Watching underwater life without getting wet

 

Bandar al Khairan continues to cement itself as one of the country’s best natural waterparks being the go-to destination for many campers, divers and underwater-activity enthusiasts.
Barely an hour drive from Muscat, people come here by the dozens to experience activities like dolphin watching, sunset tours, sports fishing, and dhow trips. It is also home to great diving and snorkelling spots where sea turtles and other rare underwater fishes frequently escape to.
While those who know how to swim will have no trouble in enjoying the underwater treasure of Al Khairan, there is still a large portion of the population who don’t do well with seawater finding it challenging not only to stay afloat but also totally inconvenienced by the saltwater.
So come into picture Searush’s semi-submarine— an attraction that once made a splash in the capital about a decade ago but vanished into oblivion. Wanting to provide a new experience for non-swimmers, the company worked hard not only to get all the necessary operational and safety permits but also make sure that the timings and programmes they offer will provide everyone with a fun, enjoyable experience.
“We wanted something different. We wanted something new. The concept of tourism is constantly evolving for many people and this is definitely something new that underwater life-loving people have to experience,” Hisham Hamood al Maskri, co-founder of Searush shared.
He added, “This semi-submarine is one of its kind in the country. It has a submerged viewing platform making the whole of Oman’s sea life your own private aquarium all in its natural setting. It’s perfect for tourists who want some fun days out, schools or families wanting time with nature and learn from the experience.”
“While the legal limit of the semi-submarine is 60, we limit our trips to accommodate 50 people. This is to make sure that there is enough space for them to enjoy the experience,” he said.
The semi-submarine is comprised of two decks; the upper deck can accommodate 30 people in its open area with comfortable seats to lounge around while the lower deck, which can also accommodate the same number at the same time, provides a view of the things underwater.
The lower deck are decorated with posters of different marine life with some basic information of their habit and characteristics.
“We retrofitted the vessel with modern things. We used top-of-the-class glass for the windows at the lower deck to guarantee that it can withstand underwater pressure and still provide a good view of what’s outside,” Hisham shared.
“The boat also comes with different amenities and equipment for underwater activities. It has its own toilets — separate for men and women. We have lifevest on board along with snorkelling and freediving equipment. We can also arrange for water activities like banana boats among others,” he said.
While the current operations only service Bandar al Khairan (guests are taken from Marina Bandar al Rowdha on a speedboat and deposited on the boat in Bandar al Khairan) in two shifts, they are looking to arranging other fun trips and considering whale shark watching in Dimaniyat Islands soon.
“Right now, we have two shifts every weekend: from 10:30 to 1:30 pm and from 3 pm to 6 pm. During Eid holiday, we will be fully operational for interested guests,” Hisham said.
Maskari said that he and his partner Karl Whelan has fully registered their firm with the Ministry of Tourism and other relevant authorities.
“All trips can be fully catered from picnics through gourmet meals through our in-house catering company. If anyone is interested in a different adventure, then this is something they definitely have to try,” he added.
For details, visit their website at www.searush.com