Oman: Masirah, the island where time stood still
Masirah, the island where time stood still
When the summer heat rises to 50 degrees Celsius I travel to Masirah Island (مصيرة) at the East Coast of Oman that has a temperature of 26 degrees all year round.
Masirah offers a great trip far away from the modern luxurious lifestyle in the city and is an oasis of peace for nature lovers, hikers, and watersport lovers. With an area of 650 km² it is mainly deserted except for a few small fishermen towns in the North.The hospitality of the islanders along with the harmony of nature gives you a profound sense of serenity. It is the best place to relax, to wander off through the varied landscape, kite surf on big waves or have a chat with the friendly fishermen who drag their nets.
Shimmering in the sun
The inland of Masirah looks like the perfect picture of a varied desert landscape. Gold dust flies over the vast desert land towards the blue horizon while rocks coated with crystallised flocks of salt shimmer in the sun.
Ghaf trees illuminate under the bright sky on the hills of the inland while wintering birds from Asia, Africa and Siberia twirl and frolic across a clear blue sky. Goats, donkeys, camels, and a horse eat from the luscious bushes along the meandering wadi. For a moment you might even experience a fata morgana, when you see mountain tops covered with sand dust looking like creamy snowy cliffs in a winter landscape.
Azure bays and fierce waves
The coast line of Masirah is incredibly varied for such a small island. Along the coast you’ll find calm azure green bays intersperse with splendorous sights of fierce waves splashing on rocks.
The beaches are built up from coral, shells, and stone to powdery sand that gently caresses your feet. If you’re lucky you’ll find yourself surrounded by a labyrinth of drag marks of rare sea turtles that lay their eggs in the loose ground.
Relaxing pace of life
Before 9am and after 4am Masirah comes to life. Traditional dhow boats wiggle gently on the rhythmic motion of the sea. Small fishing boats drive on shore followed by loud squeaking seabirds that are looking for a quick and easy meal. Islanders sit in groups on the beach enveloped by a cool breeze while young Omani children in traditional dresses in myriad colours hop from rock to rock looking for crabs. Meanwhile fishermen untangle their nets and transfer their catch into big boxes on pickup trucks. Cuttle fish, Hamour, Dorado, Seabream, Lobsters…
The pace of life on Masirah is so relaxing that a weekend on the island feels more refreshing than a 14-day holiday in a spa.
Where and how?
After an hour trip on the ferry Alyasoora that leaves from Shannah on the East coast of the A’Sharqiyah Region in Oman, dolphins guide you into the harbour. Bookings for the ferry can be made via Directferries. Please note that timings can change due to hard wind or during holidays. There is a small hotel next to the harbour.
Masirah Island has a few hotels varying from very simple guesthouses to more luxurious resorts. It’s also possible to rent a villa.
Don’t leave a footprint
The island and various other places in Oman are home to some rare turtle species. Although the Omani government is working hard to protect them they are rapidly declining in number. Please don’t drive, camp or pick-nick on sandy beaches. You might ride over a nest or make the ground too hard for turtles to dig one.
Use proper fishing equipment and make sure that nets and/or lines aren’t left behind.
Always pick up after you. Each piece of plastic, wire or foil can kill a turtle (and the camels, goats and donkeys).
Please note that while the islanders are very hospitable towards tourists they do value their privacy and quiet life on the island.