was time to return to the boat. Most of those I waved at ignored me. I assumed they came from different boats (there were several anchored there). It would definitely be a long swim back if you missed the boat! Actually, I figured that if they were from our boat that they could easily hop on one of the other Dhows to return to port.
The ride back was much the same as the ride there but in reverse. We passed another village in the middle of nowhere. I think the captain told me that the people that lived there were very vicious. His English wasn’t too clear and my hearing is terrible, so he could have been telling me almost anything! I thought he said vicious. I also thought he said something about incest, but I am sure I misunderstood that statement! Anyhow, the ride was pretty smooth until we reached the end of the fjord. As soon as we approached the open water of the gulf, it got rough again. I tried sitting in the front of the Dhow to see if I could avoid diesel fumes. It seemed a little bouncier up front and the diesel fumes were definitely noticeable there, too. I returned to the back of the boat; no fumes! Wind direction, Heather, wind direction! I laid back on the cushions, closed my eyes and bounced happily back to port. We were dropped off within walking distance of the ship, so headed back to the cabin to shower off the salt water.
We didn’t go into town but spoke with another couple who did. They had also gone on a Dhow cruise but the captain decided to cancel the excursion because the seas were rough and a couple of people were seasick. So, they had nothing to do other than visit Khasab. They sounded distinctly underwhelmed. Their main comment was that all of the buildings were the exact same dull color. Not much to see or do in this town!
This was a really fun excursion (as long as you are not prone to seasickness). It was a nice break from all of the more traditional tours we have been doing. I didn’t have to write a single note to remember what the tour guide told me; I spent a lovely morning chatting with lovely people in beautiful surroundings. The tour company provided an excellent value. Life doesn’t get too much better than that!