Discovering Oman’s underwater charm by snorkeling

Swati Basu Das –
axisswati@gmail.com –
More of a meditation and less of a physical sport, snorkeling is all about staying relaxed in calm waters and shallow reefs which ranges from three to 13 feet in depth. Jumping off the boat can be daunting especially with all the dangers lurking underwater but all the dangers can be prevented with the right knowledge and techniques
A paradise for those loving water activities, Oman never fails even for its underwater charm. And to see the beauty beneath the waters, snorkeling is the best activity to engage with if one feels that scuba diving gears are difficult to handle.
Most of the snorkel-friendly waters are situated amidst the country’s dramatic, mountainous coastlines. These waters are home to eye-popping underwater corals — a garden of them. These gardens are home to fishes like parrot fish, wrasses, and striped sergeant fish. On a good snorkel day, one can also encounter the friendly clown fish or even a thrilling swim with rays, leopard sharks and cuttlefish.
To find this snorkel-friendly waters, one will have to travel. It can be short or long, but even the remote sites — those promising turquoise blue and aquamarine waters are often located in remote sites but their pristine settings will definitely allure you.
“I have swum and snorkel in places like Mauritius, Hawaii and even in Malindi in Kenya, but none has that charm that makes one revisit the site for snorkeling,” says Dr. Rajendra Sanghavi, senior instructor at Al Alawi Swimming Academy.
“These places don’t offer the charm of local sites like Damaniyat, Bandar Al Khairan and Ras Al Hamra. These locations are like heaven and they offer the best scenes I have seen. Those that I’ve seen had me floating in these waters on almost every visit,” he added.
“Snorkeling is the activity best recommended to enjoy and adore Oman’s beauty underwater. If done right under the guidance of knowledgeable instructors, it can be a fun-filled experience,” shared Yahya, a diving instructor associated with couple of sea tour operators.
“Some of the dangers posed by the being on water is the current. Some beaches have strong currents. It’s always safe to be with a buddy or two so as to maximise the fun and minimise the risk factors. Knowing your beach is more important than just jumping in knowing that you can swim across the current. You are communing with mother nature and it should always be respected,” he added.
“Snorkeling as an activity requires few basic techniques and a person in order to enjoy the underwater environment needs is to be a confident swimmer. An ability to swim 100 metres in sea with confidence is all it takes,” Dr Sanghavi said.
Oman waters, aside from being the habitat of green turtles traveling from as far as the other continents of the globe, had been attracting many snorkelers to investigate the country’s underwater treasures. Some researchers suggest that people also get attracted to the coastal stretches of the Sultanate due to the richness of planktons.
“Bioluminiscent phytoplanktons and the zoo planktons are commonly found in Oman waters. The rich arrays of these planktons give away mesmeric visuals in the dark. In some periods of the year, if one is lucky enough, one will have a visual feast just watching the glowing waves and sparkling waters. These are breathtaking at night,” shared Dr Charlotte Best, phytoplankton Specialist at Five Oceans Environment Services LLC.
“It is the common feature of the waters here and it is what makes the sea more fertile and rich for underwater creatures,” she added.

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