Diving and snorkeling sites in north-east Oman around Ras al Hadd, Sur, Qalhat, Tiwi

Diving around Sur in Oman is nice but not spectacular and often shallow. Out best sites are Ras al Hadd, OLNG beach, Qalhat Wadi 3, Crown Peninsula, Devils point. The most exotic dive is the Bimah sinkhole. Here a describtion of our dive and snorkel sites:

Me at devils point

General remark except for Ras al Hadd bay, OLNG  beach and white sand beach, in general the coral does not grow in the shallow water near the coast, propably due to the waves and temperature variations. Near the coast a snorkeler can see fish, sand and rocks. To see soft coral, a diver has to go away from the coast to a depth of 6-8 meter minimum. Soft coral can be found up to about 15 meter.

Dive sites around Sur, Oman.jpg

From East to West:

Wokan wreck near Raz al Jinz: 22.446336 N, 59.83545 E ***

Describtion: The GPS co-ordinates are N22deg 26.782'   E59deg 50.127'. The Wokan is an old 160 meter long wreck lying parallel to the coast at a depth from 5 to 20 meters. The wreck is in a poor condition since cyclone Gonu. The main structure is disintegrated and the cargo of cement bags and equipment such as big chimneys, mast and lifting tools are lying on the sea bed. The imprssive bow on the south side is still in one piece. According the national list of wrecks of the hydrographic office the size is 160 x 21 x 14 m draught and gross 12417ton.

Accessibility: By boat only. Be be careful for strong currents in the indian ocean. An semi-inflatable could be launched from a small nearby beach at position 22.453096 N,59.829011 E.  at a distance of about 1 km.

Pictures: Wokan1.jpg,  Wokan2.jpg

Ras al Hadd bay beach: 22.530594 N, 59.754338 E   ***

Describtion: Go to the Turtle-Beach resort at the west side of the Ras Al Hadd bay and pay a small entrance fee. Swim from the resort in direction of the bay entrance. Stay about 20 meters from the rock wall on the left. The bottom: is only mud/sand but after 100 meters several isolated underwater rock formations are lying at a few meters depth where numerously corals grow and shoal of fish are swimming. Nice for snorkelers. In the turtle beach resort there are toilets and on most days food is served. Alternatively you can drive up the cliff and enter the bay at 22.53161,59.756082 saving a 150 meter swim.

Accessibility: Saloon car

Beach: Fine sand

Depth: Up to 6 meter

Ranking: Very good for north-east Oman

Ras Al Hadd Bay

Ras al Hadd sea side, Rocky beach : 22.532641,59.750288 ***

Describtion: There is a rocky beach behind the turtle beach resort allowing easy access to the sea. Water shoes are essential. From the beach it gets slowly deeper and numerous rock are lying around. The coral grow start at around 5 meter deep. Between 7 to 12 meters there is an impressive coral grow on the rocks and numerous fish are swimming around. On the east side there are some 2 to 3 meter high walls, home of numerous shoal of fish. Turtles are regularly spotted in this area eating from the bottom.

Accessibility: Saloon car.

Depth: Up to 15 meter

Ranking: Excellent for north-east Oman

Shiya east: 22.553346 N,59.664549 E **

Drive from Sur to Ras al Hadd. After drving parallel the long beach east of Sur, the road will go into the mountains. From there after 3.4 km at a traffic sign, there is a track on the left side at 22.538225 N,59.655322 E  Drive 2.4 km on this track and near the sea drive east/right. Hidden after some rocks there is a track down into the Wadi with a nice sandy/fine gravel beach. The inner bay is not very interesting except for a pleasant swim and to snorkel around some large rock at both sides where the fish is hidding. Outside the bay parallel to the coast on both sides there are numerous very large rocks at a depth from 5 to 10 meters lying on the sandy bottom. In the sand numerous rays are hiding. Typical up to 20 rays can be found during one dive. Hardly any coral is present but it is a pleasant place to observe fish and rays. Deeper then 10 meters there is only sand.

