dubai to oman

Dubai to Oman – The Epic Musandam Cruise Day Trip

Almost everyone who visits Dubai visits one or more of the neighboring Emirates, but few take the trip from Dubai to Oman. There are several routes to pick from, a popular one being Dubai to Dibba because you can take advantage of the Gulf of Oman and experience some dramatic scenery. If you are visiting Dubai, consider the Dubai to Dibba route.

dubai to oman

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Getting from Dubai to Oman via Dibba

Let’s start with this is not a trip I recommend solo. Don’t rent a car and head out. In my opinion, renting a car would be a massive mistake. Oman has one of the world’s highest death rates from traffic accidents. And, unless you’ve already got a visa for Oman, you will run into problems.  The logistics alone are a huge reason you need to book a tour of some form to take advantage of this trip.

Map of Dubai and Oman

Dubai to Oman Map

We booked this trip through our hotel concierge, although there are now many day trip options you can pick from. If you try to book this through your hotel, eyebrows will be raised. I felt that sending tourists out of the Emirates and over to Oman to spend money is not exactly a goal for the Dubai tourism industry. I had to insist they book this for us, which is not advertised locally.

If you research this route, you will get mixed opinions and views. Disregard this and go for it. If you’ve made it to Dubai, this day trip is something you will appreciate.  If you’re a thrill-seeker or like to go off the beaten path, this is all you. Or, if you are a collect a country stamp type of person, this is for you.

So, let’s get into the details:

About Oman

Oman, officially the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab country that borders The United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. The northern section of the Peninsula Coast separates the mainland and juts into the Strait of Hormuz. This region is separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates. Oman is a Muslim country, and the Musandam region is often cited as beautiful as the Norwegian Fjords.

Getting To Oman From Dubai

I assume you read my earlier advice and took it to heart. And that you are going to book a trip through a tour operator. If you don’t, good luck, and let us know how it goes!

The tours start early, and it’s a long day out. You’ll be picked up at around 7:00 am and then make the usual rounds to pick up others joining you once the bus or van is full – off across the desert to the border.

FYI – The tour will also return you to your hotel.

Tours From Dubai to Oman

Crossing the Border From Dubai To Oman

This might seem odd or funny, but this was one of the highlights for me. It’s a tad shady. First, you’ll stop before the border to inspect your papers. The tour operator on site will scan your passport, check all the details, and give you the equivalent of a day pass, not an actual visa. Ironically, you provide all your information in advance, but it’s rechecked. Not a bad thing. This ensures your ability to cross the border. From there, your bus will proceed into the line at the border.

It’s as you would imagine – sketchy. Oman police are dripping in rifles and an excess of other military weapons, ready for trouble should it occur. Once your buses arrive at the Oman border, an agent boards the bus to check that everyone’s papers are in order. It’s intimidating but exciting! They did not review every passenger’s documents, it was random, but they checked at least half of the passenger’s paperwork. And we had someone on board that was grilled in broken English about his previous travels. The Oman border control found his travels either exciting or suspicious.

We passed through with no issues and went to Dibba port, where the fun began.

Note: You cannot take any photographs while crossing the boarder

Dubai to Oman

Riding the Dhow in Oman

One of the most compelling reasons to take this tour is to ride the Dhow. A dhow is a traditional Arabic boat. The Dhow is the generic name of several traditional ships with one or more masts common to the region.

Don’t get me wrong; you can ride a dhow in Dubai, but let’s be honest – everyone who’s been to Dubai has done this. The boats are the same; however, the landscape is dramatically different. Oman has the most rugged and beautiful coastlines in the world. I’ll add they are also remote and then some.

As soon as the Dhow takes off, you start to see why people compare this landscape to Norway. One difference is the climate, Norway’s cooler, and while the water is piercing clear in Oman, it’s a Caribbean blue.

Imagine yourself relaxing on a fabulous traditional Arabic boat in the middle of nowhere, seeing the mountains of Musandam. Better imagine what this looks like when the sun sets. I caught many pictures with the Dhow in the sun’s background, and cheesy as it might sound, the views are priceless.

You’ll cruise for an hour or so, and then you will pull into a cove where you will get to explore the beach, the water, and all the other traditions you would expect from a water-based trip.

