It should have been the perfect day of doing nothing. As opposed to that, however, I was busy packing and rearranging the precious space in my car. We’re ready to go to Musandam.
After a quick delightful breakfast in Hilton’s Neptunia Resturant, three of us took different courses, two families went for swimming (again) and me and my families went for a brief driving around Fujairah and to Khor Kalba.
First, we managed to visit Ain Al Madhab Garden (unfortunately still closed when we’re there at 9 AM), for we’re curious missed it yesterday. Ain al Madhab Gardens, also called the National Park, is a mineral spa with chalet accommodation on the western edge of the town. It is an extensive park with playground and a heritage village around the ruins of an old fort.
Ain Al Madhab Hot Spring coordinate: 25 08’26.41″N 56 18’59.01″E
We were then measuring Fujairah corniche street up to Khor Kalba roundabout where we stopped for a while for ripped date picking and photo stop. Along the way, old fish market, small fort, old mosque, fishing village, beautiful datepalm-fringed corniche, and mangrove captured in our Sony Handycam XR-500E. it is said that on Friday afternoons during winter, crowds gather between the Hilton Hotel and the Khor Kalba area to watch ‘bull butting’.
Kalba mosque (see picture above) coordinate: 25 03’27.91″N 56 21’38.87″E
Entrance to Mangrove area coordinate: 25 00’53.73″N 56 21’37.83″E
Other nearby town is Masafi, which we have passed on the arriving day from Al Ain. Masafi (Arabic for “pure water” ) is famous of its weather as the highest living area in the UAE also famous of its mango trees and various citruses. The village is known for its natural springs and the name of the Persian Gulf’s leading water producer.
At about 11 AM all three families of us started driving northwardly to Musandam, Norway of the Arabia. First closest town is Khor Fakkan.
Khor Fakkan is part of the emirate of Sharjah and is situated at halfway down the east coast between Dibba and Fujairah the foot of the Hajar Mountains. It is a popular and charming town, set in a bay and flanked on either side by two headlands, hence its alternative name ‘Creek of the Two Jaws’ (source: Weekendbreak Oman & UAE). It is a preferred place for weekend breaks and day trips and has attractive dive and fishing sites, waterfront and beach. The iconic 70s-style Oceanic Hotel is a popular pick, and and above it the Ruler of Sharjah’s Palace is noticeable high up on the hilltop.
Oceanic Hotel coordinate: 25 22’17.48″N 56 20’55.88″E
Enclave within Exclave – Nahwa
Before reaching Khor Fakkan, you might want to take a short detour to Nahwa. (we did not do it though). Nahwa is an enclave within the Omani territory of Madha, itself an exclave of Oman. To reach the village of Nahwa, take the northernmost road into the Madha enclave south of Khor Fakkan and follow the signs to New Madha. From New Madha there is a paved but winding road (about 5 km) leading to Nahwa.
Wadi Al Wurayya Waterfall
Wadi Al Wurayya Waterfall coordinate: 25 23’44.95″N 56 16’10.12″E (approximate area)
Drive about 5km pass Khor Fakkan Beach and turn left for Wadi Wurayyah Waterfall. It is said that 4×4 vehicle is required. Drive about 10 km from turn off. Wurraya has a main pool [3 to 4m deep] and the 2.5m high waterfall that feeds it, that full of fresh water all year round. However, it is reported that the area was in an awful condition with a disappointing amount of litter and graffiti covering the rocks all around the pool.
Sandy Beach & Snoopy Island
Coordinates: 25 29’20.73″N 56 21’36.71E (Sandy Beach), 25 29’32.09″N 56 21’50.33″E (Snoopy Island)
Not far from Bidiya Mosque to the north is Sandy Beach Hotel and nearby Snoopy Island. A reference says that you can swim to reach the island and have a great snorkeling there. These sites are located at the town of Aqah, also home to up class hotels such as Le Meridien, Miramar, and Fujairah Rotana.