OLNG beach near OLNG, Sur 22.676263 N, 59.388077 E **

Describtion: Go from Sur in direction of the OLNG plant (north west). Beyond OLNG continue up to the toll gates and find the track down to the pebbles beach. At the middle of the pebbles beach a large rock formation lies about 100 meter wide and up to 6 meter depth. The rocks become clearly visible at low tide . Between these large rocks numerous coral grow and a great variety fish can be found. It is shallow and easy for snorkelers and divers. Water shoes/booties are almost essential. Beyond 6 meter depth or outside the rock formation there is only sand.

Accessibility: Saloon car but bumpy

Beach: Pebbles and stones

Depth: Up to 6 meter.

Ranking: Very good for north-east Oman  

OLNG Beach2      OLNG Beach3

An other snorkel point is at point T4,  north west  of the OLNG plant at position 22.670224 N, 59.396918 E there are some rocks and a lot of fish. Al little more NW more into the sea there are some lime stone fingers with coral. Accessibility limited since it is inside the Sur industrial area.

At position 22.680025,59.385706 about 100 meter into the sea there is an other limestone finger with coral.

Between the fertilizer plant and OLNG from beach at 22.658151,59.420393 there is a coral area growing on limestone at around 5 to 8 meter deep. Pretty flat area. Accessibility limited since it is inside the Sur industrial area.

Qalhat reef: 22.709056 N, 59.364045 E *

Describtion: North from Qalhat on the Muscat side there is a pebble beach. On the west (left) side there are two very old fixed parasols. From here 150/200 meter into the sea and mainly to the right a long lime stone finger is running parallel to the coast over 200 to 300 meter. Before and after this limestone finger there is only a sandy sea bottom. It is only 10 to 20 meters wide, up to 2 meters high and lies at a depth of 4 to 7 meters. It is full of cracks and holes which are home of several big groups of small fish.  The rocks are covered with healthy coral and several big star fish have been observed..

Accessibility: Saloon car

Depth: 4-7 M.

Ranking: Average

Picture: QalhatBeach.jpg

Qalhat wadi 2 west: 22.724688 N,59.348043 E ***

Describtion: Go from Qalhat west in direction Muscat. Leave the road just before the second wadi on the right. Access below to wadi is difficult and a 4x4 is required. Coral grow starts 150 meter from shore at 6 meters depth and is everywhere up to 12 13 meters. About 200 meter from shore at 11-12 meter depth there is a wall going straight down to 17-18 meters.

Accessibility: 4x4 only

Depth: 18 M.

Ranking: Excellent for north-east Oman

,  Qalhat_wadi_2_west_sea_urchin.jpg, Qalhat_wadi_2_west_wall.jpg, Qalhat_wadi_2_west_christmas_tree_at_17mdepth.jpg

Qalhat wadi 3 west: 22.7292 N,59.345875 E ***

Describtion: Go from Qalhat west in direction Muscat. Leave the road just before the third wadi on the right. Access is a little difficult but a saloon car can manage. Coral grow starts at 200 meters from the shore at 6 meters depth and is everywhere up to 12 13 meters. About 300 meter from shore at 11-12 meter depth there is a wall going straight down to 19-20 meters. Several dark green christmas tree like plant are growing here at 20 meter depth. Some are white (dead?)

Accessibility: Saloon car but bumpy.

Depth: 20 M.

Ranking: Excellent for north-east Oman

Crown peninsula: Google Maps: 22.737750,+59.342131 ***

From Muscat, drive to Qalhat, leave the highway and turn back in direction of Muscat. After 4 km, leave the main road where the power overhead line on coastal side starts/ends. A rough drive through to coastal area will bring you to a tiny peninsula with a rock in the shape of a crown. The pebble /sandy beach will allow easy access but it starts very shallow, so it will take some time to reach deeper areas. Snorkel into the sea until the depth is about 6 meters and you will see the first corals on the bottom. From 8 m to 13 meter depth the bottom is covered with healthy coral and lot marine live can be seen. In this area there are some gullies up to 0.8 meters deep About 200 meter from shore there is an impressive steep wall going from 13 meter almost vertical down to 18-21 meter. There is no significant coral grow on the wall. Turtles are regularly spotted here eating from the bottom.

