A popular destination, Hormuz Island was a welcome rest on our Iran itinerary. The salty air and the warm temperatures of the Persian Gulf were a different experience after the dry and cold landscapes of Northern Iran and Central Asia.

While the Strait of Hormuz is more famous than the island itself, at least from a non-Iran perspective, the small Hormuz is worth a visit. Find out why in this post, and follow the steps of Marco Polo who supposedly visited the island in 1275.

Table of Content:

Where is the Hormuz Island located?

Hormuz Island, also called Hormoz, is in the Strait of Hormuz (Strait of Hormoz) in the Persian Gulf. The small island is about 5 miles (8 km) from Bandar Abbas off the Iranian Coast in the Hormozgān Province.

One of the most famous Iran islands, Hormoz is a small arid island barely 16-sq miles (42 km2) mostly composed of volcanic rocks. With almost no rains, the soil is salty, and you can find these salt formations everywhere on the island.

The Strait of Hormuz is of course known for its strategic position in the Persian Gulf.

Hormuz Island Travel Guide

The life on Hormuz is still very much traditional; all centered around the main and only village of Hormuz. While a few of the attractions are in the village proper, as the Portuguese Fort, most of the things to see in Hormuz are scattered across the island.

While the island is a favorite day trip from Bandar Abbas, if you time the ferries right, it is best to take a few days to explore the island and soak in the traditional way of life.

Iran Hormuz Island Guide: What to See & How to Travel // Hormuz Island aka Rainbow Island

Hormuz Island aka Rainbow Island

Hormuz Itinerary: 3 Days to 1 Week

How long to stay on Hormuz depends on what you like. Some come as a day trip from Bandar Abbas. Other like people from Tehran come to stay for a long weekend. Foreign travelers might stay longer when they travel independently. We would say it takes about one full day to see the main sites, but three days will let you soak in the natural beauty of the island. And if you like camping, then one week will pass by in no time!

3-day Hormuz Itinerary:

  • Day 1: Portuguese Fort in the morning, then Silence Valley, Valley of Statues, and Rainbow Mountains
  • Day 2-3: Camping, swimming and chilling on the beach

If you have a few more days, take your time and spread the first day over two days

7-day Hormuz Itinerary:

  • Day 1: Portuguese Fort in the morning, walk the small streets, sip tea, visit the Nadalina museum
  • Day 2: Rent a bike to explore Silence Valley, Valley of Statues, and Rainbow Mountains
  • Days 3-4: Camp by Pink Beach
  • Day 4-6: Camp by another beach to explore a different side of the island
  • Day 7: Ferry back to Bandar Abbas

Iran Hormuz Island Guide: What to See & How to Travel // Lovely Rainbow Island

Lovely Rainbow Island

Persian Golf Traditions

Traditional Living

Traditional fishing was and still is essential in Hormoz Iran. Small boats are up all night fishing around the island until the early hours, fishermen repair the nets manually as they have for hundreds of years, and grilled fish can be tasted watching the ocean or under the stars at night.

Salt Harvesting

Salt is almost everywhere on Hormuz Island. White spreads of sodium crystals that look like a sea of salt. We came across an elderly couple even harvesting patches of salt, carrying away the pieces away on their bike.

Island Architecture and Design

It is common to eat and sleep on the floor in Iran. In this restaurant, the thatched roof of the patio prevents the sun to burn the guests while the open side let the wind bring some refreshing breeze. Mats and cushions provide comfort while resting and eating.

Women in the Strait of Hormuz

Hormozi women close to the Rainbow Valley smoking the hookah, or ghaliyan as it is called in Persian. This tobacco water pipe, also known as shishah, is a favorite in Iran. We saw many coffee shops where men and sometimes women come to smoke for an hour or two, leisurely smoking and drinking tea while chatting.

Henna Painting

At our hostel, one of the ladies started henna hand-painting on one of the guests. A delicate and patient process that can take hours depending on how details the design is.

