The moment you cross into Musandam, the Omani enclave-peninsula in the north of the UAE, things – especially scenery – go from sad to rad.

Locals – even border officials – are actually friendly and welcoming, living a traditional lifestyle despite being wealthy.

It’s one of those rare places where you will see people living with both a Lexus and their goats.

The minimum age for renting a car here is 25, which means me and Jose had to hitch-hike. Our first catch at the border, Ki Steiner, turns out to be a kindred soul with whom we share the day with, beginning our exploration of this area of massive sheer mountain faces facing crystal-clear water along the coral, tortoise, fish and dolphin-populated coast.

Setting up our newly acquired $10 tent on a flat white beach 5km from the nearest town, we made Omani and expat friends around a fire. We ended up being invited to dinner by a group of 25 soldiers, which was swiftly followed by an improvised drum session with half-empty petrol tanks, Pepsi cans… and a Ukulele.

Looking back at the water after nightfall, WOW.

Fluorescent plankton! Beautiful blue-green lights rolling along the lapping waves: I rush into the water to play with this microscopic magic.

A quiet night, swayed through by the oceans breath. An awakening foreshadowing the sun’s own. Is this life too easy? The idyllic, as it tends to, only materializes following a homeless week-long stretch of bumming around various soulless cities in the UAE. I cannot recall a place I have despised more than Dubai (well, Qatar), nor can I recall a place more boring to me. I am therefore supremely grateful to be out of there. Goggles on hand, it was time to hitch-hike our way to a tortoise-nest.