- Coastline Ancient mountains, languid seas
- Coast life Date farms and fishing dhows
Perched on the northernmost tip of the Arabian Peninsula in the Strait of Hormuz, this remote and spellbinding Omani exclave is all lunar sandscapes, rock-strewn plateaus, ancient valleys and cliff-bound fjords.
The Ruus al Jibal is separated from the rest of the country by the UAE's Hajar Mountains: imagine the sultan ringing the best bits on the map – 'Yep, we'll have that palm-lined valley, that strategic Gulf trading passage and that little bit there with the nice oasis and date groves' – and that's more or less the lie of Oman's extra land. To the north, Khasab's fertile plains and port are the hub of humanity; to the south-east, hard to access from the capital Muscat other than by boat, the Musandam Peninsula's riches are in the ocean – coral reefs harbouring countless shoals of fish, turtles and whale sharks. Oman's seafaring tradesmen, pearl divers and fisherfolk may have plied their trade along this coastline for centuries, but it's still largely uninhabited – and not often visited. Go 'round the bend' and cruise along the Khor ash-Sham or Elphinstone inlet, carving a channel through cliffs that rise to over 1,000m, and the only inhabitants you'll see other than nomadic tribespeople and local villagers are mountain goats, ospreys and dolphins.
Do go/Don’t go
We love the relatively cooler months (November to April), which still promise non-stop sunshine and warm weather. To make the most of the adventures on offer, you'll want to avoid the height of summer, when daytime temperatures can reach 40ºC.
Planes If you're visiting the south-east coast, the most convenient international airport by far is Dubai in the neighbouring UAE (www.dubaiairport.com) – about 90–120 minutes away. The airport at the region's biggest city, Khasab, is served by domestic flights from Muscat (with Oman Air), but it's a tricky onward journey from here. The international airport at Muscat (Oman's capital) is at least five hours away by car, involves two border crossings and an arduous mountain drive.
Boats Many opt to travel around the peninsula like its seafaring residents – by boat. Speedboat transfers to Zighy Bay are possible from the port of Dibba on the Musandam-Fujairah border.
Automobiles Book airport transfers - far less stressful. Driving is possible, but not a great idea if you're not familiar with the region or handy with an off-road vehicle; the remoter, unpaved roads take you far from civilisation (and petrol stations). If you're hiring, get a 4x4, carry extra fuel, plenty of water, and a fully charged spare mobile. From Dubai, you'll either head north through Ras al Khaimah, or east towards Dibba across the Hajar Mountains – and the Omani border, so you'll need your passport handy (UAE residents require a pre-arranged border pass).