Tucked in the north of Muscat, off-shore from the town of Barka is an archipelago composed of nine, uninhabited islets called Daymaniyat Islands. The archipelago has been classified as a nature reserve under the protection of the Ministry of Environment since 1996. It also happens to be the first marine reserve in Oman.
Exploring the waters of Daymaniyat Islands
When scuba diving in Muscat, Daymaniyat Islands are among the top destinations. The dive sites are accessible by a 45 to a 60-minute boat ride and as you come closer to the islands, you’ll be amazed by the clarity of the water. Even without jumping in, you can already have a tantalizing glimpse of some of the colorful fish that reside beneath the turquoise waters.
It’s difficult not to be awed by the gorgeous landscape but that is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll find that much of its charm lies beneath the surrounding waters filled with pristine coral gardens and fascinating marine creatures.
The islands are made up of limestone rocks and coral reefs. The south side is noted for its shallow, sandy waters teeming with coral reefs while the north is known for depths of more than 25 meters.
Daymaniyat’s rich fauna
Daymaniyat Islands are noted as one of the world’s top nesting grounds for hundreds of hawksbill turtles and Green turtles that feed in the shallow areas. To preserve this pristine natural environment, the Omani government has restricted access to the outcrops from the beginning of May until the end of October of each year to protect nesting turtles and ensure the propagation of the species. The islands also stand as an important breeding and nesting grounds for a wide range of indigenous and migratory birds such as the Osprey, Red-billed tropicbird, Roseate Tern, White-cheeked Tern, Sooty Tern, Bridled Tern, and Common Noddy.
When you enter the water, be prepared to see an astounding marine realm like no other. The dense hard and soft corals provide a remarkable habitat for a plethora of reef fishes and pelagics. It’s truly a delight to watch the colorful fish encircling the corals. You’re also likely to encounter turtles, stingrays, Moray eels, and leopard sharks. Sometimes, you may come across black-tip sharks.
During the summer and autumn, the whale sharks find their way in these waters to feed on the nutrient-rich waters. When sea conditions are favorable, you can jump in the water to snorkel or dive with these cruising gentle giants.
If the season is right and with a little luck on your side, you might spot bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, and humpback whales. You’ll never know … the sea is full of surprises after all.
Although big marine animals can easily capture your attention, small creatures like the nudibranchs can also be captivating. Watch out for these colorful, stunning animals while exploring these waters. If you love underwater photography, nudibranchs make perfect macro subjects.
Dive sites worth checking
Here are some of the amazing dive sites in the Daymaniyat Islands:
- 3 Sisters
- Garden of Eden
- Little June North
- Little June South
- Shark Alley
- Stingray Paradise
- Turtle Lounge
- Leopard Alley
- Fish Soup Point
- F.A.D. Island
Travel to Daymaniyat Islands
Daymaniyat Islands diving is possible all year round so you can book a trip online at any time. The area has water temperatures around 27 degrees Celsius, visibility of 15-30 meters, and average depths of 25 meters. When it comes to currents, they are usually gentle to moderate.
This breathtaking underwater world has stolen the hearts of many divers and snorkelers. It offers exciting snorkeling and diving experience for beginners and professional divers alike. Once you set your fins in these azure waters, you’re bound to come back for more.