Dibba is located 60 km from Fujairah at the northeastern tip of the UAE/Oman peninsula on the Gulf of Oman. Dibba, is sometimes spelled Diba or Daba. You might be surprised that Dibba is actually divided into three parts. One division for Oman and two divisions for UAE: Dibba Al-Fujairah, ruled by the Emirate of Fujairah, UAE , Dibba Al-Hisn, ruled by the Emirate of Sharjah, UAE , and Dibba Al-Baya, ruled by the Governorate of Musandam, Oman.
Dibba would be a good choice for sea goers, where you can enjoy the sunny beaches (considered on of the best of UAE) or water sports activities. Even more you can make a boat trip to one of many islands that lay in the Gulf of Oman for fishing or diving.
Jars Roundabout in Dibba: 25 36’06.66″N 56 18’23.15″E
Lantern Rounabout in Dibba: 25 35’16.80″N 56 16’10.12″E
Road to Musandam
Passing Dibba, we continued driving to Musandam, taking Road E87 to Ras Al Khaimah (turn right at cement factory 7.6km after Dibba’s Dolphin R/A ).The road is a dual carriageway. 30km later we made a right turn to Road E18. Please be aware that some road portions within E18 are not in good condition, owing to heavy big trucks traffic. We made a quick stop at Khatt Springs, 5 km off Road E18. Khatt Springs is a spa and hot natural springs with nearby Khatt Springs Hotel at the hilltop.
Dibba – Masafi (road E99, E87) intersection coordinate: 25 32’37.95″N 56 13’56.93″E
Khatt Springs coordinate: 25 32’37.95″N 56 13’56.93″E
On the Road E18, there is a right turn off (from Lantern R/A) to Wadi Bih. Wadi Bih is described as the UAE’s answer to Grand Canyon. From Wadi Bih, one can access Khasab at Musandam Peninsula, passing through Jebel Harim, the highest peak of 2087m, via winding roads, hairpin bend, yet offering stunning views of rocky mountains and canyons. Unfortunately, there is a hearsay that the border posts are closed for foreigner. So better check that prior to departure.
Road E18 is ended at Shams, just 3.5km before UAE/Oman Border Checkpoints. After this point, the road is a single carriageway all the way to Khasab, Musandam. The road is of surprising quality after the shocking paved road of Ras Al Khaimah. It is clean, new, and quiet. We feel as if it were built only for us. The road, that has only been built within the last ten years, snakes round the edge of the cliffs, carved out of the base of the mountains or built on reclaimed land, owing to absence of flat land. It is like long drive, despite only 40 km. We must have been driving slowly for taking that distance in more than half an hour. Nevertheless, the drive is a breathtaking one with steep climb or surprising bends. I can’t help stealing my steering view for spectacular vistas.
UAE border at Al Dara coordinate: 26 02’52.84″N 56 05’13.29″E
Parking garden (see above) coordinate: 26 14’10.28″N 56 11’43.68″E (about 13.5km from Golden Tulip Resort)
On the last 6 km to the Golden Tulip Hotel Resort we could see one. Yet, that only 1 km of direct distance must be travelled for 6km due to winding roads snaked around the cliffs above the bay.
A room with a view
Golden Tulip Hotel Resort is perched on the cliff face a few miles short of Khasab. It is quiet, and feels empty. However, as we explored Khasab later on we found that this hotel is above par than any available hotels downtown.
We had a quick check-in welcomed with humble smiles and services of Omani characters. Rushed into the room on the fourth floor, we examined to find it a good enough for stay. What’s more, as we opened the window and stepped out of the room to a private balcony, a chain of rugged rocky mountains plunged into the sea, clear sea water and silvery sunrays merging into one bravura view right in front of my eyes. What a room with a view! Subhanallah!
Golden Tulip Resort coordinate: 26 12’48.69″N 56 14’01.59″E