The landscapes of Oman are breathtakingly beautiful, but are full of surprises. One of those surprises is that Oman is a popular destination for those who love the water. Given that much of the interior of Oman is either desert or mountainous, it may not be an obvious place to consider when seeking a beach holiday. However, Oman has a spectacular coastline that is ideal for swimming, sailing, cruising and diving. The waters are unspoilt by industry, and there are some quiet remarkable, and challenging, dive spots along the coast.
Whilst Al Fahal may be its proper name, this barren piece of rock is also called Shark Island, because sharks can often be seen basking on the sand banks just offshore.
Comprised of a vivid yellow limestone, Shark Island rises steeply out of the waters, and was once part of the sea floor. A relatively small island which covers just over two square kilometres, Shark Island is made from the remains of fish and shellfish which were deposited there from 55 to 35 million years ago. It is now a protected nature reserve, so permits are required to access the island, or to scuba dive within its immediate vicinity.
The oddly-shaped island has many small bays in which can be found a variety of hard and soft corals which attract a multitude of marine creatures ranging from the grazers to the hunters. Apart from the sharks, great schools of fish can also be viewed, as can barracuda and giant rays.
There are also the remains of wrecks, which add a vibrancy to the dive sites, some deep water reefs which descend to about 40 metres, and a swim through cave, which should only be attempted by those who have much experience.
Each year they also hold an Al Fahal Island swim, for which participants are taken by boat to the island with the aim of swimming back to the mainland. Although it is considered an endurance race, some of the more competitive swimmers do vie to be first back to shore.
There are a number of dive operators who arrange trips to Shark island, and it is recommended that you go with experienced operators who know the waters and the best dive spots well.