Wildlife Special – Damaniyat Islands
The Daminiyat islands are made up of nine unpopulated small rocky islands that are about sixteen kilometres off the cost of Batinah and about a 75 minute boat ride from Muscat, Oman’s capital. Beneath the barren rocky island chain paralleling the mainland with tortuous coastlines and little coves of white sandy beaches lies the country’s only marine park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
These islands are the country’s key attraction for scuba diving. The deeper waters to the north of the islands with visibility of about 30 metres is more suited to diving while the shallower southern end with a depth of just 10 metres is outstanding for snorkelling. The underwater terrain at the northern end reflects the rugged conditions of the above ground landscape with pinnacles, small caves and jagged rocky walls.
Sites below the water to the south side of the islands are more levelled off and are covered in coral gardens. Visitors are thrilled with the site of hundreds of bottle nosed dolphins swimming in the seas around the islands while the sea below the waves teem with large pelagic fish, dense schools of small colourful varieties, moray eels and a varied collection of localized species. Encounters have been reported with leopard sharks, turtles, cuttlefish and the occasional whale shark.
The islands are also a great favourite with birdwatchers. The best times to visit is from October through to May when many migratory, resident and breeding birds are to be found. Some of the birds that visit to breed in the islands during summer include the sooty gull, roseate tern, white cheeked and bridled terns and the western reef heron. Breeding ospreys are found in winter along with many indigenous birds. Green Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles and Logger Head Turtles can be found nesting in the islands from June to September.
The environmental importance of the islands cannot be emphasized enough as they shelter several endangered avian and marine species and are the nesting site of several migratory birds and turtles.
Overlooking its own private 54 berth marina with expansive views of the Gulf of Oman and access to spectacular dive sites and gorgeous beaches, the Millennium Resort Mussanah offers some of the best facilities and amenities in the area including spacious contemporary guest rooms and a choice of serviced apartments with hi tech innovations like in-rooms media hubs, state of the art banquet and meeting facilities and food and beverage options to suit every palate. This newly opened Oman resort aims to be a prominent Muscat hotel by providing innovative services and attention to detail to suit every requirement of modern day business and leisure travellers.