Bandari Women

Bandari woman wearing the boregheh, a mask traditionally worn on Hormuz and Qeshm islands in Iran. Both Shia and Sunny women wear a mask, though the Shia’s tend to be red and rectangular whereas the ones Sunni wear are usually black. These masks are mostly seen along the coastline in the Strait of Hormuz, and on the Islands of Qeshm and Hormoz.

Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Bandari woman wearing the traditional boregheh mask

Bandari woman wearing the traditional boregheh mask

 

Hormuz Island Attractions

Portuguese Castle

The church inside the Fort of Our Lady of the Conception, or Portuguese Castle. The red-stone fortress was completed in 1515 by the Portuguese and is one of the few remaining monuments from Portugal colonial era in the Persian Gulf. A couple of rooms are still standing, like this underground church, the water tank, or the old cannons.

You can get lovely views of the village of Hormuz and the ocean from the top of the fortress, so make sure to get up there to check it out.

Silence Valley

The rock formations made of salt are stunning, the shades of the crystal structures varying from milky whites to soft pinks and burnt oranges. If you want to get a better view of the valley and the Persian Gulf, follow the trail up to the higher formations. Try staying on the existing paths to avoid damaging the rocks further, and wear proper shoes as the ground is rather hard and sharp.

Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // View from the Silence Valley

View from the Silence Valley

Avoid visiting during Iran holidays or weekends (around Fridays): Hormuz is a popular domestic destination and Iranians from the mainland tend to flock there to enjoy the beautiful island. Which means that the small attractions tend to be overrun by people. So if you want to enjoy the Silence of the Silence Valley, make sure to time your visit outside these days.

Rainbow Mountains Valley

True to its name, and the reasons why Hormuz Island is nicknamed the Rainbow Island, the Rainbow Mountains is a must-see while on the island.

Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Rainbow Mountains


Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Rainbow Mountains

The site is easily accessible from the main (and only!) road. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes as the ground is uneven, and the rocks sharp.

Valley of Statues

The statues are not obvious, but as it is often the case, they are based on one’s imagination.

What was, however, striking, were how busy the small area was. As this photo can show, it was hard to move around.

Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Crowded Valley of Statues

Crowded Valley of Statues

Other two top attractions on Hormuz include:

  • Museum and Gallery of Dr. Ahmad Nadalian (called Nadalina Museum) features work from the artist of the same name.
  • Salt Cave

Hormuz Island Things to Do

Biking Silence Valley to Valley of the Statues

The 2.5-mile (4-km) dirt road is rather rough – broad and deep sinkholes, sharp salt rocks, totally exposed with neither shade nor water – but crossing fantastic moon-like landscape that makes you feel you’re are on another planet. Think Mars even!  This area is not to be explored with flipflop and unprepared.

After the busy and noisy encounters at the Silence of Valley, we enjoyed the actual silence of that trail. A reminder that even at busy touristy places, you can always find peace, and a way to soak in the beauty of any place. It just takes to a few steps away from the attraction itself, and in our mind, much better experience to appreciate the island of Hormuz.

How much is a Bike Rental on Hormuz:
  • We rented our bikes in a small shop on the way to the Portuguese Fort
  • Costs were 800,000 IRR for two people for the whole day on old bikes. This price was negotiated down as the original fees were around 100,000 IRR per hour.
Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Crossing Hormuz Island by Bike

Crossing Hormuz Island by Bike

Hormuz Beaches

Being an island, finding a beach on Hormuz Island is not difficult. One of the most famous beaches in Hormuz is Pink Beach, along with Silver Beach. But the island is packed with small coves, some with soft sand, others with rocks, some flat, a few with sharper cliffs.

You can drive directly to several of these beaches, but you might need to walk for others, passing by bushes, palm trees, or simply nothing.

We were, however, surprised by the amount of trash on some of these beaches. Granted, they were packed in neat bags, but these bags were left for the sea to carry away, for the birds to open and help themselves, and for the wind to pick up and blow pieces all around. The concept of “leave no trace behind” has yet to reach the shores of Hormuz Island…

Hiking in Hormuz Island

While the island is not big, the center of the island is mostly rocks and hills. The rugged landscape gives good hiking opportunities across the different valleys, from the Silence Valley to the Rainbow Mountains Valley.

