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Oman - Masirah Island (Masira Island)

To get to Masirah Island from Dubai, first you need to drive 800 km to a place called Sana (or Shana/Shanna) on the Omani coast from where you catch a car ferry to Masirah Island. The route from Dubai to Masirah Island is explained on the Muscat to Asilah map page. A couple of other maps are at the end of this page.

Windsurfers setting up on Masirah Island - summer 2004 Masirah Island windsurfing - summer 2004

If you're tempted to try and drive down the coast through the Wahibah (or Wahiba) Sands from Asilyah to Sana / Masirah, it is possible but not recommended unless you are experienced in desert driving (expect similar conditions as in the Liwa Sands near Abu Dhabi) and have 3 or more vehicles travelling together. It's very soft sand and quite isolated. The off-road guide to Oman details the route you need to take.

On the highway, it's about a 8-9 hour drive from Dubai (or 4 hours from Muscat in Oman), add on a ferry crossing of 1h 30 mins and a wait of 0-3 hrs for the ferry departure. If the tide is wrong or there's little traffic, you could wait much longer - even 6 or more hours. There's no Oman departure tax at the ferry terminal, or duty free. There is a small hotel at Sana, and a couple of dodgy looking tea shops where you can buy water and crisps. Avoid the ferry toilets. The ferries are old tank landing craft which perhaps is something you didn't want to know if you haven't been to Masirah Island for the first time. Ferry did cost 150 dhs each way (including passengers) but that information was good in 2004. It may be more by the time you read this. There are competing ferry companies that leave from the same place on the mainland but different places on Masirah Island.

The ferries arrive near a small town or village called Ras Hilf or Hili depending on which signpost you look at. There's a small hotel on Masirah Island at the north end of Hilf, a couple of restaurants (chicken or mutton biryani, or shawarmas) and grocery shops. Also a petrol station, ice supplies and an ATM.

There are several places to surf on Masirah Island - swell can get bigger in the more exposed spots the further south you go. First spot to aim for is Surf Beach about 20 min east of Hilf. Drive past the old BBC relay station to the coast and follow the road south. Just after you've driven through a couple of hills, you turn left and drive down to the beach. Further south along the same beach are a couple of sharp reef breaks with reasonably long rides (bring gloves and booties for the rocks).

In the summer months the wind blows 30-40 knots almost 24/7 and on the western side of the island is a large sheltered bay with great conditions for windsurfers and kitesurfers. Often kite and wind surfers from around the world will come to Oman during this time to enjoy the high wind conditions on Masira Island.

Distance table

Set odometer to 0 at clocktower turnoff to Bid Bid / Nizwa / Sur just before Muscat. There's a large shopping center with Carrefour just before that turn off - stop there to stock up or just get food/coffee. Just after the turn off is a BP petrol station with an average bakery shop - less awkward than the shopping center and a more convenient place to meet anyone coming from Muscat.

To Sana / Shanna From Sana / Shanna
Clocktower roundabout 0 km
~435 km
Mudaybah/Al Mudaiba turnoff (Shell station on the corner - turn right just after it)
~110 km
~325 km
Sinaw/Sanaw turnoff (turn left) 
~175 km
~260 km
First Shanna/Masirah turnoff - signposted (turn left - Al Maha station on the corner)
~355 km
~80 km
Second Shanna/Masirah turnoff, wasn't signposted (turn right, small hut was on LH side of road) 
~415 km
~20 km
Shanna ferry terminal
~435 km
0 km

See these forum topics and pages for more information.

Some previous trips to Masira Island, Oman

Masirah Island background information

Masirah Island is about 60 km long and 5-15 km wide, quite rocky with a few craggy hills. From Muscat it's about 250 km and from Salalah about 600 km (there's no easy direct route if you're thinking of driving and the road to Salalah was quite rough from Masirah in 2003 but road works were in progress then ...).

There's an Omani Air Force (RAFO - Royal Air Force of Oman) base at the north end of the island which has quite a good right hander in the right conditions but there's no public access. A few expats live on the base with the occasional surfer amongst them.

During the Gulf War, Masirah Island was used as a base - Camp Justice - for American operations from Oman and there was quite a large temporary presence of Americans including the usual fast food joints (I think MacDonalds and Pizza Hut but that's from a hazy memory). Now that it's relatively quiet, you'll have to stick to shawarmas.

Masirah Island was also used as the base from which the USA launched their attempt to rescue the hostages from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 Iranian revolution.

The BBC had a relay station (British Eastern Relay Station - BERS) which closed down a few years ago.

Wildlife includes some interesting and rare seashells, and Loggerhead Turtles (also rare).

Map of Masirah and Road Map Dubai to Masirah

Resolution is not too good, but at least they give you an approximate idea where to go, and before you ask, no, sorry, I can't find the original high resolution versions any more.

Route through Oman to Shanna and Masirah Island. If you run out of road, you're heading into the Wahiba Sands back up the coast.
Map showing northern part of Masirah Island and route to Surf Beach.

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