On meeting our friendly and capable Dive Master for the second day, our previous evening's downturn was instantly forgotten as we were informed we were diving the 'Aquarium', probably the most famous of the dives sites on the Damaniyat, and for very good reason.  This site never disappoints as it's so abundant with life, both big and small.  You could spend an eternity gazing at its wonders.  This is a must do dive!  With contented smiles on our faces we headed back west to 'Three Sisters' in the Eastern Islands expecting a less thrilling dive, oh how wrong could we have been?  This site turned out to be the highlight of the trip with everything from stunning corals, enormous moray eels, octopus, turtles, lobster, rays, leopard sharks, swim throughs and even a small cave feature.  Once again sixty minutes or one hudred & fifty bar just wasn't enough to take it all in.

Without question the beautiful Damaniyat Islands in Oman are an absolute must do dive trip whilst you are in this region.  With affordable, good standard accommodation, professional dive centres with good staff, equipment and boats to take care of you. All of the aforementioned adventure is only a mere four to five hours drive away from Dubai. There surely can be no excuse for the diving enthusiast not to pay this area a well deserved visit.

The Damaniyat Islands are suitable for PADI Open Water divers/BSAC Ocean Divers or equivalent. Navigation on the dives is very simple should you wish to explore without the dive guide or take your time taking photos.

On our trip we stayed at the Al Sawadi Beach Resort and Spa. These guys took good care of us in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Our diving was organised with Extra Divers Al Sawadi who I would fully recommend, though there are of course other equally well established dive operators in the area that will take divers to the Damaniyat Islands.

If you are looking for a more relaxing option I would suggest that you book a two dive per day weekend package. For the real bubble heads go for the full on version of three dives per day.

I am already looking forward to my next trip there. I hope this article has inspired some of you to get away from your usual dive sites, and break your surface tension on a dive trip to the Damaniyats.

Reg P



By: Reg P

After an amazing first trip to the Omani Damaniyat Islands back in November 2011, a return visit was undoubtedly overdue.  The wheels were set in motion and the event details were posted on the ‘Dubai Scuba Smurfs’ facebook page, which has become a very successful method of bringing like minded groups and individual scuba fanatics together for a variety of bubbleicious gatherings around the region.

The Damaniyat Islands are said to be the ‘Jewels in the Crown’ of Oman’s diving and from my own experience I believe they are certainly amongst the most colourful, diverse and photogenic in the region.  The islands cover approximately 203km2 and are Oman’s only Marine Reserve.  The nine uninhabited limestone and coral reef islands are situated in the Gulf of Oman between 18 -35 kms (35 – 75 minutes nearest to furthest away) East from Al Sawadi or 50 kms from Muscat.  The reefs themselves are a stunning home to no less than one hundred types of soft and hard corals and several hundred species of fish.  And all this is only 4-5 hours from Dubai, now that’s got to be worth a visit!

We arrived at the Extra Divers Al Sawadi Dive Centre bright and early, ready and eager for some great diving.  After about 45 minutes we had signed the essential paperwork and were on our way to the Central Islands to dive ‘Garden of Eden’ which was fantastic and really got us energised for what was to follow. 

On the small trip to our second dive site at ‘Sira Island’ we were suddenly graced with the presence of a majestic humpback whale, cruising and demonstrating its immense power by breaching clean from the sea as if to tease our waiting cameras.  After another beautiful dive on 'Sira Island' we headed back to Al Sawadi for a quick reload of tanks and then immediately back out to Damaniyat for a third dive on 'Walid Junn'.  Our intention from previous visits was to night dive on one of the Damaniyat dive sites, but to our disappointment this is no longer an option for night diving, due to travel safety reasons. We took the dive centre up on its alternate offer of diving the local 'Al Sawadi Rock' at night which turned out to be even more disappointing.