A detailed guide to visiting Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf.
Qeshm Island in Iran is very popular with local tourists as it is a duty-free zone but it's amazing geological, natural and cultural sights are making it more and more popular with international tourists.
Located in the Persian Gulf, visitors can reach Qeshm by ferry or flight. One entire half of the island has been named a UNSECO World Heritage site and offers some amazing natural wonders. Qeshm Island is also home to some interesting traditional culture that you won't find in the res of Iran.
If you're looking for a relaxed, interesting and beautiful place to add to your Iran itinerary then Qeshm Island is it!
After visiting the much smaller Hormuz Island we spent a few days on Qeshm Island. Despite catching some of the few rainy days a year on the island we still explored lots of the cool things to do on Qeshm Island and had a great time.
Basic Facts about Qeshm Island
Language: Farsi dialect, very little English spoken on the island
Currency: Iranian Rial (rates constantly changing due to inflation)
Visa for Qeshm Island
Qeshm Island, along with Kish Island, is visa free for ALL nationalities for up to 30 days! That includes US, Canada and UK.
How to get to Qeshm Island
Ferry to qeshm island
The easiest way to get to Qeshm is by passenger ferry from Bandar Abbas or Hormuz
The ferry from Bandar Abbas to Qeshm leaves every 30 minutes and costs 150,000 IRR.
Ferries from Hormuz to Qeshm are at 8am and 3pm and take 50 minutes. The ticket is 90,000 IRR
There are also car ferries which go between Bandar-e-Pol and Bandar-e-Laft on Qeshm island. They leave whenever they are full and are free for foot passengers.
There used to be speedboats between the islands and these prices are often quoted in guidebooks. But after an accident where several people died these boats are no longer used.
*Note* The ferries between Hormuz and Qeshm are often cancelled due to the weather. The ones to and from Bandar Abbas are larger boats so less likely to be cancelled but still might be so make sure you leave yourself some flexible days for travel.
Flights to Qeshm Island
There are regular flights to and from Qeshm airport from most major Iranian cities such as Shiraz, Tehran and Yazd. These can be easily booked at a travel agent within the country.
There is also a daily flight to and from Dubai but we couldn’t find and information online so flew from Bandar Abbas as we needed to book the flight from outside the country. If you are going for the visa-free option you will need to fly to and from Qeshm.
Accommodation on Qeshm Island
There are hotels and guesthouses in Qeshm town but this is not the nicest area of the island and many of the sights are located on the other side of the island.
Almost every small town has a home stay but not many of them have information online. We stayed at Assad’s Homestay in Bandar-e-Doulab which was really lovely. Proper beds, home cooking and the chance to hang out with some other travellers and learn about the island from the very charismatic Assad. It’s $15 per person which includes three meals.
Assad also runs tours of the island at $90 a day per car. This is good value if you’re a group of 4 but it was a bit much for our budget so we decided to do it ourselves.
Transport on Qeshm Island
There is no public transport on Qeshm apart from some shared taxis which leave Qeshm in the morning. Normal taxis are very expensive by Iranian standards but are the easiest way to get around.
We tried our hand at hitchhiking and were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. There are only a few main roads on the island and traffic is fairly constant. Standing waving your hand at passing traffic will undoubtedly end in a ride and by stringing these together you can get anywhere you need on the island.
We made sure we had an offline map and managed to get rides in a convertible Ford Mustang, a petrol tanker and the back of numerous pickup trucks. People fed us, made us talk to their family members on the phone and took endless selfies. Sometimes the ride was more fun than the destination!
Things to Do on Qeshm Island
The top things to see on Qeshm island are:
There is not much to see in the Qeshm town but if you get the ferry to here you might want to go for a wander before making your way further down the island. There are some markets and also plenty of shops and malls as Qeshm is a duty-free zone and many locals come from mainland Iran to buy cheap electronics!
Hengam Island and Dolphin Tours
Fun fact: Qeshm Island is shaped like a dolphin! There are boats leaving all the time from the Shib Deraz port with a really good chance of seeing dolphins (although never guaranteed). The boat tours also stop off on nearby Hengam Island where there are some local craft stalls. A tour costs 150,000 IRR per person.
namakdan Salt Cave
This is actually the longest salt cave in the world! It’s 6km long but you can’t go through it all. From the main entrance you can walk through for about 5-10 minutes before reaching a wall. Apparently you can crawl under the wall and emerge in a huge salt dome. This sounded amazing but the gap was about 40cm and with no view of what lay ahead I wasn’t game enough to find out! There are also other entrances to other parts of the salt caves but these are often closed.
This was an incredible experience. We timed our trip to be here for sunset and it was a great decision. It’s free to enter and is one of the top things to see on the island. A 10-minute walk takes you to the start of the canyon which has incredible patterns carved into the rock by rain and wind, you can also see wells that locals made from the natural holes in the rock. When it seems like you can’t walk any further, find a way to climb up to the top of the canyon to see it from above.
Qeshm Island is home to one of the largest mangrove forests in this part of the world. From Tabl jetty you can hire a boat which will take you around the mangrove forest, birdwatching and sometimes to one of the islands where you can walk around. Make sure you time your visit for high tide.
A canyon of towering rock formations which makes for a mesmerizing walk. The views by sunset are incredible and by night, as promised by it's name, thousands of stars are visible in the sky.
This is a traditional port town which has a skyline of wind towers. These structures used to be all over the island but now only remain in Laft although similar ones can be seen in Yazd and other desert towns. The idea is that the wind is caught to cool the house below. Laft is also where the car ferry goes to and from.
There are still many traditional wooden ships used to travel between Qeshm and Dubai and here you can see them being built. The entire process takes around 3 years and they are pretty impressive structures.
This small island is accessible at low tide when you can walk to the island over a sandbank. There is not a lot to see on the island but it’s a novelty idea. Just be careful not to get stuck on the island at high tide!
Weather in Qeshm
The best time to visit Qeshm is in the winter when the day time temperature is a pleasant 23-28°C. Apparently Qeshm gets around 10 rainy days a year and we managed to catch 2 of them! It wasn’t very heavy during the day though and we still managed to get out and see things.
In the summer Qeshm gets to over 45°C so don’t plan on cycling or doing anything too physical if you come in the summer months.
Places to eat on Qeshm Island
If you are staying in a homestay then meals will most likely be included. This is the best option as there are not many local restaurants. Most places will offer some kind of seafood which is a speciality being on an island! There are plenty of small shops to get snacks in each town.
Getting from Qeshm to Hormuz Island
The ferry from Qeshm to Hormuz goes at 7am and 2pm daily and take around 50 minutes. It costs 90,000 IRR.
There is also a ferry back from Hormuz at 3pm so it’s possible to visit Hormuz as a day trip. We recommend staying at least one night though to properly see the island. If you want more information check out our guide:
Other Helpful Info for Visiting Qeshm Island
-The island is quite large so seeing all the sights in one day would require a driver and only a quick stop in each place. Give yourself at least a couple of days.
-You can bring your own vehicle to Qeshm via the car ferry which runs from Bandar-e Pol.
-Qeshm is visa free so it’s actually possible to visit as a US or UK passport holder!
-There are no banks or ATMs in the small towns so make sure to bring rials with you or exchange some in Qeshm town before going further on the island.