Hormuz 'Rainbow' Island in the Persian Gulf
Iran has islands. This discovery was my first step in planning a visit to Hormuz Island in the Persian Gulf. Yes, not only does this vast land have forests, deserts, mountains and more tiles than you can shake a stick at. It also has a group of islands right in the South which often gets left off travel itineraries.
Visiting Hormuz Island is a must for any travellers wanting to get off the beaten path in Iran. In fact it's one of the top things we did in Iran.
The most well-known of Iran's islands is Kish which is a duty-free and visa-free zone popular with Middle Eastern tourists. But further to the East lie the lesser known (but much larger) Qeshm and tiny Hormuz or ‘Rainbow Island’. Looking online (as all good travel planners do) we found very little practical information about getting to, around and off these islands.
So we did it anyway and wrote it all down for anyone else looking for some extra info about visiting Hormuz. If you’re interested in Qeshm you can read our article here (coming soon).
Basic Facts about Hormuz Island
Langauage: Farsi dialect, very little English spoken on the island
Currency: Iranian Rial IRR (rates constantly changing due to inflation)
How to get to Hormuz Island
The easiest way to get to Hormuz is by passenger ferry from Bandar Abbas or Qeshm.
Ferries from Bandar Abbas to Hormuz leave at 7am, 9am, 12pm, 2pm, 5pm and 8:30pm. It takes roughly 40 minutes and costs 70,000 IRR
Ferries from Qeshm to Hormuz are at 7am and 2pm and take 50 minutes. The ticket is 90,000 IRR
*As of December 2017*
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.
Accommodation on Hormuz Island
It’s very difficult to find accommodation on Hormuz in advance. Many locals offer their rooms as guesthouses and you will be offered these from the moment you get on the ferry. We were told 500,000 IRR for a double room but I’m sure they vary in standard and price. If you arrive during the day you could walk around and have a look at some (the town is small) before deciding.
We wanted to hang out with some other people and headed to the only hostel in Hormuz we could find. Saboora Hostel is a very simple, traditionally decorated place with a great outdoor area. The owners are very relaxed and can offer good information about the island. It’s 300,000 per person in shared rooms although there is no real allocation and we ended up with a room to ourselves. The bedding is traditional style with mats and blankets on the floor. Breakfast (omelette, bread, jam, tea) is included.
You can try booking in advance by calling Hassan:+98 9367899277 or just turn up like we did. It’s marked on the map further on in this article.
Camping on the beach is also really popular in Hormuz so if you have a tent then find a nice spot and set up camp. It’s legal in Iran to pitch a tent almost anywhere!
Transport on Hormuz Island
There are very few cars and the most popular form of transport on Hormuz Island for tourists is a rickshaw with space for up to six people in the back. The set rate is 200,000 IRR per hour but many will try to charge more (around 50,000IRR per hour). If you are a group this works out to be quite economical and is by far the easiest way to see the island.
Feeling intrepid, we hired bikes and proceeded to ride around the entire island. It ended up being lots of fun but there are a few things we wish we’d known first:
-The rental bikes shown on our map are 40-50,000 IRR per hour and have one set of gears.
-The rental bikes at the harbour cost 70,000 IRR per hour and are new mountain bikes.
-The island is 30km around and there is only one road
-It took us 4 hours with a few stops
-There are hills! We had to walk the bikes up some parts.
-They don’t provide locks but it’s safe to leave the bikes and walk down to the beach.
-We went clockwise around the island and think this was the easier way in terms of hills.
What to see on Hormuz Island
There is one road around Hormuz island and mountains and rocks in the centre. The island is mostly free to explore and it greatly depends on how much time you have and what you’re interested in. In one day you can easily see the main ‘attractions’ of Hormuz Island. But if you have extra time there are many local secrets to discover. There are some poorly made tourist maps of Hormuz that you might find at your accommodation but just in case we made a map with some key points.
The top things to see on Hormuz island are:
The Portuguese Castle
A red stone fortress left over from the Portuguese colonisation of the Persian Gulf. The entrance fee is 150,000 IRR. It is located in the town so you can easily walk there from your accommodation.
The hole in the rock
As it says, a natural archway in the rock. The beach here is nice and peaceful as well.
The red beach
The beach itself is just normal sand but the hills around are a beautiful, deep red. The water is also coloured by this rock and washes a dark red onto the shore.
I couldn't find an official name but this beach seemed popular with campers when we were there and looked like a great secluded spot to enjoy the sunset. You have to walk down through some interesting white, stone cliffs to get to the beach but the path is easily visible.
The entire island is made of rainbow mountains and you can freely walk through most of the middle of it. But this spot is a good place to stop and check out all the colours. There are a few local women selling souvenirs and 10c samosas but it’s far from a bustling tourist attraction.
valley of the statues
You can spot this from the small hut on the side of the road. Walking a little further there are all kinds of rocks that have been shaped by wind, rain and age into a variety of interesting shapes.
Weather in Hormuz
The best time to visit Hormuz is in the winter when the daytime temperature is a pleasant 23-28°C. At night the temperature drops and it can get quite cool so bring a warm layer and a sleeping bag if you plan on camping at the beach.
In the summer Hormuz 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 in Hormuz
There aren’t any restaurants on the island, more a series of people’s living rooms that provide food to locals. There is one of these opposite Saboora Hostel. Food is very cheap (around €1 per portion) and is best ordered by just pointing. If you walk around after dark you will be able to spot the women cooking in a small room and some local people waiting for their order.
There are also a couple of sandwich shops serving falafel and ‘bandari’ a mix of sausage and spicy sauce. There is one next to the bank and another opposite the football stadium (see map).
Getting from Hormuz to Qeshm
To get the ferry from Hormuz to Qeshm or Bandar Abbas you need to buy tickets at the office before entering the port (see map). The ferries to Qeshm go at 8am and 3pm daily and take around 50 minutes. It costs 90,000 IRR.
Other Helpful Info for Visiting Hormuz
-There is no currency exchange on Hormuz so make sure you bring enough cash.
- Like most of Southern Iran, Hormuz has a ‘siesta’ time during the middle of the day. Between around 2pm and 5pm you will see very few people out in the streets and most shops will be closed.
-Hormuz felt safe even at night and people were very friendly and welcoming.
-We couldn't find any WiFi on the island although we heard some guesthouses have it. Mobile signal is very weak but best near the ferry terminal if you really need to connect.
A trip to Hormuz Island is an awesome addition to your trip to Iran and is quite different to the rest of the country. It really feels like finding somewhere untouched by tourism and full of natural beauty. Visiting Hormuz is well worth it and incredibly easy if you find yourself in the south of Iran.
If you're looking for more awesome places to add to your Iran itinerary click here for some suggestions.
Feel free to ask any questions below or let us know if information changes as Iran's popularity increases.