Visiting Hormuz island has been one of my favourite offbeat places to visit in Iran. Majorly known as the Rainbow island of Iran, Hormuz is an incredible island in the Persian Gulf well known for its distinctive landscape and colorful soil. Home to some very unique minerals mines, it’s not hard to find mountains colored in blue, white, purple and shades of red and orange. Visiting Hormuz island is definitely one of the most unique travel experiences you could have in Iran. If you’re traveling to Iran in winter or late autumn, it would be a major failure to miss out on the red island.
Best time visiting Hormuz island
Hormuz can get extremely hot during summer, spring or autumn. It can even get hot in winter during the day as it’s very unlikely to miss a sunny day. We’d highly recommend visiting during winter. Especially if you’re considering to camp here.
How to get to Hormuz island?
- Departure from Bandar Abbas to Hormuz: 6:45 / 9:00 / 12:00 / 14:00 / 17:00 / 21:30
- Departure from Hormuz to Bandar Abbas: 7:00 / 10:00 / 13:30 / 15:30 / 19:00
- Departure from Qeshm island: 7:00 / 14:00
- Departure from Hormuz island: 8:00 / 15:00
During high season, boats will be heading to the island more frequently. They’ll basically depart as soon as they are full, being replaced by an empty boat for other passengers.
The ferry ticket from Bandar Abbas to Hormuz costs 300,000 Rials for foreign tourists and 350,000 from Qeshm island.
Both of these cities can be reached via plane and Bandar Abbas is well connected by train and buses to many cities in Iran. Ferries heading to Hormuz run frequently and you’d better check with a local or at the port as timetables might change. We also got unlucky with bad weather and a stormy sea which delayed our departure from Bandar Abbas and from what we heard, it’s not uncommon.
After our rather troublesome departure and bumpy ferry ride from Bandar Abbas, we were finally off the ferry and on the shores of Hormuz Island. It was already dark and the weather felt like spring in late January. Numerous drivers wanted to offer us a ride but we insist on waiting for Mr. Bavi to come to pick us up.
Accommodation in Hormuz island
Mr. Bavi was introduced to us when we were doing our research on visiting Hormuz island. He was an absolute gentleman and basically prepared everything we could have needed on the red island. He probably speaks the smallest bit of English but he’s truly a lifesaver and we’ve been sending happy travelers to him ever since. If you’re heading to Hormuz, give him a call and he’ll fix up everything you need. (+98-9393932728)
At the time of our visit to Hormuz, there were really no hostels or accommodations to be found. We literally had the island absolutely unspoiled and almost to ourselves. Nowadays there are a few decent guesthouses and hostels to be found. There’s even a hotel near the port but you’d probably want to avoid it for the best local experience.
Most accommodations in Hormuz are really tacky! But here are the hostels we’d recommend:
We obviously went for a whole different sort of accommodation in Hormuz. Mr. Bavi had found us a house to rent and it was the best thing we could ask for. It’s was a small house that belonged to a local family who was willing to rent their place to us for two nights and meanwhile live elsewhere themselves. There’s only so many sources of income on Hormuz and renting your own place to tourists is one of them.
The family who rented their place to us seemed to have been doing this for quite some time. The woman of the house quickly pulled out bags of relatively new blankets, mattresses, and pillows and showed us where everything is. It was a one-bedroom apartment with a small front yard where the toilet was located. It was simple but clean and that’s all that mattered to us. The location was superb, just across the famous Gelak cafe and super close to the beach.
A while ago I was contacted by Farzad who run the Konaar guesthouse in Hormuz island. I was surprised by his level of English and apparently he’s doing his best to teach English to the locals as well. He claims his wife is a great cook and gave lots of great information to update this post. They also offer artist residencies to visual artists and travel writers based on request. These residencies run from 2 days up to a week and include room and board and do not include transportation costs or tours.
I know we’ll be definitely visiting them next time we’re in Hormuz island but if you’d to have great English speaking local to help you out with accommodation and everything else in Hormuz, feel free to give Farzad Karimi a call. +98-9162031508
Places to eat on the island
There are very few restaurants in Hormuz apart from the cheap yummy Falafel places. Seleydoon is the most famous restaurant on the island serving mostly light dishes and seafood. For us at the time, Gelak cafe turned out to be one of our favourite places to eat on the island. They serve amazing local food (mainly seafood) and we frequently found ourselves here for a cup of coffee or cold drink. I’ve also heard that there’s a new cafe not far from Gelak that’s can be an option. It’s called Shooran Cafe. It’s right beside the sea and you can get fresh fruit juices and a variety of herbal tea here.
We also had one meal at a local home prepared by Mr. Bavi’s wife. We obviously paid for it as locals do this for a living but we were more than happy to do so. Not only did we get to visit a local home but this was literally our best meal of the whole trip.
Mrs. Bavi made Ghalyeh Mahi for us which is a dish made out of fish, herbs and spices served with rice. It’s famous to the southern region of Iran but I find the version in Hormuz to be the most delectable.
Top things to do in Hormuz island
On our second day in Hormuz island, we were guided by Ahmad, a relative of Mr. Bavis’ to explore the island.
Rickshaws, scooters, and bikes are easy to rent on the island and they are the best way to get around. You can also get a guide as we did. It takes around 4 hours to make a roundtrip around the island without any stops. There is also the option of speedboats which give you a completely different perspective of the island. Some beaches are also only accessible by a boat.
While visiting Hormuz island we made stops at salt caves, discovered pristine beaches covered with glittery sand, we hiked through mountains to reach a viewpoint known as the Valley of Statues and wandered into another one named Rainbow Valley after its colorful soil.
After our excursion around the rainbow island, we had lunch and walked toward the famous Portuguese castle. We walk around its remnants, discover a mine with red soil rich in iron, chatted with local women and found the best sunset view of the island.
Next day we decide to explore Hormoz on a boat. There was still way too much to be seen on the island and we loved to get a view of everything from the sea.
Due to the heavy waves coming from the east, we were limited to observing the western side of the island and made a stop at a sublime beach protected by huge cliffs. We indulged in a languorous walk on the beach and let ourselves be intrigued by the gushing sound of waves and swooned over the feeling of pinky shade sand under our feet.
For the afternoon we visited the Nadalian museum. We had to ask for directions a couple of times but finally made it. The gallery is owned by Ahmad Nadalian who is an international environmental artist. He’s dedicated this place to teach his art to local women and showcase their work so they can earn a bit of money from it. Make sure you by something from here to support the women. Making an income on the island can be rough and these people need to be supported financially in order to stop the selling of their soil to other countries.
For the evening we had some locals girls come over to our place and draw henna tattoos on our hands for a small fee. This was again arranged by Mr. Bavi. We ended up in a deep conversation with the girls until late into the night.
On our third day, we strolled around the neighborhood, befriended local kids and packed to leave Hormuz on the first ferry to Bandar Abbas in the afternoon.
We could have easily stayed longer on the island. It’s probably one of the most intact places of the country which is quickly coming into the spotlight. The views are rewarding and the locals are desperate for more tourists.
If you’d like to read more on our itinerary and expenses for this trip check out this post.
Tips on visiting Hormuz
- If you’re into camping, then this is camping heaven. Mofanegh Beach used to be the most famous place for campers but apparently camping in the area is now forbidden for environmental reasons.
- If you decide to go camping, make sure you buy all your supplies before heading to the site. Going back and forth to town is not that easy.
- Having beaches to yourself is almost guaranteed so packing for swimsuits might be a good idea.
- Please exchange enough money before you arrive as there are no currency exchanges on the island.