Activities on the Dhow

Here is what to expect in terms of choices of things to do:

  • Snorkel the beautiful blue water
  • Speed boat blasting
  • Banana boat riding
  • Take the speed board to the limestone (white rock) and tour inside the caves.
  • Sunbathe on the beach, or explore the beach
  • Jump or swing off the Dhow and splash into the water
  • Handline fishing

We opted to explore the beach and admire the vistas; we did the caves, and Brian tried hand-line fishing.

Mussandam Cruise Line Fishing

You get to spend about two hours at the chosen cove, and then it’s time to return to the Dhow. Back on board, you’ll be treated to a traditional lunch that’s buffet style. The food was adequate but not spectacular. Don’t expect to be wowed; it’s not a feast. Add to this that there are people with many worldwide – all with different cultural norms. Creating a line and lining up (or bum-rushing) the line will be a factor. Some people tried to jump in the queue. They were barging in as if there was not enough food for all. This concept’s not new; I’ve experienced it worldwide.  I remind all to get in line, and I’m firm enough to set the tone.

Food in hand, it’s time to lay back on the dhows cushions and take in the sunset. A quiet and calm trip; it’s not a booze cruise you would take in the Caribbean. The low key with almost all people opting for the layout.

What You Need When Visiting OmanWhat You Need to Know About A Trip From Dubai To Oman

Visas and Day Permits

  • Unless you do a day tour, you need a visa to visit Oman.
  • If you take a tour, you do not need a visa, and you will get a day pass subject to your return on the same day.
  • Before touring, you will have to provide copies of your passport, and you need six months left on the passport to enter.
  • A copy of your passport must be sent 48 hours before the trip to arrange entry.

This is important. You can’t arrange this trip the day before you need to book this at least two days (sometimes three) in advance.

General Tips For Travel From Dubai To Oman

  • Day trips from Dubai start at around $75 and go up to $500. The cost depends on the tour you pick. Essentially, the price is dominated by choosing a shared vs. private tour.
  • Tours provide everything you need except sunscreen, including snorkeling gear, life jackets, water, etc.
  • You can wear a bathing suit on the beach, other than this, be moderate.
  • You do not need currency or cash. Everything you need is provided on the boat.
  • This is a long day, at least ten hours. In our case, it was for twelve hours.
  • Non-alcoholic drinks are included, and you can buy alcohol on most tours.
  • Depending on where you dock, there is a chance the locals will be unimpressed by your arrival. We experienced this, and it was comical. A love-hate relationship was exposed before our eyes, and the locals tried to chase off the tour company.
  • Taking pictures of Arab Women is considered offensive, and before you take a local photograph, you must ask for permission.

Note: Some of the beaches have been littered by tourists. It’s sad to see and it’s the main gripe that people cite following this tour. It’s shocking to be somewhere so remote, barely inhabited and stunning yet dressed in trash. Unfortunately, this is a concept I’ve seen in several countries. If you take this tour, please do not leave any trash behind.

Dubai to Oman


Driving from Dubai to Dibba is approximately an hour and forty-five minutes.

You do not need a visa if you take a day trip. You will need a visa if you do anything other than a same-day return trip.

You can apply for a visa here.

Yes, some people do speak English, but it’s not universal.

Yes, you can, but it’s not recommended.

A 10-day tourist visa costs five to ten riyals, which is approximately $1.50 – $3.00

Yes, if you book a day trip through a travel agency.

Closing Thoughts

The typical traditional Dubai tourist rarely leaves The Emirates during their stay. This is understandable. The Middle East has a reputation for volatility, which steers many from considering branching out. I will tell you that you will be fine if you use a reputable tour company and have paperwork in order. The tour company will take great care of you and ensure you cross and return without problems.

Most important, you will have experienced something that few do. Lastly, if you get fortunate, you’ll experience the debacle between those living in the mountains, sounding the beaches, and the tour operators.

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  1. Thnx for posting! Would this trip be recommendable for a family with two little (4 and 3) children?

    1. Hi there,

      There were no kids on my trip, so I can’t say for sure, but I don’t see any reason (other than the border crossing) why kids could not take the trip. Nikki

  2. Such a nice post. This is really a trip I would make. Oman is a country, I’m dying to visit. And I’m always fascinated by border crossings.
    Besides that I have never been to Dubai, I only know the airport because of the many transfers. The dhow ride sounds like lots of fun…:-)Thanks for sharing your story.

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