Khasab Diving

The Ladnig Craft

Depth: 10m

Difficality: Advanced

A sheltered site that offers divers a chance to practise their wreck penetration skills.

Th is was a landing craft that specialised in carrying water to the vil lages that weren't able to receive water by road. The vessel was one of a fleet of three boats, each named after one of the vil lages they frequented with their essential load. The hull ofThe Musandam split with age, and it was decided that the vessel wou ld be decommiss ioned. There was also a light aircraft that had been at Khasab Ai rport for about two years and the decision was made to load the plane onto the landing craft and take them out to sea to be sunk.

Marine life

As the wreck has been here for several years, you'll see many shells and a va riety of hard cora ls on it; primarily brain and stag horn corals encrusted around anythin g they can fin d, such as th e wreck's surfaces, along ropes, and clinging to the metal. .. As Khasab isn't dived as much as other UAE sites, the fish appear to be quite unconcerned about divers and will swim almost into your face and regulator. Yellow snappers are always in abundance, especially in and around the landing ramp area. You're also likely to spot a couple of clownfish and anemone colonies

BU RASHID

Depth: 6-40m+

One of the larger islands in the Strait of Hormuz. The steep rocky cl iffs drop down to a coral-covered shelf at 6m and continue on down to a wide shelf at 25 to 30m before dropping on to the shelving sand at 40m. On the north side is a wreck of a smalllibreglass boat, and several species of shark are regularly seen here. The eas tern side is a ca rpet of soft coral, descending all the way to the sea floor. Best dived on slack tides due to the power of th e current

ENNERDALE ROCK

Depth: 16-50m+

This spectacular site is named after a bulk ca rrier that sank upon striking the rock. The rock, which is quite difficult to lind - and to dive- is located in the main shipping channel where the currents can be fea rsome, but the experience is well worth the effort. The rock peak rises very steeply from the deep to a sharp point at 16m below the surface. We use a grappling hook on a shot line to get down to the rock, which glows out of the dark greenish-blue as you dive towards it. The first things you'll see are the huge pelagics such as trevally and jacks that patrol the rock, and then myriad bright corals. The fish here are completely unafra id of divers and allow you to get very close. Remember not to try and touch any marine life, and keep your bea rings at all times in th e strong current.

FANAKU ISLAND

Depth: 6-50m+

Fanaku Island is the middle of three islands in the centre of the Strait of Hormuz. It consists of sparsely covered rock walls that descend in terraces on the eastern side, and on the western side there are lovely areas with vibrant coloured soft corals. The currents can be very strong here and the island doesn't offer any shel ter. Til is means that only the smallest and strongest of marine growth survives. This is shark, jack and tuna territory and they can be seen on most dives. Zebra sharks are common here between March and October.

GREAT QUION ISLAND

Depth: 16-50m+

The largest of th ree islands, Great Quion offers protection from currents. The island's west side consists of gradually shelving rock, coral and sand. From the northern point of the island, a submerged and narrow rocky ridge runs north east about 20m below the surface. Extending to 900m, this ridge drops very steeply to the west and is a hunting ground for sharks, trevally and jacks. On the south eastern side, an underwater ridge runs in a southerly direction from 11m down to 30m+. Zebra sharks, rays, barracuda, trevally, milkfish and beautiful soft cora ls proliferate. Thi s site may only be attempted by divers with extensive drift diving experience and those who are proficient in SMB deployment.

HARD ROCK CAFE

Depth: 6-20m+

This rock pinnacle has a sha llow side of large cora l-covered boulders and patches of sand. Easiest is to start at the rock and swim back to the coast. You'll see huge shoals of reef fi sh, lots of cora l and rays and sharks. If you start from the east side, following the wal l and patch of sand, you'll find the wreck of a dhow. Following the wall further can take you very deep and you should not proceed unless you're trained in technica l diving. This colourful site is good for snorkel ling, too.

JAZIRAT AL KHAYL

Depth: 16-40m+

The deeper north side of this island is dived from the headland in the east into the bays, and along the north west headland. Steep cliffs and rock scree run sharply down into the sea to a coral covered shelf 6m deep. The boulder and coral slope steps down to a wide shelf at 25 to 30m, then drops on to the shelving sand at 40m. You'll see lots of reef fish here and perhaps even the occasional shark.

JAZIRAT HAMRA & JAZIRAT SAWDA

Depth: 6-30m+

Jazirat Hamra (Red Island) and Jazirat Sawda (Black Island) lie inside the sheltered bay of Dawhat Ash Shisah (Sheesa Bay). A shallow shelving coral reef dotted with boulders surrounds both islands. The reef runs out into sand at a depth of 20m. Both si tes teem with reef fish. Of the two sides, the east is dived more regularly. It's very popular for Discover Scuba Diving experiences and a great anchorage for an overnight safari, as there's a lovely little beach to have a bonfire or a barbecue

JAZIRAT MUSANDAM EAST HEAD

Depth: 6-50m+

When the cu rrents are strong and the sea is a little rough, this headland and bay offer calm water and superb diving. At the point of the headland to the east, the cliff wall drops straight down to a depth of SOm. If you follow this wall into the northern bay, it gradua lly becomes a very pretty gentle coral garden slope, where a frenzy of reef fish feed. Sharks and schools of eagle rays may be seen rounding the headland. Technical divers drop to SOm where you can see tiger and lemon sharks, as well as the occasional hammerhead.

