In the world of scuba travel packing your equipment and ensuring you have all the essentials, while maintaining baggage weight can be a real problem. This is one of the reasons I like diving in Oman. The British love to dive in the warm waters of the Red Sea to escape the cold harsh exploits that go with UK winter diving. The beauty of Oman and especially the Damaniyat Islands is that its like diving in the Red Sea, minus the exorbitant number of divers and dive boats. Win win for us folk living in the region, but lets keep it at least a little bit of a secret ah!

I recently set off to spend a weekend diving with Oman Sail  at the Hotel Millennium Musssanah Resort. This centre is a three hour drive out of Dubai on a good day, if you have the fortune of quick border crossings. If you aim to go during a public holiday my advice would be DON’T, as I have been held up at the border for four hours in a passport queue. This was an experience I would rather forget than repeat and would not wish on any of our readers.

Once over the Border you can breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that you will soon be at one of the best dive centres that I have had the pleasure of diving with in Oman. Its a shame that some of the hotels in the UAE have not grasped the concept of offering the levels of dive tourism that I experienced in Oman.

The centre is part owned/managed by Richard Bacani, a big friendly bear of a Croatian man, who has a vast in depth knowledge of diving, servicing equipment, and dive training. His centre has a wonderful friendly & relaxed feel while maintaining its professionalism. The Omani staff team work very hard to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time. The centre has been open for approximately eight months and has pretty much ironed out all of its teething problems. It boast an excellent training facility with two large class rooms, shop, a large compressor room that can cater for most tec divers needs, and very good accommodation in the Millennium Mussanah Hotel, that is just a stones throw from the dive centre. If like me you like to load and unload your own equipment then this is very easy to do as the centres dive boat is mored at a very good enclosed marina complex just in front of the dive centre/hotel.

The dive boat itself is a very spacious purpose built dive boat with a fly bridge (The fly bridge alone can comfortably take approximately seven people). We enjoyed stretching out on the lower deck after putting all our equipment in the purpose built spaces. Each diver has a large tough box to stow equipment in, or you can stash your gear under the many seats that edge the lower deck. The lower deck and fly bridge are both Biminny covered to protect divers from the sun. Very nice to see a walk off flat platform at the back, powerful in board engines, luxurious on board toilet facilities, huge cabin area, and an on-board fresh water wash-down facility.

The crew gave us comprehensive dive briefs and were more than happy to guide those who prefer the added safety of diving with someone who knows their way around the dive sites.

Richard has designed an employment scheme to employ local Omanis, who he has put through a rigorous training programme. The great thing with this team is they are very keen and extremely proud of what they do, and the service they provide, and rightly so as some of them have over sixteen years experience on/under the sea in this geographical region.

I am looking forward to my next visit, keep up the good work guys.

Jon F

Diving in Oman