Nothing quite beats diving when no-one else is around and it is exactly that prospect that saw me heading to the Sultanate of Oman before Christmas on a research trip (or glorified holiday!).
As you approach the hotel over the mountains you realise how remote this part of Oman is as you see nothing but pink-hued cliffs dropping into the ocean. The hotel itself couldn't be more inviting - a rustic yet luxurious hideaway; a place to really get away from it.
And beneath the waves, the sea is teaming with life. This is due to the large amount of plankton in these waters which lowers the visibility but brings more life. So much so that the week before I arrived, the elusive whale shark had been playing with the divers for two days (no such luck for me - I am sure they are avoiding me!).
Unfortunately all of the decent dive sites are about 45 minutes by fast boat from the marina as the red tide (red plankton that takes the oxygen out of the water) has damaged the reefs close by. Not to fear though as the brand new dive centre and team are well equipped to get you out to the best sites in comfort. The best thing about it? No-one around for miles - this still felt like adventure diving which is becoming more and more rare.
From the Musandam, I travelled to Muscat to try out the diving there. Again, much like the Musandam, the visibility was not great but the fish life certainly was. And a great wreck dive at Bandar Kheyran, swimming in pitch dark through the hull with just my dive buddy for company was an unforgettable experience. Unfortunately due to choppy conditions, I couldn't make it to the Daymaniyat Islands, which are the jewel in the crown of diving in Oman. I will have to save that for my next trip!
While in Muscat I stayed at the Chedi which is a stylish and beautiful hotel, very different to Zighy Bay but just as special. If you visit, just wait until nightfall when the place comes alive with fire and light the likes of which I have not come across at other hotels.
Another reason for the trip to Oman (other than a well-deserved holiday) was to check out a new trip where people can have the ultimate private diving experience from private yachts and luxury tented camps on the desert coast around Muscat. Watch this space for this unique and exclusive trip.