KACHALU ISLAND

Depth: 6-40m+

A popular site, but with strong downward currents, so you should only dive with a guide who knows the site well. The island's rock walls drop straight down to a shelf at Sm, then descend in steep steps to more than SOm. One cave extends through the island and is nicknamed the 'washing machine' - for obvious reasons! The walls are characteri sed by gullies, holes and small shelves filled wi th hard and soft cora ls. There are large shoals of fish, plus rays, barracuda and sometimes, whale sharks.

MUSHROOM ROCK

Depth: 5-25m

Inside Sheesa Bay between Red and Black Islands, the reef is flat-topped with sloping walls and an underwater ridge on the eastern side. There's an abundance of marine life includ ing: fusiliers, barracuda, jacks, parrot fish, kingfish, stingrays, scorpionfish, batfish, damselfish and honeycomb eels. It's best dived on a slack higl-, tide dtJP ta the current. You'l l need a GPS or landmark triangulation to find it.

RAS ALULL

Depth: 5-25m

Also inside Sheesa Bay, th is is a sloping wall full of soft corals with barracuda, eag le rays, porcupinefish, jacks, stingrays, turtles, and sometimes leopard and white tip sharks. Enter at 4m, grad ually descending to the corner, but be aware of current. There are some great coral pinnacles in the area too.

RAS AROUS

Depth: 5-25m

Ras Arous is also inside Sheesa Bay and comprises a beautiful slope with lots of soft corals. This area is simi lar to Ras Alull wi th lots of fusi liers, jacks, st ingrays, turtles and eagle rays. It's a sheltered site and so is suitable for al l levels of experience. If you've been diving elsewhere in the vicinity this makes for an excellent third dive of the day, or night dive if on an overn ight sa fari. It is a sheltered site and the colou rful cora ls give you the impression of diving in a garden. It 's more of a macro dive with lots of small critters to be found. Visibility is usually between five and 15m.

RAS KHAYSAH SOUTH

Depth: 10-35m

This narrow rock promontory juts out into the sea for more than a kilometre, and lies diagonally across north and south running currents. If the current is strong on one side it is sheltered on the other (see Ras Kaysah North) It's best dived on a low tide, 200 to 300m from the point, and you start in about 16m of water. The terrain consists of cliff walls, boulders and cora l at about 30m. You'll see sunfish, whale sharks, eels, wrasse, parrotfish, tuna and big-eye treval ly. Drop in with your left shoulder to the reef and dive towards the eastern point. There is a sump in the middle of the dive; be careful here as the current creates a whirlpool effect.

RAS KHAYSAH NORTH

Depth: 20-25m

The flipside of Ras Khaysah South, Ras Khaysah North is at the entry into Sheesa Bay. You'll find a gently sloping decorative coral wal l, which descends down to a sandy bottom. Marine residents here include: cow ta il rays, whip gobies, parrotfish, lionfish, snapper and angelfish. At the deepest point, around the headland, you can find rays, and trevally hunting in the current This site covers a large area, and it's sheltered, so it's a great option for diving when the currents are strong elsewhere. It's in shade in the morning, and well-lit by the afternoon.

RAS MUSANDAM

Depth: 6-50m+

This dive site is on the northernmost point of Jazirat Musandam, which is one of the largest islands in the area. The northern coast features high sheer cliffs that drop straight down into the sea to a narrow ledge at 6m, and then down to a wider shelf at 25 to 30m before reaching the shelving sand at SOm. Strong up and down currents make for an excellent drift dive for experienced divers. Sharks, dolphins, whale sharks, eag le rays, devil rays, giant trevallies and king barracudas are seen here. Enter from the south east and you can go with the current and swim along the reef which will be on your left side.

RAS QABR AL HINDI

Depth: 6-30m+

This dive site extends from the easterly point of the peninsula, where the rocky bottom slopes down to the sand at 30m, to the south. The area is a ca rpet of velvety coral with the occasional rock or boulder sticking out. It's a stunning underwater garden, and it 's worth sea rching the crevices to find smaller marine life hiding away. Further south, the cora l is not as abundant and the slope down to the sand is more gradual, with patches of sand starting at 10 m. Rays and white tip reef sharks are often seen cruising around here.

RUQQ SUWAYK

Depth: 6-50m+

This seamount or submarine mountain can be seen just below the surface of the water at 6m. The top of the mount is Aat and covered with soft corals. Several gul lies cut into the top of the rock and the sides step down in terraces to a depth of over SOm. On the west side of the mount, you'll find a trail of debris, consisting of cargo (including calcu lators) from a wrecked dhow that lies at 40m. Severa l types of shark can be seen here gliding up out of the depths or just circl ing the seamount.

WHITE ROCK

Depth: 6-50m+

White Rock is a small island SOOm to the north east of the Ras Khaysah promontory. The rocky sides of the island drop steeply down to depths of more than 5Om. It's a small island and can easily be ci rcumnavigated in a dive, and snorkellers wi ll enjoy it too. The sides are characterised by small shelves and fissures. Patches of coral nestle in these clefts and cracks and the smaller marine creatures cling to the shelter they find here. There are always large shoals of fish patro lling the island's outer boundaries. There's more marine life on the northern sides as opposed to the south side. This is a great site to dive if you have access to a DPV (Diver Propulsion Vehicle).