While hiking the latter can be short, hiking through the Silence Valley can take a few hours along the 2.5 -3.5 miles (4-6 km) long trail. As we mentioned, this is a highly exposed and rugged trail, so come prepared with good hiking shoes and lots of water.

Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Hiking in the Rainbow Mountains

Hiking in the Rainbow Mountains

Wildlife on Hormuz Island

No wonder on an island, lots of birds are present, and the Persian Gulf is home to many migratory and local birds. Herons, kingfishers, cormorants, all fish their day away along the shores of Hormuz and are a magnificent sight when exploring the island.

Beyond birds, Hormuz also hosts several deers, which we saw as we searched for a beach to camp for the night. What was surprising was how accepting they were of our presence. Not very shy, they walked their way past us slowly.

Sunsets on Hormuz Island

Sunsets are always stunning, but then you have over the top sunsets like the ones we saw on Hormuz. These photos below were taken over different evenings, but each sunset was equally beautiful.

Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Red Sun on the Rainbow Island

Red Sun on the Rainbow Island

Hormuz Food

Given the closeness to the ocean, fish is a big staple on Hormoz. Make sure to try a grilled fish served with spicy sauce while you are on the island. The signature dish of Hormuz is indeed the Ghalyeh Mahi made out of fish, herbs, and spices served with rice. A must-try while on the Persian Gulf island.

Kashk Bademjan is a traditional Iranian meal made of eggplant. You cannot be in Iran and not try kashk bademjan! Every city has its version, every family its recipe. So even if you had some in Teheran or Isfahan, sample the eggplant dish on Hormuz for local flavor.

Sipping Iran tea is a must! The hot drink is served after the meal and usually comes with sugar or crystallized sweets. I personally like to drink my tea while eating so our servers were generally surprised when I would ask to get it right from the beginning.

Bread is a big deal in Iran, and we were surprised by how many variations there are in the country. And Hormuz was no different.

Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Enjoying our Iranian tea post-dinner


Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Enjoying our Iranian tea post-dinner

Street food is not to be missed on Hormuz. Here the lady is selling a hot pancake. A cheap and tasty snack.

There are also several small grocery stores in town, where you can buy snacks, cookies, dry food if you go camping (instant noodles, coffee), fruits, and bread. Some also sell ice cream – much appreciated when it’s hot outside!

Where to Eat:

  • Sample street food, from hot crepes to local sandwiches or small skewers.
  • Drink tea and grab some snacks at the Gelak Cafe on the road between the marina and the fort.
  • Taste Ghalyeh Mahi fish at the local restaurant (name in Farsi) across the Mila Bank

Food Costs: 

  • Lunch from Street food will be around 200,000 IRR for two people
  • Dinner in a regular restaurant, like we had the fish, would put you at 550,000 IRR for two people (300,000 IRR for the fish dish, 200,000 IRR for a veggie option).

Overtourism?

While the issue is not limited to Hormuz, Iran as a whole is not very touristy given the current sanctions imposed by the US. What makes the case of Hormuz stands out in our mind is that the island is rather small, and during the few days we spent there, we encountered a lot of tourists. From greasy shores to abandoned garbage bags on beaches or piling of garbage dumpsters, water brought from the mainland, it feels that the resources and management from the small island of Hormuz are being stretched too thin.

Of course, we are part of the problems. And we can’t fault visitors to come to enjoy the beauty of the island. Nor can’t we fault the local villagers eager for tourists to come to the island, providing a much-needed source of income.

We can hope that Hormuz realizes and works in improving the garbage management, but also educate visitors to be mindful of the pollution and pick up after themselves.

Where to Stay on Hormuz Island

With an increase in tourists visiting the island, Hormuz sees more accommodations. However, booking lodging in advance is tricky. Most western hotel sites like Booking.com do not work in Iran, and many of the lodging available are locals renting rooms as guesthouses. These can be hard to find if you don’t speak Farsi.

