Khasab (Arabic: خصب) is a city in the northwest Omani exclave of Musandam. It is the state capital of the Musandam peninsula on the coast of the Hormuz Strait between Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Khasab was isolated from the rest of the region for a long time. In the 16th century Portuguese troops conquered the peninsula and established colonial structures. After Oman regained control, Khasab was controlled tightly due to its strategic position. The construction of the new road from the United Arab Emirates was itself started by the city to develop its infrastructure and encourage more tourism and investment. It is most popular to spend a weekend off from Dubai or to visit on your way to Muscat, taking the twice a day ferry-boat along the deserted and arid rocky coast of Musandam.
The city is the starting point to explore the little-known Musandam Peninsula and its special and unique traditions and culture. Travellers can enjoy great sights in and around the city that can be seen in two or three days cruising the region.
Khasab is best visited in the winter, as it is one of the hottest places in Oman, with summer temperatures regularly climbing over 45°C. (On 27 Jun3 2011, the Airport of Khasab, a few miles inland from the coast, recorded the world calendar day highest minimum temperature of 41.2°C.)
Khasab is not easy to access, although you have a few options of transportation including daily morning flights from Muscat, a weekly ferry from Muscat or driving a rental car from the United Arab Emirates via Al Darah border post.
- 1 National Ferry Company (Muscat Ferry Boat), NFC Passenger Boarding Office Khasab (near Khasab Fort), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is ferry service to/from Muscat (5 hrs) and Dibba (2½ hrs). From Muscat, the ferry departs every Thursday at noon, and returns every Saturday at 11:30. From Dibba, ferries depart on Sundays and Thursdays (departure 13:00), and return to Dibba on Tuesdays (departure 10:00) and Thursdays (departure 12:30). All ferries have free Wi-Fi, with lunch, snacks and beverages included in the ticket price. You should get your ferry ticket in advance to ensure your place on the boat. Muscat one way: 45/23 OMR (business/tourist class); Muscat return: 85/44 OMR (business/tourist class); Dibba one way: 10 OMR (business class), 6 OMR (tourist class).
- 2 Khasab Airport (IATA: KHS) (5 km S of city center), ☎ , e-mail: (airport office), (flight information)email@example.com. Airport office: Sa-W 07:00-13:30, Th F 09:00-12:30. Oman Air has daily flights from Muscat to Khasab, lasting 45 min. During peak tourism periods, Emirates offer charter flights from Dubai. 25 OMR one way.
- Driving from United Arab Emirates (Khasab from Dubai). One can easily drive from Dubai or any other Emirate taking the northern road towards Ras al Khaimah, heading north to the Al Darah border. The road is in very good condition on the Omani side and the UAE RAK part is currently being upgraded.
- Taxi from Ras al Khaimah to Al Darah border (Taxi from Ras al Khaimah). You can easily take a taxi from Ras al Khaimah to the Al Darah border. There are no taxis on the Omani side. Many trucks pass this border daily, so ask an Omani police officer to get you a ride in one of these trucks hitchhiking all the way to Khasab. This is for very adventurous people only. 36km taxi ride on the Emirate side.
Taxis are not to be found in Khasab. You have to get your own rent-a-car in Khasab or rely on your hotel's minivan transportation, which can take you where you want.
- Walk in Khasab. You can also walk and hike around the region and in the mountains. If you're into full day treks, you can explore the city and nearby villages. During summer months, the Gulf region gets extremely and unbearably hot. Dress conservatively if entering Bedouin or remote fishing villages.
- Abdullah Masood Mohammed Al Shehi Trading Est, Muhafazath, ☎ , e-mail: , , firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-8PM.
- Bicycle in Khasab (Bicycle ride in Khasab). If by chance you're living in United Arab Emirates and are visiting Khasab taking your own car, you can bring along your bicycle and explore the city and surrounding villages at ease.
Organized minivan tours
- Khasab City Tour (City Tour). Many travel agencies in Khasab provide minivan city tours, for half or full day visits to the city, including all of Khasab's best sights and locations.
- 1 Khasab Castle (In front of the sea facing Port Authority). The Portuguese constructed this fortress in the beginning of the 17th century and occupied it until their withdrawal from the region. This castle, which housed the Wali and his family in recent centuries and once held prisoners, has been restored and transformed into a regional museum. In the courtyard of the castle are boats and houses representative of the unique heritage of Musandam. .5 OMR.
- Alkmazrh Fort. This fort is inside the city and it seems to belong to a specific tribe among the local people. The fort is taken care by the tribe's youngsters, who are proud of their ancestral possession.
- 2 Khasab Dhow Port. Just facing the Khasab Port Authority for the ferry to Muscat, the traditional port for dhow boats is a place where you can appreciate and enjoy typical boats from this region. You can easily find boats to take you on a sea cruise.
- Iranian smugglers. Khasab is known for its Iranian smugglers. From here daily hundreds of small jet boats cross the Hormuz strait heading to the southern Iranian cities of Bandar Abbas and Qeshm Island, carrying such diverse items as televisions, cigarettes, and goats in an effort to avoid Iranian import duties. Khasab is a free trade port, so the Omani authorities accept this practice, provided the activities only take place during daylight hours.
