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Dive Review of Global Scuba/Chedi Hotel in
Oman/Damaniyat Islands

 
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Global Scuba/Chedi Hotel, Oct, 2013,

by Jeremy Cohen, IL, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 8 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 7358.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Oman is a Sultanate on the Indian Ocean,friendly to Westerners, very much worth exploring,and only a 70 minute flight from from our Doha, Qatar home.

What a thrill to dive among big schools of fish and healthy hard and soft corals for three days while staying at the Chedi, a five star beach resort, then make camp in the high mountains one night and the desert among Bedouin goat herds and camels the next.

The Damaniyat Islands, low in the water and desert-sand barren, require a 45 minute day-boat crossing from Muscat. We dove for three days. Each morning's crossing was smooth as glass. We were joined one morning by a pod of 40 or 50 spinner dolphins, several leaping into the air. Omani fisherman in small dories are a common sight. A visit to the Muscat fish market reveals a scattering of sharks and rays, cuttlefish, and octopus as well as the local delicacy, kingfish. Fishing is a centuries old family trade, but small nets, hand lines, the absence of big commercial boats and protected marine sanctuaries appear to be successful nurturing a healthy balance.

We had heard mixed reviews of Oman diving and have first hand knowledge only of our three days in October. We hit it spot on - uncrowded, warm, clear, and calm, this was easy yet rewarding diving. An abundance of very large spotted morays at rest, often with cleaner wrasse attending to their gills and open mouths. A variety of soft and hard corals - watch out for the profusion of long spiny urchins. Two sea horses, three or four inches from head to tail, sharing a red sea fan. Big shoals of small fish. Occasionally, lionfish, colorful trunk fish, scorpionfish, puffers, a sea snake or two, orange cardinalfish in the recesses of limestone overhangs, and a lovely seven or eight foot zebra shark with two blue-striped remoras lazing on the sand bottom at 81 feet. A perfect set of morning dives.

Global Scuba,the dive boat operation we chartered with, was less than perfect. On the plus side, they picked us up promptly at 7:45 at our hotel each morning. But then we waited up to 90 minutes in their offices while other divers gathered, signed in and were outfitted with weights and any gear needed. There weren't enough chairs for everyone to sit and no amenities such as coffee or juice to pass the time. Global has three boats, but one according to Keith, the owner, was being repaired after an explosion two weeks ago during a welding repair.

We dove from each of the two remaining speed boats. No heads or showers, no nitrox, no place to safely place cameras or rinse them, thin unappetizing sandwiches on white bread with a single slice of processed turkey and cheese for lunch, ladders missing wood coverings over round pipe rungs, bench seating with little cushioning and on several occasions difficulty getting the twin outboards to start up. No radio - the very capable boat drivers and dive guides had to rely on telephones to communicate.

On one early afternoon return crossing to Muscat the winds kicked up causing the boat to crest and slam hard into the trough with sufficient force that divers were grimacing and in pain. There were no secure handholds. Some of the poles holding up the canvas shade awning were rusted through. Though the tanks were made fast, nothing else was and equipment as well as backs and bones suffered a punishing ride home. Quite simply, while the diving exceeded our expectations, the boats were far below par.

Most U.S. dive travel agencies have little experience in the Middle East beyond Red Sea charters. We found Original Diving, headquartered in England, on the Web and, despite our thumbs down opinion of Global Scuba, the travel agency gets two thumbs up from my wife and me. Co-owner Neill Ghosh handed all of our arrangements with care and called us several times personally during pre-trip planning. Upon learning of our Global Scuba travails (Global nagged repeatedly that we should have booked through them instead of through a travel agency and on several occasions suggested that we should have stayed in a different hotel -- in fact, the Chedi was delightful) Neill has offered to book our next trip at "a substantial discount." He is among the best travel professionals we've worked with.

Neill tells us he is now working to find a different Muscat dive operation. His other recommendations made up for Global's shortcomings. Original Diving arranged a three day personal trip that included one night of high end camping in the mountains and another in the desert. With our local guide, Rasheed, we had a picnic at a wadi under a date palm surrounded by goats. We had coffee and fruit one afternoon with a Bedouin family in the desert. Our camps were immaculate and Rasheed and his crew provided wonderful dinners of local foods by a campfire under the stars. After living in Doha's high rise expat cocoon for a year, the inland days following our diving provided a real sense of Middle Eastern hospitality and culture. Welcoming, nature-based, and startling new to our senses and tastes. To wake among the dunes fifty kilometers into the desert with no one about other than Bedouin sheep and goat herders and wandering camels, sometimes alone, sometimes in groups of three, is something special for even the most experienced traveler. It is an introduction to the Middle East that will challenge everything you thought you knew about Islamic culture.

Oman can provide a convenient side trip for divers headed to or returning from the Maldives or the East African reefs and big game watching of Tanzania and Mozambique. Oman is a place to lose the crowds, whether diving or wandering among the ruins of centuries old villages where date palms still create green oases.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Galapagos, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Ni'ihau, Kona, Kauai, Florida, Bahamas, Socorro Islands, Sea of Cortez, N. and S. California and Channel Islands, Puget Sound, Little Cayman, Komodo and Alor, South Sulawesi, Florida, Honduras Bay Islands, Cozumel
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 83-88°F / 28-31°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30-75 Ft/ 9-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Surface within an hour with 500psi, but neither enforced.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 1 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Global has three "speed boats" in the 30-40 foot range, though one was out of service after an explosion during on-shore welding. There were no camera facilities aboard. No safe storage, no way to rinse after diving. If you bring a camera, bring your own means of protecting it.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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