If you have the time for a road trip through Oman, Masirah island is a fantastic place to stay for a couple days. With its white sandy beaches and stunning views of the ocean, Masirah Island is the favourite place to relax for many of the locals who live in Oman. You can also meet some tourists from all over the world, but very-very few. Masirah is still an unspoiled paradise! With all its advantages and a few disadvantages. Let’s see now the perfect roundtrip on Masirah, how we saw it.
About Masirah Island
Masirah is an Indian Ocean island, 20km off central Oman’s coast, south of the Wahiba Sands. It is 95km long and between 12-14km wide. Masirah, also written as Masira, is indeed a small island, but actually it is the biggest island of Oman.
Interesting facts about Masirah Island
- In 1975, Oman offered use of the Masirah Island in the Arabian Gulf to the United States.
- Masirah was made his homebase by Alexander the Great, who called it the Serpents.
- The island is being famous among kite surfers and turtle lovers.
- Most of the islands interior is uninhabited.
- The only way to access the island for tourists is by ferry.
Things to do on Masirah Island
Visit the Corniche Mosque
We can find more mosques on Masirah island but the one that is standing out the most is the Corniche Mosque. We found it open – note: not all the rest of the mosques were open on the island – and they let us in. Even if you are not Muslim, if you respect the dress codes and apply the manners, they welcome you.
Enjoy the beaches of Masirah
All year long, Masirah offers nice breeze, uncountable sunny days, and a warm sea. It is possible to kite-surf and dive almost all around the island. But the island is also perfect for pure beach lovers, as we can enjoy the warm crystal clear water to swim or just to lay on the sandy beaches, almost alone. Not to mention the sunset walks on the long beaches of Masirah are as well incredible.
Best beaches of Masirah
Enjoy the colours of the Arabic sea
The colours of the Arabic sea all around Masirah island are spectacular and somehow unbelievably turquoise blue. You could compare it only to the Caribbeans, however the landscape is very different. It’s indeed a very extraordinary scenery, that you can only admire here, on Masirah.
Meet some camels
If you are coming from the mainland via the desert you’d have probably seen many camels, but on Masirah island there are even more. You can meet them on the main road, sometimes next to road, sometime on the road.
If you meet a camel on the road the best is to wait and slowly overcome without bothering the animal. Usually locals are helping to distract the animals and encourage them gently to leave the road.
Try kite surfing
Masirah Island is a secret kiteboarding paradise. The monsoon season during summer on Masirah Island (“Khareef”) – that’s what the insiders are looking for impatiently. The season kicks off in May/June and kiters as well as windsurfers are packing their gear to travel to this playground of various untouched spots. The season lasts usually until end of September.
Here you find the combination of perfect conditions in various spots on countless breathtaking beaches with flat water and waves. At the south part of the Island you will find beaches with finest white coral sand. Sur Masirah, Gshar Sheikh and Ghab are the most popular flat water spots on the island. If you prefer some swell and rough seas, it can be found within only 15-20 minutes’ drive in the eastern part of the island. The beginners waves are found in Haql. The experienced kite and wind surfers find their perfect wave in Amq, Maglah and Khasit.
Check the bones of a whale shark
The bones you can find displayed in front of a house near to the beach on the Western coast. It’s is visitable without any booking or fee. If you haven’t seen such a thing before, the size of the skeleton can be pretty surprising and impressive.
Go for turtle watching
Masirah is a major nesting site of the Loggerhead sea turtle and the Green Sea Turtle. The island is also home to the largest Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting population in the world. But besides them, we can spot Olive Ridley and Hawsbill Sea Turtles as well on Masirah.
We can spot the turtles only after 10-11 pm till sunrise. We have the chance to meet one Green Sea Turtle in the sand around 9 pm as well near the Masira Island Resort. Please don’t bother them with lights, flash and unnecessary noises, they have important job to do in the sand.
Visit the Dhow ruins
Dhow ruins are scattered all around Masirah, with one highly accessible example, a 250-tonne vessel, being destroyed in a surf off the coasts eastern shores in 1993.
Where to eat on Masirah Island
Frankly speaking the food was very forgettable on Masirah. One thing is that they don’t have many restaurants for tourists, but the other things is that out of the 2 open restaurants the we could find in the entire capital – Hilf – there were no options at all. At both places they gave us a complete al la carte menu, so we were naively happy to choose, but when we wanted to order it turned out that besides hummus and chicken shawarma basically they don’t have anything else. And what they served was not very tasty either. Yes, we were there off-season – but even in the supermarket was hard to see fresh bread. So be prepared to eat industrial pre-packed food.
Where to stay on Masirah Island
Thanks to some new hotels, tourists can now stay for the weekend or even a few days in Masirah and take full advantage of its attractions. Masirah began slowly popping up on travellers’ radars during the 90s, and has intrigued everyone looking for an authentic desert island experience.
Still, if you open Booking.com, you won’t find many possibilities, so it’s better to act fast if you need accommodation on Masirah. We have stayed in Danat Hotel, it’s nothing special, but perfectly served our needs.
If you are looking for something more high standard, we can also recommend Masira Island Resort, that has an amazing coast line with sandy beaches and turtle nesting spots.
Or you can check further options in the below list.
How to get to Masirah Island
The access to the islands possible only via small ferries used by cars, or Royal Oman Air Force flights on either an Airbus A320 or a Lockheed C-130 Hercules. There are no commercial flights from Muscat to Masirah Island. The flights between Muscat International Airpot (MCT) and RAFO Masirah are only for military personnel.
The ferry departs from Shannah port, so first you need to arrive to Shannah. If you are coming from Nizwa, like we did, be prepared to cross the desert. The road conditions were kind of good, we were able to make it with no problems. On the way back from Shannah we went up to Muscat direction. There we faced more sand on the roads, where a 4-wheel SUV is highly recommended for your own safety.
You can choose between two types of ferries:
- The new ferry, operated by the National Ferry Company (NFC). The journey takes 1 hour and the seating is comfortable.
- The second option is by the old ferry boats. Although their facility is not as nice as the newer ferries operated by NFC, it costs less (you pay on the ferry after departure, so make sure you have cash with you as they don’t accept cards), however the journey takes a bit longer. These old ferries do not have a fixed schedule, they leave when they are full. We used old ferries on both ways, on the way there we were the lasts and the ferry immediately left after our entry. On the way back we needed to wait couple of hours, but we could agree with the crew that they keep our space so we could leave and got back for the departure time promised by the crew, and they more or less kept that timing.
Other cool experiences in Oman
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