Oman // Sharqiya //

Masirah Island

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Oman’s largest island, remote MASIRAH remains largely off the tourist radar. Development here is muted, infrastructure basic and the whole place still sees far more turtles than tourists, offering plenty of unspoiled coastline and beaches to explore for adventurous and well-equipped travellers with time (and a 4WD) on their hands. The major attraction of a visit here is the chance to go turtle-watching, while the island’s somewhat end-of-the-world ambience may also appeal to idle beachcombers and birdwatchers. If you’ve got camping gear and a 4WD, the island’s pristine beaches offer numerous opportunities to sleep out under the stars.

Not that Masirah is entirely untouched. The northern tip of the island has already been swallowed up by industrial and military installations, while ambitious plans for the construction of a 40km bridge linking Masirah with the town of Mahut on the mainland (scheduled to open in 2014 at a cost of US$1.5 billion) are likely to massively accelerate the pace of change, assuming it actually ever gets built. For the time being, however, Masirah remains a pleasantly sleepy sort of place, bordering on comatose.

The ferry from the mainland deposits you at the small town of HILF, the only major settlement on the island and home to a trio of petrol stations, a couple of ATMs and a pharmacy, plus a modest selection of shops in the town’s small centre. There are no facilities elsewhere around the island.

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