Today the cruise ship I am working on has stopped in Khasab, which is a city in Oman. It is known for its beautiful mountain lined coast and its record high temperatures. Also, Khasab is sometimes dubbed the ‘Norway of Arabia’ due to its Fjord’s.
Since this is what it is best known for, a group of friends and I decided to go on a Fjord cruise. This could be booked on the ship but when booked onboard, it’s usually more expensive because you are paying for the security of being back to the ship on time. As we disembarked the ship, there was a small single storey building which was the terminal. Just outside the front of this, there were men trying to attract tourists to take a cruise with them. We didn’t need to be convinced. Jack, a guy that came with us, managed to haggle the guide down to £15 each for the tour which, considering that on the ship they were charging £30, we thought was a pretty good price. Also, the trips most people were going on were on a big boat with 30 people on, but we had asked for a private boat. It was a win-win. We got our own private speed boat for half the cost. We followed our driver Desh, for a short distance to where the speed boat was and hopped in. It was a small boat with seating around the edges and a canopy over the top to protect us from the powerful sun.
We set off across the calm sea and through the fjords. We passed some of the bigger boats and watched as they looked at us with confused faces, probably wondering how we got our one boat. As we bounced through the waves, we could see thousands of jellyfish bobbing on the surface of the water and then out of nowhere three dolphins came to either side of the boat and swam with us. It was a magical moment watching them jump in and out of the water. Desh stopped the boat hoping to get a closer look at them, but as soon as the boat stopped, they swam off and played amongst themselves, and then as soon as we sped off again, they followed us. What made it even better is that the boat was just above sea level, so we were right next to them and it was so amazing to see them so close up.
After speeding along for about 20 minutes, we came to a cove with a little beach. Desh stopped the boat and told us to swim. We all looked at him as if he was crazy because as I said, the water was covered with jellyfish. He explained to us that they didn’t sting, but we were all still a bit unsure. Jack tested out Desh’s theory and stuck his hand in the water as a jellyfish floated past. We all stood up and leant over one side of the boat to watch, but the boat started to lean a little too much, so Desh told us to even out. The tentacles touched his arm, but no sting came, so we all felt a bit better after that, but were still nervous about getting in.
The dolphins reappeared and looked as if they were ready to play, so we all soon forgot about the jellyfish and jumped into the freezing water. The dolphins did swim over to us. One came right up to me and let me stroke him. He followed me as I swam towards the cove and kept rubbing up against my leg. We had taken a ball, so we started playing volleyball in the sea and to my disbelief, the dolphins began joining and tried to get the ball. They played with us for about 15 minutes and then swam off, but it was surreal to have been able to swim with wild dolphins. Ahhhhh. We all swam over to the beach, but it was hard to get out as it was so rocky. The beach wasn’t anything too special, but we all wanted to get out to warm ourselves up, because the water was so cold.
Desh sat on the boat waiting for us but never gave us a time limit which was nice. We swam back to the boat and dried off lying at the front of the boat in the sun. We set off through the fjords back towards the harbour, and the dolphins came back to swim alongside the boat. The tour was about 3 hours in total. Desh stopped off at about 5 places and asked if we wanted to swim, but we said ‘No’ because of the jellyfish but by the beach, the jellyfish weren’t so dense, and of course, the dolphins helped entice us in.
What to do
Book the trip shoreside.
As I said booking it on the ship is more expensive for the same trip. The locals know when the cruise ship is due to leave, so they will get you back with plenty of time to spare.
Ask for a private boat
Of course, you can go on a bigger boat if you want to, but none of the big boats came to the cove than we swam in because it was too shallow, so you will get a more personal experience if you get a private speed boat.
Don’t be afraid to haggle.
They expect people to haggle and don’t be afraid. You will know you have gone too low in price if they let you walk away.
What to take
Sun cream is a must.