Diving in Muscat, Oman

Diving in Muscat, Oman

Can you dive well in Oman? And what is diving in Muscat like? The coastline of Oman is over 3000km long, with plenty of diving opportunities along larger settlements. And yes, you can dive really well in Muscat.

Prime diving spots, starting with the North, are Musandam, the Greater Muscat Area and Dhofar in the far South. While this was my first trip diving in Oman, I started in Muscat, since I wanted to do a little sightseeing. Here is my experience of diving the Daymaniyat Islands near Muscat from a beginners ( less than 50 dives, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver) view point.

I am writing this as I read a lot of blog posts and also looked at some online diver forums in order to figure out whether diving in Muscat as a beginner would be a good idea.

Let me tell you in advance… I really liked it, and diving in Muscat suited my rookie needs, but advanced divers will find plenty of interest, too. Hope it helps you choosing your next vacation or diving destination!

I apologise in advance for the lack of diving pictures here. I did not bring a camera to my dive trips, concentrating on my diving instead, and since I mostly use my own pictures, it didn’t feel right to use my buddies pictures here.

Visit the pretty Muttrah Corniche in the evening after your dive trip

Dive Sites

A lot of diving in Muscat takes place in the Daymaniyat Islands and Fahal Islands, about 50 minutes by boat from Greater Muscat. Basically, every dive centre “left” or West of Old Muscat will preferably take you to the Daymaniyat Islands, whereas the dive centres to the East in the Bandar Jissah area are often attached to resorts and offer some more local dive sites but the islands as well.

Daymaniyat Islands Dive Sites

The Daymaniat Islands are an uninhabited archipelago of about ten islands, about 20km off the coast of Seeb, a town West of Muscat. The are a designated nature reserve and harbour a wealth of sea birds and are a breeding site for hawksbill turtles, which are abundant in the sea around the islands. It’s forbidden to land for some of the year, and the only way there is by diving day boats. There are 26 dive sites at present – so it doesn’t really get crowded!

Diving in Muscat is possible throughout the year. November to March is considered high season for Oman tourism, as temperatures are balmy, and visibility can be good, but that also varies with the weather. Some others say visibility in winder isn’t the greatest – but more on that later!

If you primarily want to see big marine animals, prepare for the heat as whale shark season is from around September to November.

Visibility is considered at its best around April and May, leaving the Northern hemisphere Spring and autumn as good times to dive in Oman.

Compared to Jordan at the same time of the year, the coral isn’t quite as impressive, there are fewer reef fish but in Oman you get many larger marine animals such as turtles, rays and moray eels – and, seasonally, even sharks. 

So, all in all, Muscat would probably not be a diving destination for me, but it is a great destination where you can do some diving. Oman is a fascinating safe and friendly country to visit, with further diving opportunities in the Musandam in the North and Dhofar in the South.

Where to Stay when Diving in Muscat

To go to the Muscat Dive sites, anywhere in Muscat is fine as long as you have your own transport.

Being the typical tourist, I based myself in Ruwi and stayed at the Haffa House Hotel. It took me 25 minutes to drive to the diving school every morning using the reliable Muscat city motorways. Ruwi has some great Indian restaurants but not much else, to be honest, but it’s just an easy 5-minute drive to Muttrah and its souk.

I also stayed about 10 minutes form the dive school at the Al Sahwa Hotel in a much more residential area called Al Mawaleh. It was super quiet, the Amouage Factory and a couple of malls were just around the corner.

There are plenty of classy resorts right by Muscat’s beaches, but they’re at an altogether different price level altogether.

Without a car, the new estate of Al Mouj might be your best option as you can walk to several dive schools – but to be honest, the area is super new, and although nice, a bit sanitised – there are just three hotels at present, including a brand new Kempinski resort.

Diving in Muscat
My spick and span room at Al-Sahwa hotel, about 10 minutes drive from my diving school

Diving School

Since I wanted to get a Rescue Diver Certification, I contacted several schools. I had trouble finding an SSI school, so I went for PADI. MolaMola Diving Centre was the only company that bothered to respond to my email, so I booked with them, and that turned out to be a great choice. Lovely school with nice owner and lovely competent staff, absolutely trustworthy, really high safety standards.

I had a very calm and knowledgeable older instructor for my course, which went really well, and also went on a couple of fun dives. We did two dives a day off a well maintained speed boat, together with a bunch of snorkeler and plenty of staff to keep us all safe and entertained. We were served a nice lunch and fruit and drinks galore to keep us hydrated. 

In general, I think safety standards in Oman are fairly high, but I can only comment on MolaMola and would highly recommend them. 

However, I do not know the standards of other schools and Al Mouj has several diving schools, all of which get good reviews.


I brought my own mask and shoes and hired everything else. Most equipment was new-ish MAres and Aqualung which was kept in tiptop shape by the MolaMola staff. Many of my buddies commented about the great service – equipment was laid out in the morning according to our sizes, and cleaned by the staff when we returned. A truly five star service. 

The Dives

Muscat-based diving is usually boat diving. So, each morning I would drive to the Al Mouj Marina, pitch up early, have a coffee, then take my diving bag to a nice big boat – with shade.

We even had a bathroom as well as plenty of seating, a water supply, snacks – avery well run boat with a knowledgeable captain. After an hour we’d moor in the marine park and go for our first dive – entry was by giant stride.

On my first day of diving, I was a bit shocked about the visibility – even at 5 metres, it was rather dark and muggy. I also struggled with my trim, and although I was just getting used to all the gear and being under water and this was meant to be a fun dive, I was really concerned seeing my buddies, fumbling with my BCD and trying to stay calm and went through a fair bit of air.