Depth: 21 meters

Accessibility: Saloon car but bumpy

Beach: Pebbles and sands

Ranking: Excellent for north-east Oman

Crown Peninsula    Crown Peninsula2    Crown Peninsula3 , observed at crown peninsula: Guitar_shark.jpg,  Cow_tail_ray.jpg

Devils point: 22.752814 N, 59.33469 E ***

A wall type reef at position N 22.752814, E 59.334691 running from west to east, 100 meter from shore. It lies about 7 km by car north-west from Qalhat close to the tiny village Al Hayda. The first part from shore to the reef is not so impressive, but then suddenly the depth plunges down from 10 to 12 meter to 14 to 16 meters. The dive site is home of a lot big fish and big rays. The several rocks are full of healthy coral including some purple types. The track to the coast passes a GSM telephone mast, easily seen from the main road. The best accessibility is from the wadi to the east at 22.750365,59.335527 . At high tide of about 2.8 meter it is possible to jump from the cliff at 22.751454 N, 59.335141 E and to climb out again at one single smooth spot. Alternatively the pebble beach to the west could be used. A good car track is going down to the beach but the beach itself is too soft to drive. A long 500 meter (6 minutes) beach walk is required carrying your kit and gear. Enter water around the high or low tide to avoid strong current. Seen Manta, Stingray, Cuttle fish.

Accessibility: 4x4 recommended.

Access point beach: 22.751825 N, 59.326504 E

Beach: Pebbles and Stones

Depth: Up to 16-18 meter

Ranking: Excellent for north-east Oman

Devils point beach <=Access point west beach

Devils point wall at 14 meter deep

Al Hayda wall: 22.757034 N, 59.318528 E **

A wall type reef at position N 22.757034 , E 59.318528 running from west to east, about 50 meters from shore. It lies about 8 km north-west from Qalhat close to the tiny village Al Hedha. The wall previously called Tiwi wall is about 4 to 5 meter high with a lot of variation and holes The several rocks are full of healthy corals. The site is accessible from the tiny beach to the east at N 22.756074, E 59.319772  A 4x4 can reach the cliff east of the small beach and from there it is only a few meters over the rock down to the tiny sandy beach. After entering the water go west/left. After about 50 meters you will find the reef wall. The reef starts at around 11-13m  and goes down to 16-18m. Enter water around the high or low tide to avoid strong current.  If you go right from the entry point you can find an ever higher wall however with less coral growth.

Accessibility: 4x4 recommended

Beach with access point: 22.756074 N, 59.319772 E

Beach: Sandy with stones

Depth: 16-18 meter

Ranking: Excellent for north-east Oman

Al Hedha access point    Al Hayda access point2

Pictures: AlHayda1.jpg  AlHayda2.jpg  AlHayda3.jpg  AlHayda4.jpg

Qalhat/Tiwi  wreck: 22.755633 N, 59.314386 E  *

Describtion: The GPS co-ordinates are N22deg 45'  20.28" E59deg 18'  51.79". This old wreck was more then 30 meters long  but lies now totally in pieces. Only the big motor with a size of a small container, small part of the bow and two vessels are left and a lot of other scrap metal. It lies about 10 meters out of the coast. The coast there has high cliffs, but it is possible (with some effort) to reach the sea through a nearby wadi and snorkel 350 meters to the wrack. According the national list of wreck this could be the MV Ladon sunk in 1970. There is not wall at this site.

Accessibility: By boat.

Picture: WreckQalhatTiwi1.jpg

Tiwi beach : 22.70771 N, 59.361985 E

Not yet surveyed using dive gear. Note that normally coral is found between 6-15 meters. While snorkeling seen stingray, parrot fish, barracuda. None coral seen at snorkeling depth but many under water rocks. Holes in the overhanging rock

Describtion: Just north of Tiwi

Accessibility: Saloon car but bumpy

Beach: Pebbles and sand

Depth: ??

Ranking: Average for north-east Oman

Picture: TiwiBeach.jpg

White sand beach between Tiwi and Fins: 22.894807 N, 59.222274 E **

Describtion:  Long  and very nice beach, popular for camping. Nice sand. Enter the water on the left (north) side of  the beach. Stay about 30 meter from rocky coastal wall on the left and swim up to 300 meters into the sea. The bottom is only sand/mud but at 300 meter from the beach at 5 to 7 meters depth there on several long lime stone fingers pointing south east full of  coral grow. Further into the sea, outside the bay to the north by boat only outside the bay to the north there there are several nice 1 to 2 meter deep gullies at 8 to 10 meter depth with healty coral grow and a lot of fish.. A sonar/fish finder will easilly show these sudden drop-off at these gullies.

