Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dibba vs. Khassab

There's a little chunk of Oman isolated beyond the borders of the UAE. It's called Musandam, and a very popular activity to do there is to take a half-day or day-long dhow "cruise" to admire the fjords and the turquoise water and, if you're lucky, the dolphins. Musandam has two main ports: Khassab, on the north end, and Dibba, on the south.

In January 2012, we took a dhow cruise out of Khassab. Last weekend (ahhhhh I love taking Saturdays off), we took one out of Dibba. I was curious beforehand how the experiences would compare, but I didn't find much online. So for your education, here is a comparison of a dhow cruise in Khassab vs. a dhow cruise in Dibba. Unfortunately, I could not control for all variables. We were in Khassab in January (it was cold) and in Dibba in May (it was hot). Some of the differences might be because of that. Who knows?

Price. Our boat ride in Khassab cost less than the one in Dibba, but the one in Dibba was about an hour longer and included lunch and more activities (more on that later). However, there might have been more activities on the Khassab boat if it had been warm outside. Also, the Khassab boat ride may have been cheaper, but we had to pay for an Omani visa to get there. More on that later, too.

Getting there. The drive to Dibba is SO MUCH EASIER. It's shorter, but more importantly, it's less stressful and you don't have to pay to cross a proper border. That is, if you get a note from your boat company allowing you to do so - foreigners aren't usually allowed to cross into Oman at Dibba. It was such a relief to not have to battle Ras al Khaimah traffic or a tedious border crossing or narrow mountain roads, which is what you have to battle through on the way to Khassab. Just zip zip through Al Dhaid and Masafi and you're there. Wonderful.

Boat. The boats were roughly equivalent, but the Dibba one was juuuuust a little bit nicer. Nicer WC, nicer seating on the upper deck, etc. But in the essentials, they were the same. One advantage of the Khassab dhow was that it was virtually empty: there were six of us and then our Korean friends, and that's it. The dhow in Dibba was quite a bit more crowded, but again, that could be because of the difference in season.

Activities. The cruise out of Dibba had way more activities. Swimming, banana boat rides, a stop near a beach, fishing, snorkeling, etc. However, in January 2012 in Khassab, I remember them saying that we could swim if we wanted to, and I think we even put down anchor near a beach, but it was just so cold that we didn't do it. I think it's safe to assume that the same activities would be on offer in Khassab during the warmer months.

Scenery. Khassab is much more picturesque. You wind in and out of the fjords and the mountains are very dramatic next to the turquoise water. Dibba was beautiful, but in a more average way.

Food. The dhow in Khassab was stocked with better drinks (bottled water and a variety of pop). Dibba only had water cups and fake juice. Still, there was plenty of it. Both boats offered fruit and biscuits. The Dibba cruise included lunch which, honestly, I didn't think was that good. I mean, it's a freaking boat. It's not going to be gourmet. Personally, I would prefer to pay less and bring my own food. But it was fine.

Overall. Well, it depends on what you want to get out of a Musandam dhow cruise. If you want striking scenery and a pleasant trip through the fjords, it's worth suffering through the border crossing to get to Khassab. If you just want to spend a day on a boat in pleasant scenery, or you don't want to hassle with a longer drive, Dibba is great. It should be noted that even with all the fun we had in Dibba this weekend, Miriam still expressed her disappointment that we didn't see any dolphins there. Such is the childhood metric of a good time, I suppose.

dolphins in Khassab

2 comments:

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I loved the cruise from the tip of Oman, but it was cold. I'm sure we could convince your fam to repeat the Dibba cruise in warm weather!

Lina Juliette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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