Hasan Kamoonpuri — Of the 60 diving sites in Muscat Governorate,
Daymaniyat Islands archipelago, a group of nine uninhabited Islands,
can be singled out as the largest area of outstanding beauty and
natural scenery in Oman. Known for its pristine corals, diversity of
marine life with whale-sharks and leopard sharks as regular
visitors, Daymaniyat Islands are popular during the New Year and
Daymaniyat Islands are set to emerge as the regional hub for diving and other water sports. Since the best time to enjoy scuba diving, snorkelling and dolphin watching trips in Oman are November through January there is a beeline of tourists, including local visitors, at the Daymaniyat Islands nowadays.
With nine islands and a sanctuary for migrating birds, Daymaniyat is a Nature Reserve under the protection of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs for the past 16 years. Located about 18 kilometres off the Batinah coast, these islands offer excellent off-shore diving opportunities, says Keith Holt, Director, Global Scuba. Some tourists who come in groups like to go in for camping trips on various islands, dolphin watching, game fishing, and other sea tours.
Global Scuba, which specialises in diving at the Daymaniyat Islands, the jewel in the crown of the dive sites in Oman and the GCC, says the diving is spectacular with 12 diving sites offering magnificent gardens, reefs and walls of 110 species of coral of which 10 per cent are unique to Oman. The marine life is very rich with 280 species of fish — such as large pelagiacs, manta and sting rays, leopard shark, turtles and not forgetting the whale shark, which is a frequent visitor. The sea off the Islands are also a paradise for those who enjoy snorkelling.
Daymaniyat is one of the few sites which is full of colour with its never ending soft coral, pastenague rays, moray eels, diodons and leopard shark dozing on a bed of white sand. A unique feature of Daymaniyat is that tourists can enjoy regular sightings of five of the seven known species of turtles. Another distinctive feature is that it offers several unique spots which are outstanding tourist destinations.
Garden of Eden, a popular spot at Daymaniyat, is known for its unique landscape with enormous blocks of soft coral — orange, purple and yellow — in a multitude of shades. The leopard sharks like to “stroll” around the garden and welcome the company of the whale shark!
June Daymaniyat, another exciting spot is a big draw for tourists because of its tables of coral, soft corals and schools of multi-coloured fish. The site, which is a further 10 minutes away, is the best opportunity to sight the whale shark during summer time,.
Noodle Daymaniyat, an equally attractive site, is the favourite spot for the leopard sharks to take their siesta and if you are likely to miss them then there is the magnificent scenery to savour. It is a popular rendezvous for rays, turtles, bee nest moray eels to get together and it is a delight for the eyes, says Monique Borlée of Global Scuba.
The Aquarium at Daymaniyat is the pearl of the Daymaniyat Islands where one can find and see a vast array of fish, and corals. At times there are so many fish that it is difficult to see the magnificent under water scenery. Schools of crabs, vivananeaux, bat fish, (who will follow you throughout the dive) barracudas, and trigger fish with red teeth make the site all the more attractive. Rays are enormous — eagle and stingray; turtles, leopard sharks, moray eels, scorpion fish, guitar sharks and in summer the whale shark is a regular visitor. If they are at home you can meet the sea horses, says Keith Holt.
Hayut Daymaniyat, which is a wall going down to about 20 metres, is known for an abundance of purple soft corals. For the bee-nest morays this as a meeting place. It will be a good idea to take your torch with you, there are a lot of overhangs where the rays and lion fish are hiding.
The Turtle City at the Daymaniyat is not deep, so diving here is ideal for beginners. The coral garden is spread out like a carpet. Large marine turtles are very common as are the bat fish. If you are lucky the leopard shark will keep you company with small manta rays.
Ever since its inception in 2003, Global Scuba has seen a steady rise in tourists going in for water sports in Oman, which includes boating, diving, snorkelling, surfing, donut and banana rides, water skiing, knee-boarding, turtle watching, caving, or just plain kayaking at the beaches.
A tourist from Iran who recently visited Daymaniyat Islands, said it’s underwater scenery features stunning rock falls, picturesque walls and reefs festooned with colourful array of coral and tropical fish. Its shallow bay dives and deep wall dives attract both the new and experienced divers.
The Daymaniyat Islands, about 17-km offshore, support extensive reef development. Daymaniyat reefs are typically dominated by a few genera, but at some sites where the assemblage is mixed, coral diversity is known to be high. Daymaniyat reefs provide a diverse habitat and feeding gro unds for commercially important fish and a high potential value to Oman’s tourism industry, says Monique Borlée.
Most tourists accept that the islands of Daymaniyat are exceptionally beautiful. They are a treasure trove of nature’s gift of beauty.
The diving here is the best in the Middle East and the variety of sea life is considered by many divers to be richer than that found in the Red Sea.
Daymaniyat Islands Nature Reserve, located in Wilayat Al Seeb in the Muscat Governorate and Wilayat Barka in Al Batinah South Governorate, is a big attraction for tourists. It is spread over 100 hectares (247 acres) and is composed of nine islands.
The reserve features pristine beaches on which the white sands are caressed by the sea’s crystal blue waters. This reserve has a rich natural heritage and is replete with several kinds of coral reefs, including some examples that are quite rare. The island is home to a large number of sea turtles that lay their eggs and nest there, as well as a magnet for migratory and indigenous birds.
— Pictures by Global Scuba