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“Indifference rules the waves”
Review of Extra Divers Sawadi - CLOSED

Extra Divers Sawadi
Reviewed 26 June 2013

For snorkellers, Extra Divers (Al Sawadi Beach, Oman) would be more appropriately named Divers' Extras. As a snorkeller (in my experience of one trip in June 2013), you're very much an afterthought, and a bit of top-up income. The overall approach of Extra Divers falls somewhere between laid-back and lackadaisical. No-one confirmed our booking, no-one told us the road signs had been removed hence a late and stressed arrival (although the boat then left late for the Damaniyat Islands). On board were some dozen people, two-thirds snorkellers. Hired kit was dished out on check in, although there was no kit 'check' as such, as you would expect with an activity where functioning kit is important (in my case it wasn't of the best quality - my snorkel fell apart on entry and my mask leaked consistently). There was no briefing on the day, no instruction in either kit or snorkelling - nor on safety. On arrival at the first island, and what would have been a good snorkel site in flat calm and with boat support, there was a significant swell (for the casual snorkeller at least...) and current. It was enough to give sea-sickness on the boat, so six snorkellers got into the water, around 30ft deep I would guess. The boat's priority was very much to get the divers in the water however, at a different site. They just wanted the snorkellers to sort themselves out. My kit wasn't working so I swam back to the (fumey...two engines...) back of the boat to try to get sorted. I and others got minor scratches and bumps from the boat at this stage. Instead of the crew helping at all, we were asked to move. The crew then surprised us by taking the boat to the end of the island (100 metres plus away) to drop the divers. The snorkellers meanwhile bobbed around unattended in the deep, choppy water, unable to snorkel effectively (it would have been too easy to get separated). The boat crew had indicated a distress signal we should use in case of problems (although for it to work someone would have had to be watching the group of course). One person was panicking - quite understandable in the circumstances for anything less than a strong swimmer - so her partner waved the signal to the boat....only to see it disappear completely out of sight, round behind the island, for at least a minute or two. Very poor practice. When they finally returned all snorkellers re-boarded, and the crew suggested heading across to a very nearby sheltered island with calm conditions and a small beach, although no shelter at all (it was late morning and seriously hot).They probably should have suggested this at the beginning, and the first site as an option for afterwards. They dropped the snorkellers in the shallow water, and then (by agreement) went away...to sort out the divers, of course. The boat left for some time, then came back and rested in the bay. The day improved, and the snorkelling was OK (not unmissable), although in my case the poor hired kit largely spoilt the experience (at least half the time was spent trying to get it not to leak). However, we had an OK time. When the boat was there we could board to get out of the sun, and have a snack - although the drinks (water) and snacks (a few biscuits, with a bit of fruit) was pretty mean, considering that this boat had pulled in several hundred rials. The staff are not at all attentive (in the way that you might expect professional support to be). It's like you're just along for the ride. When the boat finally picked us all up to go there was just a cursory enquiry about whether we had had a good time. The half an hour ride back in choppier conditions was exhilarating, and bumpy, but spoilt by the smell of the engines. We were glad to get off the boat. Overall the other snorkellers felt this had been an OK day out, but they were not overly impressed (they said their previous visit had been better). I don't know about the divers, although couldn't hear anyone raving about it. Recommendation for others would be to be prepared to be self-reliant, take your own kit and refreshments, and if possible choose a perfectly still day so that you can enjoy the best spots. Alternatively save your snorkelling for elsewhere. I don't think the combination of divers and snorkellers works. This place provides a service of sorts but is not going out of its way to give you the best possible experience. The village of Sawadi itself (you pass through it just before you get to the hotel) was filthy with rubbish, being consumed by herds of goats - a depressing site at the best of times. Even the 'pristine' island where we ended up snorkelling was despoilt with rubbish, which had been left there, no washed up - a problem all over Oman (even in supposed protected areas like turtle beaches) due invariably to local litter bugs.

3  Thank Travelboffin
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Reviewed 6 October 2014
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Reviewed 25 September 2014
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Reviewed 14 January 2014
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Reviewed 4 April 2013
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