Monday, December 2, 2013

Fun Diving with Extra Divers: Daymaniyat Islands

Dec 1, 2013

My logged dives #1256-1257

Leopard shark

The Daymaniyat Islands have one of the most consistently good set of dive sites in the region.  We used to see leopard sharks there every weekend we dived there. Sometimes it would be on the last of 4 dives on the weekend, but it was almost guaranteed we'd see at least one, and this prospect has got us coming back for more.  Sea conditions are also often excellent with swimming pool visibility, but sometimes not so good, and our diving this past weekend was at the mediocre end for visibility.  The sites had a cloudy brown tinge to them.

But on our second and last dive there, as we approached the Doc's Wall corner of Walid Junn, we came on an area of wall that was scattered about the sand at 13-14 meters, and the rubble there looked like it might provide just the camouflage that leopard sharks would find appealing.  I felt so positive about this that I headed off the coral and into rock-strewn terrain thinking this might be it, and saw Bobbi doing the same, drawn to this otherwise, nondescript area, for the substrate it might provide rays or leopard sharks.

And there it was, replete with two remoras and a panoply of yellow fishies like butterflies on its nose.  Characteristically docile, it tolerated my swimming alongside but was less forgiving of my moving across its bow, at which point he lifted off and almost swam into Bobbi, who finned to avoid collision. What a great way to end a day of diving in Daymaniyats.

The diving

I got this map of Western Daymaniyats from (hope it's ok to upload it here; if anyone objects, will remove it and point to its direct link:

On this day we dived the Mousetrap our first dive, easterly from Sira Island, and easterly along the back of Walid Junn the second.  Vis was disappointing though the diving was not. The poor vis prevented us from spotting creatures out to sea, but we found sting rays and big honeycomb morays in alcoves along the wall, as well as a pair of Nudibranchs.  Here's a video compilation.

The back story

National Day in UAE is upon us again.  To celebrate we went down to Oman ostensibly to take advantage of the long weekend. In actual fact, it's not much longer for us in Al Ain to reach Extra Divers at Al Sawadi Beach Resort than it is to reach Dibba and then pop across the border from UAE.  Either can be done in a day trip, though report time at Sawadi is 8 a.m. as opposed to 9 a.m. at Nomad Ocean Adventure.  Because we'd need to be on our way 4 hours earlier to reach either destination on time, we headed down to Oman on a leisurely drive the evening before to Suwaiq, where we often stay at the Suwaiq Motel (tel: 26862240).

What we had found most appealing about the Suwaiq motel is its Feliniesque juxtaposition of excess in a part of the world known for high standards of morality, but it is operating now as a shadow of its formal self.  We arrived during a band break in a place that used to have two or three loud night clubs going all at once, and when we asked about the unaccustomed silence the Indian employee showing us our room said that things had fallen off due to community reaction to a business that was causing fathers to sleep away from home and spend scarce money on beer and give the rest to the girls there so the children at home were going hungry. There were still a few dozen customers but only one Arabic singer competently manipulating an electronic synthesizer where it was hard to tell what was him and what was memorex, impressive nonetheless. Due to the new economies of lighter scale, beer prices had increased 50% and rooms were now 20 riyals, about a 20% increase from last time. Neither the bargain nor the show it once was, Suwaiq motel is still a comfortable place to sleep, more economical than the competition, only 3 hours from Al Ain, and only an hour from Al Sawadi.

And to get to Al Sawadi from Sohar, either take a left at the Musannah roundabout, the one past the double boat roundabout at Wudum, and then turn sharp right and go up the slip road 10 km further on (to the Makkah Hypermarket) where they are building new bridges over the highway, perhaps to allow you to exit the main highway to reach Al Sawadi (after having blocked the left turn off the highway to reach there directly) OR just a couple roundabouts past Suwaiq find the signs pointing to the Millenium Hotel where the cupola roundabout is (you'll recognize it) and then use the highway near the coast marked Muscat to the right.  We've come the other way on the new highway marked Sohar from Al Sawadi and come out on the road connecting from the old highway to the new coastal one, but we'll try the one to Muscat next time we're there, and it must connect with Al Sawadi.

The alternative to following these seemingly complicated directions is to proceed down Highway 1 direction Muscat, and if there is no way over the highway to allow you to go north to Al Sawadi (bridges are under construction at this writing) then you must go a further 10 km to Barkah and u-turn there direction Sohar, and re-coup your 10 km so you can exit the highway north to Al Sawadi (but from the north side of the highway this time :-)

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