The Musandam Peninsula is in Northern Oman
Musandam is on the Strait of Hormuz, separated from the rest of Oman by the east coastline of the United Arab Emirates. It also includes the exclave Madha which is completely enclosed by the United Arab Emirates, inside of which is a truly tiny exclave called Nahwa that is part of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
The mountains have housed extremely isolated communities for centuries and many coastal villages can only be reached by boat. The population of approximately 29,000 is concentrated in the capital Khasab in the north, and the small port town of Dibba on the east coast.
Traditionally, there has been a lot of smuggling of contraband by Iranians in and out of Musandam.
Road access is possible from Ras Al Khaymah on the West coast of the United Arab Emirates, Fujairah (Limted to GCC Nationals), and Dibba, Sharjah on the East Coast. For non-GCC Nationals, it isn't possible to get between these border crossings through Musandam by vehicle.
An entry visa is required if you are entering from the United Arab Emirates at Ras Al Khaymah. The fee, as of April 2016, is OMR 5 and valid for one week (according to border official). Keep in mind that an exit visa fee must also be paid on the UAE side, ~33 dirhams (also as of April 2016). If you are traveling by private vehicle, Omani insurance is a must (border officials will check before allowing access). This can be purchased at the border for 170 dirhams/OMR 17 (also as of April 2016, with a sedan). THIS MUST BE PAID IN CASH (entry/exist fees may be paid in credit).
The UAE exit procedure requires explicit permission of vehicular usage via a letter. This can be obtained from a car rental company, which will also attach the car registration/vehicle license (paperwork also required at the border for exiting the UAE and obtaining auto insurance). Thus, one MUST notify the rental company of entering Oman ahead of time to receive this letter. However, rental companies will charge an exorbitant fee that will likely surpass the rental fees itself to allow their car to go into Oman (Europcar charges an extra 350 dirhams). Although there are rumors that some border officials may skate the process for vehicular permission (or Omani insurance), it is best not to risk it as they will refuse access to Oman if they ask for this paperwork and you do not have it. As a result, a weekend trip to Musandam can actually be quite costly. For the border fees and car rental alone, it can cost ~ 8-900 dirhams.
The emigration offices on both sides of the border are unorganized and slow. It can take up to 4 hours to gain entry (during holiday season in United Arab Emirates). Even if entering at off-peak hours with nobody else around, the process can be ~ 1 hour, from the exiting UAE process, obtaining an entry visa into Oman, purchasing auto insurance, and final vehicular check.
If you are entering through Dibba on the East Coast, you cross a small border post situated along the coast. There is another border further inland which is only open to Omani residents/nationals. As this is more a checkpoint than an official border it is not possible to obtain an Omani visa here. However, if you are in the UAE on a UAE tourist visa (issued upon arrival or not), this will be valid to cross the border as long as it is valid for your entire duration of stay in Dibba. There is no fee to cross the border. For UAE nationals the crossing is also very straightforward. For those who have a UAE residency visa matters are a bit more complicated: you need to obtain a border permit for which you need a sponsor. If you book a stay with one of the hotels in Dibba, or a dhowcruise, your tour operator or hotel can arrange this for you. It just takes some time to arrange (give or take 2 days) so last-minute bookings can be difficult.
Reports on visa requirements are contradictory and may vary between Tibat and Dibba border crossings. As of April 2016, UAE residency visa holders were able to obtain a visa on arrival at the Tibat crossing without any Omani sponsors or hotel reservations (Dutch, Ukrainian and Russian passports - may differ for other nationalities).
Tarmac roads allow easy access up the west coast to Khasab, and 2 separate tarmac road networks exist on the east coast, one connecting with the United Arab Emirates at Dibba, and one isolated at Lima. Tracks link up the 3 border points connecting to the United Arab Emirates. However a military base in Wadi Bih, in the centre of Musandam prevents none GCC nationals from passing in any direction. The base sits on a T-junction with routes going in each direction, to the 3 border points.
On the West Coast passports are stamped, however on the east coast they are not. Therefore if this Militry base is avoided, when travelling on foot in the mountains (challenging), then an exit stamp is either missing in your passport (Entering west coast; exiting east coast), or not given because of no entry stamp (Entering east coast; exiting west coast), and you will be turned around. To add to this, additional problems can occur if the West Coast route is crossed on a passport, with United Arab Emirate residential visa applications in process and they will be cancelled. Therefore the majority of the arid mountainous country can be visited from the Khasab side, but will involve a turning back. A smaller arid mountainous area, although more popular, is accessed from the east coast.
There are no fuel stations off the tarmac roads, therefore monitoring fuel levels, among other things, is vital.
There is a ferry from Khasab to Muscat (Oman) and another ferry service that links Khasab, Lima and Dibba, although the latter stop is temporarily suspended due to dredging works in the harbour of Dibba.
Barren mountains that rise up to 2,000 metres or 6,500 feet above sea level jut out like fingers into the sea, creating countless fjord-like inlets and yield spectacular views.
Musandam offers both spectacular sea and mountain views.
Due to the sparse population of the Musandam Peninsula coast, wildlife is abundant in the waters along the coast. Scuba diving is one of the main and most popular tourist activities in this region, with a very competent dive center based at the Golden Tulip Hotel located immediately to the west of Khasab, as well as dive centers operating out of Dibba on the East Coast.
Although the mountains may seem quite barren, the real life of Musandam is underwater. Scuba diving in Musandam is some of the best of the area, and certainly better than from the UAE, although the UAE east coast also offers some nice dive sites. Most sites are along walls/slopes ranging from shallow depths to well over 40m. Due to their topography most sites are diveable for divers of all levels, but currents can sometimes be strong. Visibility is generally better than in the Persian Gulf, averaging around 10-12m but on a good day can be well over 20m. There is a huge diversity in marine life, from big pelagics such as the (rare) whale shark, devil- & eagle rays to the tiny things: seahorses, nudibranch and several species of shrimp can be found. On the reef it is very common to spot barracuda, lionfish, scorpionfish as well as many tropical reef fishes. Some of the top dive sites are Lima Rock, Octopus Rock, Ras Marovi, Temple Rock/Hard Rock Cafe, Umm al Fayyarin, and the islands at the northern tip of the peninsula, although these are for more advanced divers only.
Snorkelling can be good in the area as well and many dive operators happily take snorkellers on board.
With LuLu Hypermarket, a tourist's life in Khasab is very easy.
In Dibba on the East Coast there are not many options, apart from the two hotels in town. In the port there is a small cafetaria offering local food, and a supermarket to stock up on snacks and (non-alcoholic) drinks.