There are a couple of budget hostels, and you might be offered a room from people right on the ferry. If you arrive on a late boat, you might have fewer options or times to walk and ask around.

Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Local Host on Hormuz Homestay

Local Host on Hormuz Homestay: Mrs. Hassan

Costs for a room vary greatly depending on the type of rooms. Here are some of the options we had found, and the ones we used for ourselves:

  • Saboora Hostel: simple but nicely decorated, an outdoor area, and friendly staff. Contact: Hassan +98 9367899277. Cost for a dorm bed: 300,000 IRR (US$8) per person including a breakfast of eggs, bread, butter, and jam. We also used the kitchen for dinner one evening. Shared bathroom with hot water and WIFI are available. We stayed there for two nights and enjoyed the location and settings. The dorms are rather sparse, with bed mats on the floor, and limited amenities.
  • Hassan Guesthouse: We met an Iranian couple that informed us about their guesthouse, and we moved there for our last night. The people don’t speak English, and it’s a bit hard to find behind the Mosque Sahebzaman as there is no sign. But the room we had was spacious and clean, a full bed with a shared bathroom (new, super clean, and super hot water), with great Iranian breakfast of eggs, several types of bread and jam. Cost for the night was 250,000 IRR for a person without breakfast, 300,000 IRR with breakfast. No WIFI. We can only recommend this guesthouse! Contact: Hassan 09171697644 (Farsi only)
Other options we had read about but did not try personally:
  • Hazim Backpacker Hostel, by Meli Bank. Costs are 3€ without breakfast, 5€ with breakfast. Contact Hazim (English/Farsi) 0098 9170766430 (WhatsApp)
  • Ashpazkhune Jafari (Khondegh). Contact: 0098-9179393720.
  • Morteza Zarneghari. Contact: 00989179573677

Camping on Hormuz Island

Camping is a highly popular activity on Hormuz Island, and what’s best, it’s free!

You can stay pretty much on any of the beaches anywhere on the island. If you do go on a weekend (remember that Iranian weekends run from Thursday to Friday), or on holiday, you might be camping with several people on the same beach. So if you are looking for solitude, you might have to search for an isolated beach or hard to reach.

Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Camping on Hormuz Island

Camping on Hormuz Island

How to Organize Your Camping on Hormuz

  • If you are on a bike, then you can organize your way on your wheels. If not, rent a tuk-tuk to drop you and pick you up at the end of your stay. Or hitchhike your way back. We had “booked” a tuk-tuk, but the driver did not show up, even after calling three times over 1 hour and a half. We ended up catching a ride with tourists from Tehran who had rented a minivan with driver.
  • Buy your food at one of the small grocery stores. Fruits, vegetables, coffee, canned food, bread – the choice is not large but enough for a couple of days.
  • Take ALL THE WATER you need as there is no water source available. And some more, because it’s hot!
  • For your stove, we like our multi-fuel stove, so we just needed to stop at a gas station. You might ask your hostel if they have or know where to find canisters. There is no shop that we know of that sell them, but previous passing travelers might have left a canister.
  • While some people do sell wood, and you might find some dead wood nearby, we would recommend not building any fire. Using that wood is depleting the island, and that dead wood can be used by the local people as well as the local flora and fauna – insects, birds, etc.
  • Please Leave No Trace Behind – picking all garbage.

Hormuz Island Transportation

There is no public transportation on the island of Hormoz. Your options are:

