MASIRAH ISLAND: A camper’s paradise just waiting to be discovered

Some residents of Masirah believe that the same winds that visited Khareef in Dhofar are the very same winds that gifted their island with its strong, powerful, cold wind ideal for windsurfing and kiteboarding.
Adrenaline junkies especially those who love kitesurfing flock here by the dozens competing for space with hobbyist fishermen and campers who find the island an ideal spot for weekend escapes.

Depending on who you ask, they have their unique perspective about the island. Some will say there is nothing there except for endless beaches you will not be able to enjoy if you hate water activities while others argue that it’s a paradise just waiting to be discovered.
Popular online travel sites list top activities to include turtle watching, visiting a 300-year old gravesite, hiking the tallest mountain of the island, and driving around finding remote beaches seldom visited by humans.
Most of the beaches are beautiful, white and powdery at some spots and teeming with shells and sea life on others. Some are dotted by big blocks of stones, sometimes jagged and rough, while others are pebbly and filled with ocean foam except maybe during low tide hours.
The whole of Masirah is a fisherman’s dream. Barastis, the simple palm frond shacks, litter several of the popular beach areas.
From the sky, one will see turquoise to deep blue seawater surrounding the whole island. All business establishments can only be found surrounding the port area while the rest of the island is business-less, house-less and car less. This is a blessing for those who love their privacy and a challenge for those who want everything they need within their reach.

“Maldives of the Middle East?”
Local travel enthusiast and owner of Oman Outdoor Adventure interest group Ahmed al Jaabri shared that he has been to the island twice. The recent trip just this weekend the weekend was his third.
“Without a doubt, Masirah has a huge potential to become the Maldives of the Middle East,” he said upon reaching Masirah’s shores through one of the ferries that picks and drops of from Shanna Port.
“The beaches here are ideal for camping. While it’s still about 40 degrees in Muscat, in Masirah, the temperature can play between 22 degrees to 28 degrees Celsius. The locations are beautiful, and they can use more improvements,” he said.
“I talked to one of the residents who had been living here for the last 20 years. All the buildings we see today, the majority of the construction materials were imported into the island from the mainland. Building something even a simple house can mean spending a lot of money,” he said.
“That’s why it’s understandable that it has maintained its pristine condition. I particularly like the fact that there’s not a lot of people here. There’s plenty of beaches to explore and enjoy,” he said.
Ahmed, however, wants to remind travellers about a few things when roaming around the island.
“A lot of visitors come to the island without proper information on what they can find here. Most of the business establishments can only be found near the port. The whole island can take about four to five hours to drive around, and this accumulation of business establishments in one location can be a challenge,” he said.
“Make sure you bring enough provisions. If you are planning to stay for two or three days of camping. Make sure that your food supply last that long. You have an option though of buying freshly caught seafood from the fishermen if you are lucky to find them on the shores,” he said.

A haven of different
water activities
Ferries are the best mode of transport to get to the island. It’s not surprising that daily trips include boats, jetskis and other water activity toys being transported almost weekly.
As of today, kiteboarding has almost become a year-long activity for tourists as kiteboarding enthusiasts said that the island enjoys a steady 20 to 45 knots of wind happening almost day and night.
For those who wanted to avoid the inconvenience of planning a trip, local travel agencies are arranging different fun trips that look after daily activities and adventures, even deep-sea fishing.
“Taking care of Masirah is everyone’s job. I hope more people will come to experience its beauty but be responsible travellers as well by making sure that they dispose of their garbage properly,” Al Jaabri said.
For first time visitor Amirah Sol and her friends, the recent long holiday was worth spending time in Masirah.
“It’s a long drive from Muscat. From Muscat to Shanna Port, that takes about six hours. From Shanna to Masirah Port, that’s almost an hour or two, but it’s definitely worth the trip,” she said.
“The seafood is really delicious. It’s something you can’t find every day, freshly caught and well-cooked,” she said.

How to go there:
For this trip, we took the Coastal route via Sur to Al Ashkarah up to Shanna Port. But you can also take the Route 32 through Sinaw (drive time can be between 4 to 5 hours for both routes.)
From Shanna Port, you can take the ferry (either through NFC or the older operating ferries) that will take you to Masirah. Fees can vary so better check online first for the update fees.

Photos by AHMED AL JAABRI