Bandar Abbas and Hormuz island left me speechless and bid me farewell with a different insight and a broader mindset. And above all, I shared this journey with my favourite travel buddies who like always made the experience easy, fun, exciting and memorable.
Like all my travels around Iran, I have come back home stunned, shocked and fascinated by the diversity this country offers. I have met people who spoke a language I could not comprehend, had a skin tone unlike mine, shared a completely different culture and even dressed in a unique way. And all within the land I call home.
Like always I’m here to share it all with you. 🙂
How did we get to Bandar Abbas?
There are 3 ways to get to Bandar Abbas, Iran’s most important port by the Persian Gulf. You could fly directly from Tehran at around 250 Tomans one way, take the bus at 53-89 Tomans depending on the bus or hop on a train. There are two kinds of trains to Bandar Abbas. Each take around 18 hours (Yes! 18 hours on a train!). Both of them embark a bit later than noon and arrive at Bandar Abbas early in the morning. One is the normal train that comes in cabins of 6 which is slightly cheaper and the other has cabins of 4. We took the latter and it set us back by 208 Tomans for a return trip.
The train are comfortable and relatively clean but I wouldn’t dare spend 18 hours on it without great company. Blankets, clean sheets and a small afternoon snack is provided upon departure but you’d have to order food from the restaurant if you haven’t brought any. As the food on the train does not come in great quality, we went all prepared.
Where to stay in Bandar Abbas?
Bandar Abbas has hotels of all kind, but it was not what we were looking for. We were travelling on a budget and wanted to delve into the local culture and act as less touristy as possible. Through former communications we had found a guy who rented apartments in the city. We had zero idea of what it was going to be like but agreed on 110 Tomans for our first night. To be honest, the house was awful! The facilities were all ruined and so basic and it wasn’t very clean but we didn’t really have much of a choice.
We arrived around 9 a.m., headed straight to the house, left our stuff and were out in an hour. We spent the whole day sightseeing in Bandar Abbas. We visited mosques, a bathhouses, wandered around bazaars, bought fish from the fish market and chilled on the beach at sunset. We bought lunch from a famous takeaway called Gubuli that offered traditional Bandari dishes and picked up Falafel for dinner.
As recommended, we had checked with the port to see if ferries to Hormuz island were running the next day. We were told that there was a chance the port was going to be closed as strong winds were to arrive by the next day. We got a bit worried as our main destination was going to be Hormoz and we didn’t want to stay another night in Bandar Abbas. However it was a Thursday and a friend of mine had highly recommended a visit to Minab’s Thursday market. We took a bet on it and thought we’d be back to the port by noon after visiting Minab which turned out to be the pinnacle of our trip. 🙂
There’s a taxi station in Bandar where taxis can take you to Minab upon 12 Tomans. The journey takes about an hour. We woke up super early and were at Minab by 9:30 a.m.. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and I’m so glad we decided to fit it into our itinerary. The Thursday market in Minab was like nothing I had seen before. It was full of colour, was truly authentic and very temptational. Don’t go with empty pockets! 😉
We got back home by noon, packed our stuff and were ready to leave just after having lunch at a fast food restaurant near our place. We arrived to the port at 2 p.m. and as it turns out the port had closed just 10 min before!! Some luck! You can imagine the look on our faces.
We decided to talk with the locals sitting at the port and many of them were saying that a ferry was definitely going to be sent at least once during the day. Despite the officials encouraging us to leave, we decided to stay. We had nowhere to go and were desperate to get to Homoz island.
3 hours later a ferry was sent to take the rest of us to Hormuz. We were head over heels at the sight of it and had such a fun journey sharing seats with a local family heading to Hormuz for a party. I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed the ride despite the strong waves and one of us getting seasick. oops!
We arrived to Hormuz. Safe and Sound. Mr Bavi was going to be our go-to guy in Hormoz. He picked us up and had a local house arranged for us. Hormoz is mainly a fishermen’s island. The locals are quite poor and very willing to rent their houses for a few nights to visitors. We stayed at a one bedroom house by the beach. It was perfect. Clean, well located and came with everything we needed for only 80 Tomans per night. Bargain!
It was too late for us to go looking for a proper restaurant, so we bought samusa and Falafel from a small vendor for dinner. It was delish!
Today was the day we had been waiting for. Mr Bavi introduced us to Ahmad, who was going to be our rickshaw driver. We jumped on the rickshaw and went off exploring the island. Ahmad took us on a tour of the island’s best beaches, salt caves and showed us some of the most glorious views of the island. We got back to Mr Bavi’s place at noon where his wife had cooked us a delectable feast of local seafood. We had shrimp, fish and Ghalyeh Mahi, a traditional plate from the south of Iran which is mainly fish, herbs and spices.
We headed back home after lunch, took a quick nap and went to the famous Gelak cafe for our afternoon tea. Right before sunset, we took a walk by the coast heading to the remnants of the Portuguese castle where we had panoramas of Hormoz and an indescribable sunset over the Oman sea.
We spent the rest of the evening exploring the island on foot, bought some snacks and fruits and got food from a street vendor. We had some local girls come over for the evening to give us henna tattoos and before we know it, we were caught deeply in conversation till the crack of dawn.
There was still a lot of the island we had not seen but this time we decided to explore the island on a boat. We rented a speedboat that took us on a tour around the island and made a stop at an intact beach which was hardly accessible by foot. We spent a good hour chilling on the shore, strolling on the famous glistening sand of the Hormuz, getting our feet wet and taking way too many photos.
For lunch we went to Gelak cafe where we shared a few different dishes. Later we visited the Nadali museum, bought souvenirs and headed back to our house to pack up and leave the red island.
We could have left the island the next morning, but were a bit cautious from our previous experience and did not want to lose our train back home. We got on a ferry and were back in Bandar Abbas by the evening. We went into some trouble finding a new place to stay the night and were unfortunate to realize that our best option was the house we had previously stayed in. After long discussions with the real state agent, we agreed to pay 90 Tomans for the same place. We were not happy but there was only so much we could do. Although we ended up having a good laugh about. 😉
We did some shopping and prepared a light dinner for ourselves.
There was hardly much left for us to see in Bandar Abbas, so we just went back to the bazaar for some last minute shopping and were back home by noon to pick up our stuff and leave for the train station.
We left for Tehran at 3 p.m. after a two-hour delay and were back home by 9 a.m. the next morning.
When is the best time to visit?
Visiting during the winter time gave us the luxury of trading our winter coats for sandals and summer tops. The weather was absolutely delightful. Warm enough to go for a dip and cold enough to not require air conditioning. The best period to visit this area would be from late autumn to early spring, but beware that Nowruz is always a peak season in Iran and finding accommodation can get a bit tricky.
I personally wouldn’t change anything from our itinerary. We could have gotten a bit more of Hormuz if it wasn’t for the ferry and perhaps done a bit more research to find better accommodation in Bandar Abbas, but this was the whole idea of the trip. It was not supposed to be perfect but we decided to enjoy it the way it was.
We explored a city none of us had visited, spent hours chatting with locals, dressed up like them, stayed in their houses, shared their food and came back home a better version of ourselves.
P.S. Most of these photos were taken with mobile phones as I intended to make the story as realistic as possible. Credit goes to myself and my friends: Aida Abbasi, Sedigheh Amrollahi, Sanaz Alinia, Omid Seyfi.