White sand beach

Accessibility: Saloon car

Beach: Mainly sand

Depth: up to 6 meter. Shallow area.

Ranking: good for north-east Oman

Picture: WhiteSandBeach.jpg

Small beach south of White Sand :  22.882215 N, 59.225965 E

Describtion:  Small stony beach between Tiwi and Fins: Near track used for Sur to Muscat until coastal road is ready. Water shoes are essential. Several big rocks and some hard and soft coral colonies at snorkeling depth just outside the bay to the left (north). Not yet surveyed using dive gear.

Accessibility: Saloon car but bumpy ride

Beach: Pebbles and Stones

Depth: ??

Ranking: ??

Picture: SmallBeachSouthOfWhiteSand.jpg

Small beach north of White Sand: 22.906519 N, 59.221373 E *

Describtion:  Small stony beach with some sand. Between Tiwi and Fins. About 200meter  from coast the sea bottom drops from about  8 to 12 meters with some stone formations. No steep walls. Average coral growth starts at 6 meter depth.

Accessibility: Saloon car but bumpy ride

Beach: Pebbles and Stones and some sand.

Depth: 12m

Ranking: Average for north-east Oman

Picture: SmallBeachNorthOfWhiteSand.jpg

Sinkhole near Bimah: 23.036514 N,59.072263 E

The Bimah sinkhole is a spectacular limestone crater with blue-green water at the bottom. It lies . It lies in a fenced park with toilet facilities just behind Quariyat near the coastal road in direction Tiwi. Access is free but it is a long walk from the parking place to the entrance of the sinkhole. An long climb down the stairs is required to reach the water. The top layer of the water is crystal clear and in winter the temperature was about 25 degrees. The middle part of the sinkhole is shallow and there are some green algae growing at the deeper areas. A lot small fish is swimming around of the same type as found in the numerous wadi pools in Oman. On the north west side (opposite of the stairs) the water get deeper and diameter of the hole increases with depth. The wall becomes a roof on which algae and small sponges grow. Up to around 8-meter depth the water is clear but deeper the water becomes very warm and gets a orange brown color with a sulfuric taste. Both the muddy bottom and stone roof lay under a slope of around 30 degrees. The visibility deteriorates quickly and we managed to reach 15-meter depth with visibility less then 1/2 meter. For a deeper dive, a rope is most advisable since it becomes very disorientating. The space between the wall/roof and bottom slope is maybe 4 or 5 meters and hitting the roof could be painful.

On the north-east side (left side from the stairs) there is an underwater cave going about 10 meters inside the limestone. The maximum depth here is about 8 meters and the water is crystal clear. No torch is required but divers should be careful not to disturb the sediment which could reduce the visibility to dangerous low levels.

At the moment I assume that orange water is colored by sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. The sulfuric acid produced by bacteria is hollowing out the lime stone hole. A water sample showing a PH of 4-6 will confirm this.

Accessibility: Saloon car

Depth: 17 M minimum

Bimah cave

Pictures: Bimah_5meters_depth.jpg,  Bimah_near_entrance_NWcave.jpg,  Bimah_thermocline.jpg,  Bimah_sponge.jpg

Quariyat Wreck, MS Mimoona

N 2316.604 / E 5856.033, depth 8-16m. Not yet visited. 23.27673333 N, 58.93388333 E   According the national list of wreck this is the Maymoonah, sunk on 6 May 1982. Size 40.5 x 8 x 3m draught, gross 398 ton.

Island near Quariyat (Ras Abu Da'ud/Al Hedaph?): 23.322001 N,58.917446 E ***

Describtion: South of the island at around 6 to 15 meter deep there is nice coral growing on the rocks. Group of small sharks visit regularly the area. East of the island there is a very impressive steep stone wall stretching more then 100 meters from west-east. It lies just below below the surface and goes almost vertical down to about 20 to 25 meters deep. Big groups of parrot fish and other fish can be observed here.

Accessibility: Boat only


An finally an old but excellent dive and snorkel describtion around Sur, author unknown: DiveSur.pdf

Last update: 2009-7-22, han kleijn's email address

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