We tried for an hours dive each time, ascending very gently. Then we had a nice picnic lunch on the boat and moved to another dive site. After that we would have another dive in the same buddy team. I felt much happier on subsequent dives, visibility somehow seemed better and it was easier to spot moray eels, trumpet fish, turtles and some smaller reef fish, and some form our group also saw octopi and manta rays.

Go shopping for incense at Muttrah Souk

Dive Buddies

Again, I really lucked out. From meeting some very experienced divers deep into underwater photography (something I am really interested in for the future), to fellow dive enthusiasts, tourists and cruisers on a dive trip. Aged between mid 20’s to  late 50’s, everyone really pleasant and considerate.

Non-diving partner potential

Many Muscat dive centres are based in Al Mouj, a smallish new upmarket settlement next to the sea Apart from some relatively pricey apartments and a new Kempinski Hotel there isn’t much except the airport and some Western food outlets.

Therefore, I highly recommend hiring a car as Muscat is generally very accessible and driveable and then there are no limits for a non-diving partners entertainment – museums, shops, hikes merely half an hour away. I drove every morning from Ruwi, a 35km trip that took 25 minutes once I adapted to Omani driving speed. With a non-diving partner would be better off staying closer to Qurum, Ruwi or Muttrah. Ruwi is not amazing but has the best veg Indian restaurants and is close to Muttrah (where hotels are expensive). Qurum is a relatively upmarket area where hotels with direct beach access are usually global chain resorts priced accordingly.

The Takeaway

Oman and Muscat in particular are great for diving due to the great infrastructure in the greater Muscat area and the really high safety standards. You can book dives and can bring minimal equipment.

I probably would not visit Oman to go diving only, as Oman is culturally rich and safe to travel. You can easily spend a couple days at the sights of Muscat, shop in the souk and the malls, and then, the magnificent Hajar Mountain range with scenic drives, village sand the magnificent Bahla FOrtress are just over an hour away from Muscat.

Most people I met on the diving trips were travelling in Oman, or on a stop from a cruise ship. Dive trips are very beginner-friendly in general.

A few words about brevets

I think at this stage it would make a bit of sense to talk about skills, certifications and brevets.

If you are considering SCUBA diving as a hobby, it would make absolute sense to get at least a basic certification. Open Water Diver (OWD) is the most popular one, and it is offered by Scuba Schools International (SSI) and Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). The National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) equivalent is called Scuba Diver. One of those certifications is usually valid worldwide. Add to that national brevets and qualifications offered by diving associations of your country of residence.

I think it doesn’t matter much which brevet you get as a novice diver – pick the school / instructor you like first, then care about association. I did my first brevet with SSI, then the next two with PADI. Prices are quite similar.

So, the Open Water Diver is a solid base to start SCUBA diving and to be able to rent equipment/ going on certain dives at certain depth.

Advanced Open Water Diver (PADI) or Advanced Adventurer (SSI) are a logical continuation of your basic diving skills and are nice to have – and a prerequisite for the Rescue Diver (PADI) or, which , in my eyes, is a very useful brevet to have, although it’s demanding, and you don’t actually spend that much time underwater. SSI and NAUI have similar courses although you don’t necessarily need to be certified to dive 30metres for their rescue courses.

And after that… a Perfect Buoyancy Specialty Course and Nitrox certification are, in my eyes, useful brevets to have, but at that stage, keep diving and work on your skills and trim and confidence underwater before tackling wracks, drifts, deep diving, anything in challenging conditions.

As for me… I am happily going to dive in relatively shallow waters and look at the amazing marine life, before maybe saving lots of money to consider underwater photography. Although… I am already eyeing up the Divemaster, after which I am definitely going to stop!

The Small Print

I visited Oman in January 2024 in order to get rescue diver certified. All trips were paid in full by myself, there is no sponsorship, any recommendation is voluntary and unpaid.

I learned to scuba dive in Autumn 2022 and once I was in the open water, I found it easy – but everyone learns at their own pace and this post reflects my own experience. I highly recommend that you are comfortable in the water, be a confident swimmer and in good health before you undertake diving. For medical advice, please consult a diving physician.

Also, please note that many standard health insurers do not include hyperbaric chamber treatments in case of a diving accident, so make sure this is included in your policy.

This post was first published in April 2024. There are some affiliate links to Booking.com which mean I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to yourself if you book through one of these links.

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6 thoughts on “Diving in Muscat, Oman”

  • Interesting! I once tried to dive in Muscat, but it was whale shark season so the excursions all changed from scuba to whale shark snorkels. Unfortunately we didn’t even find the whale sharks – though they then went to Daymaniyat and I had my best turtle encounters there, so I can’t complain!

    • Hi Teja, I am really sorry to hear that! Seeing whale sharks would be a huge deal for me, too, but I knew I had no chance in January – and I wanted a break from the Germany cold and dark. The diving boat I went with had snorkellers and divers, with both groups well catered for. I liked DAymaniyat – definitely some nice turtle viewing, one head butted me while I was observing it 🙂

    • Hi Laureen, I am glad you loved Oman! It is a really interesting and diverse country. I have wanted to visit for a long time. So I jumped at the opportunity to diver there, too. It might not be most spectacular, but healthy coral and wildlife, and not overrun.

  • That is such a wholesome experience. I love trips like these. Going to a destination for a specific reason, and accomplishing it every day. Must be so fulfilling.

    • Hi Anukrati, thank you for your nice comment! It was fulfilling but also hard work, but good instructor helped.

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