- Khasab palm groves (Old city). Hidden inside Khasab old city, you can visit and explore the beautiful palm groves. These oases are great and supply local people with some dates.
- Dhow Cruises. Dhows depart from Khasab twice a day for excursions to Telegraph Island. Currently quite a few agencies take care of this. Prices per trip start at 15 OMR if going with other people, and 30 OMR if you go alone.
- City walk by night. As the temperature is far more pleasant during the evening, you can walk around the city center along the avenue and center mosque. Also, there are a couple of gardens that are open by night, where you can see families playing with their children.
- Mountain Safari. Trips to Jebal Harim (2087 m above sea level) with 4WD vehicles are a good opportunity to see the inner area. On these trips organized by most agencies in Khasab, you can see the beautiful rocky desert mountains of Musandam. However, at the mountain top is a military radar station, so going to the top requires permission and most tours therefore stop at 1600 m above sea level near the barracks of the military station.
- Snorkeling. All of the Musandam coast has amazing waters to dive. Near Khasab there are a few diving points and zones where you can see and swim among fishes.
- Dolphin cruises. If you take one of those dhow boat excursions into Musandam beautiful coast, you'll be able to see dolphins just 10 minutes away from Khasab port.
- 1 Bassa Beach. A pleasant beach popular with locals, with picnic and toilet facilities. Free.
There are quite a few options of different supermarkets full with normal groceries, bottled water etc. LuLu Market is by far the biggest and offers the biggest variety, but small supermarkets have local products and niche products.
- 1 LuLu Hypermarket, New Souq area (harbour area), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 08:00-23:45. Largest supermarket in Musandam with huge range of products (food/non-food).
- Local Handicraft Shop, Khasab Castle (inside Khasab Castle). Many local Musandam handicraft and Omani souvenirs are for sale in the shop inside Khasab Castle. Very friendly staff.
- 2 Old Souq (north of the Persian Gulf Roundabout). The old souq is a good place to pick up hand-crafted walking sticks, the more elaborate of which are decorated with silver.
- Dates. At the tiny Sikkit market in centre town you can buy fresh dates.
- Al Shamaliyah Grill & Restaurant, Main square. Very good grill restaurant at the main square. Popular for local fish and meat dishes.
- Musandam Restaurant, ☎ . 08:00-23:00. Local meat and fish dishes in this restaurant located in center city. Expect to pay from 1 OMR to 2 OMR depending on what you eat. Some vegetarian/vegan options.
- Ice Cream (In the city center). Many supermarkets have freezers with several types of ice cream. Under the extreme heat of Musandam Peninsula, cold ice cream is very welcome. .3-.5 OMR.
- Telegraph island restaurant, Khasab Lulu Hypermarket (In the city center), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00 am to 12:00 am. Provides freshly cooked food ( grills , Indian cuisines , Arabic cuisines, tandoor , pizza's, fresh juices , fresh brewed coffee . .3-.5 OMR.
- Fruit milk shakes. Some restaurants can prepare you fruit milk shakes. These are made with real fruit and often mixed with ice cream and full pieces of fresh fruit. 1-2 OMR depending your choice.
- Black tea. All the local restaurants serve black tea. This is the traditional tea from the region. Usually nowadays, it is Lipton Black Tea.
- Alcohol. Khasab allows alcohol in restaurants/bars with a licence. These places are limited (e.g. Atana Hotel), and as the alcohol is imported, rather expensive (e.g. beer 3-4 OMR).
Khasab has just four hotels and very limited capacities for travellers. During the weekend, hotels are usually sold out. An option for one night is Bossa beach which is very popular with families and one night camping is usually accepted. Note that Bossa beach has only a toilet and no other facilities. It's directly on the road between Atana Hotel and Khasab and is very lively during the weekend. Non-UAE/Omani travellers should expect to be seen as a tourist attraction with unwanted attention from kids or youths from the area.
- 1 Esra Hotel Apartments (south of city center), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. In essence two apartment buildings for up to max. 30 people in ca. 16 rooms.
- 2 Lake Hotel, ☎ . Very basic accommodation, cash only.
- 3 Khasab Hotel, ☎ , , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 12:00. Double, triple, deluxe and family rooms. Swimming pool and restaurant. Buffet breakfast included on price. Free Internet access and airport pick-up. OMR 28+/night, more expensive on weekends and during high season.
- 4 Atana Khasab (formerly known as the Golden Tulip Hotel) (38km from Al Darah border, 5km from Khasab airport and the city center), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Sea view rooms, swimming and children pool plus play area, gym, WiFi. Licensed with an onsite restaurant. Offers free shuttle service between the hotel and anywhere in Khasab – they will also pick you up if you call. This is the default hotel for package tourists and bigger groups, and generally is completely booked at the weekend.
- ATMs (Khasab city centre has a growing number of bank branches due to trading activities). 24/7. Near the New Souk roundabout in the direction of the main square several banks operate an ATM including HSBC, Oman National Bank, and Muscat Bank for international debit and credit cards.
- Money Exchange. 24/7. You can exchange money in the city centre banks during weekdays and also on the Western Union office during weekends.
- Flying to Muscat, Khasab Airport. Flights from Khasab to Muscat go daily for a 45 min flight. You have to buy the tickets at least the day before you fly. OMR25 one way.