  • Rent a bike for the day:
    • Costs were around 100,000 IRR per hour. You can try to negotiate the prices down if you keep the bikes for the day. We rented ours from the road going to the Portuguese Fort, but it seems there is another bike rental by the harbor.
  • Rent a motorbike:
    • Average costs are about 1,000,000 IRR for the day for a small bike. There is no rental shop but ask at your hostel who will surely know someone willing to rent out. Note that there will be probably no insurance, so rent at your own risk.
  • By tuk-tuk (Rickshaw):
    • Rent a tuk-tuk with driver for an hour or the day.
    • The more people, the cheaper the ride will be.
    • The average cost is around 200,000 IRR for an hour though it might be more during the weekends and holidays when domestic tourists from the mainland or Tehran come to the island. Renting for the day would be around 1,000,000 – 1,500,000 IRR for the vehicle.
  • Walk:
    • The island is small and safe, which makes it easily walkable. Do take a lot of water and good shoes if you decide to go on foot.
    • And the best benefit, it’s free!
  • Hitchhike:
    • Another option, and many times at no cost. Traffic is not heavy by no mean so you might have to wait a bit to get someone to pick you up. But it should not be an issue.
    • The few times we did it, we always offered to pay, which we did on one occasion, and did not for the second – the famous Persian Taarof!
Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Tuk-tuk for rent, an option to explore Hormoz

Tuk-tuk for rent, an option to explore Hormoz

How to Travel to Hormuz Island

The only option is by ferry from Bandar Abbas or Qeshm

Ferry to Hormuz Island

  • Ferry from Bandar Abbas to Hormuz Island
    • The ferry to Hormuz departs from the Shahid Haqani Passenger Port, lasts about 40 to 50 minutes and costs 100,000 IRR per person.
    • Ferry schedule to Hormuz: 6:45am/7 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, 5 pm, and 8:30 pm.
    • Ferry schedule back to Bandar Abbas: 8 am, 10 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, and 6 pm.
    • Check with your hotel to confirm as these schedules might change.
  • Ferry from Qeshm to Hormuz 
    • Several boats leave from the same harbor and reach Qeshm city on the west side of the island.
    • The 50 to 60-minute boat ride costs 175,000 IRR per person.
    • Bikes might be riding for free, but we were also charged a small fee for our backpacks left at the front of the ferry. So check before boarding.
    • Ferry schedule to Qeshm: 7 am and 2 pm
    • Ferry schedule back to Hormuz: 8 am and 3 pm.
    • Make sure to buy your ticket to the office before entering the port, opposite the roundabout facing the port entrance.
Hormuz Island Guide: Travel Tips & Things To See // Ferry from Hormuz to Qeshm

Ferry from Hormuz to Qeshm

How to Arrive in Bandar Abbas

  • You can fly to Bandar Abbas Airport.
    • Several planes fly from Tehran and other major cities in Iran
  • Arrive by Train
    • Trains from Tehran, Mashad, and Esfahan
    • You might need to change trains from other destinations, and connect via one of these three cities
    • Check the timetable from Iran Railways website
  • Take one of the numerous direct buses
    • Too many to list here! Given how important Bandar Abbas here, there are several direct buses from Yazd, Kerman, Shiraz, and many other smaller cities. You can book in the morning but if you want an early departure, book a day ahead to ensure your seat.

When to Go to Hormuz Island

The best time to visit Hormuz is winter when the temperatures are mild at an average of 77°F (25°C). It might get windy by the beach so if you are camping or planning on exploring at night, do bring a wind shell. Summertime is scorching hot with temperatures as high as 110°F (45°C), so it’s best to avoid that time of the year.

Hormuz Island Travel Tips

  • Money might be changed, but options are more limited than on the mainland. We were able to change at our hostel, but it might not be available in all hostels, and the rate not as favorable.
  • We were able to pay in Euros for our hotel night, but double-check if that’s an option. Also, check which currency prices are quoted – sometimes in Euros, sometimes in US Dollars.
  • Many shops close between 2 pm and 5 pm, so plan accordingly.
  • Hormuz is a small island, and besides the town, there are not many activities. If you are looking for an active nightlife, you might not be in the right place.
  • The whole island felt safe, and we had no issue walking at night from our hostel to the shops.
  • Per our notes on holidays and weekends, Hormuz is popular with domestic tourism. Try to avoid these days if you can, as it felt that the place was overrun by tourists. A small island it is, and it doesn’t take many people to feel crowded.


 

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Iran Hormuz Island Guide: What to See & How to Travel // Rainbow Valley

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