Visit Iran’s Rainbow Hormuz Island
Updated November 2020, The Hormuz Island Travel Guide was originally written in July 2019
Welcome to the unusual and beautiful Hormuz Island, located in Iran’s Persian Gulf region. It seems that many forget or often overlook Iran’s gulf islands when planning trips to Iran. When I decided that I was going to backpack across Iran overland from Afghanistan I started listing off all the places I’d like to visit in a month. I quickly noticed that my plans largely neglected that long coastline along the Persian Gulf, and that’s when Qeshm Island landed on my projected Iran travel itinerary (let’s be real though, I never end up following my itinerary anyway…).
In Mashhad, I met a Spanish backpacker who I ended up crossing paths with again in Kerman. This was who told me about Hormuz as that was his next destination after Kerman. I asked him about it as I was planning to head to Qeshm, his response was to just look up photos.
So I did. That’s when my plans changed (sorry Qeshm, I’ll visit you next time).
Plan your trip: An Iran itinerary
How To Get To Hormuz
You can easily reach Hormuz Island by ferry from Bandar Abbas and Qeshm Island. Here is the schedule which I will translate for you below the image (can you tell that I’m super proud that I can read Persian/Arabic numbers?).
- Ferry departures from Bandar Abbas to Hormuz Island: 6:45 am, 9:00 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm, and 9:30 pm.
- Ferry departures from Hormuz Island to Bandar Abbas: 7:00 am, 10:00 am, 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 7:00 pm.
- Ferry departures from Qeshm Island to Hormuz Island: 7:00 am and 2:00 pm.
- Ferry departures from Hormuz to Qeshm: 8:00 am and 3:00 pm.
A one way ticket between Bandar and Hormuz will set you back 300,000 IRR ($2.30) and between Hormuz and Qeshm will cost 400,000 IRR ($3.00).
You can reach Bandar Abbas by bus from several cities in Iran, as well as reach the city by flight. Shop 1st Quest for bus tickets and flights. Another option for reaching Hormuz Island is to fly to Qeshm Island and take the ferry from Qeshm to Hormuz.
Going to Shiraz too? Check out my Shiraz Travel Guide
Getting Around Hormuz
Most who visit will lap the island by a hired tuk-tuk from just outside the gates at the port. This is the most time-efficient way of seeing Hormuz, so day-trippers— this is the option for you. Expect a trip around to take 4 hours. After a little haggling, you can expect to pay about 250,000 IRR ($2.00) per hour.
If you’d like to visit and want to hire out a driver beforehand contact Mohamad at +98 990499662 (text, call, WhatsApp) or on Instagram. Mohamad can also help arrange guesthouses.
Rent A Bicycle
You can also rent bicycles and cruise the 24km circumference of Hormuz. When you arrive, don’t go out of the gate at the port. There are two dome-shaped buildings to the right of the gate. The first one sells coffee, small dishes, and milkshakes (grab a tahini and date milkshake before or after your bike ride, ps: you’re welcome). The second dome rents bikes for 100,000 IRR (0.75¢) per hour. If you show up on the first ferry you can do the bike trip on a day trip to Hormuz but to not put time constraints on yourself I mostly recommend this for those that are spending at least a night on the island. It took me 7 hours to circle the island visiting the sites and stopping along the road for various (a bazillion) photo ops. Not counting all my stops my total cycle time was about 4 hours. I took on the island counter-clockwise in direction.
Pick up a copy of the Bradt Iran Guidebook and start planning your visit to Hormuz and beyond
How Long To Visit Hormuz
As I mentioned earlier, most who come to Hormuz are day-trippers from Bandar Abbas. If that’s all you got then, by all means, still go, but if you can swing spending a night or more here— do it!
Where To Stay
Several local families rent out rooms of their homes for about 1,000,000 IRR ($7.70) per night. Otherwise, there are a few hostels renting dorm beds located in the village. I stayed in a guestroom that I arranged on the spot after my arrival and I have zero complaints (can’t really beat a private room, A/C, kitchen, and toilet for under $10 USD/night).
The only accommodation I’ve found bookable online is the Red Beach Hotel via 1st Quest for 1,900,000 IRR ($14.40) per night.
Heading to Kerman next? Don’t miss a visit to the Kaluts Desert
What To Do On Hormuz
All the sites on Hormuz Island can easily be seen in one day, but if you have extra time you’ll really be able to get to some of the most little known gems.
Meandering the narrow alleys of the village is a nice way to spend a morning on the island, appreciating the artwork painted on some of the walls, colorful doors and meeting friendly Homuzians.
A turn off the main island road down a dirt path toward the interior and you’ll find yourself on a short trek to a mountain of petrified salt creating colorful, shining towers and interesting formations.
Just off the main road near to the Salt Mountain you’ll turn off and arrive to salt cave. Bring a flashlight to illuminate the petrified salt and colors that lie beneath.
Solo female? Check out my solo female guide to Iran
Rainbow Mountains & Valley
All the makings of a geologist’s dream and a Persian hippy’s inspiration. The reason this valley and the pointy pinnacles around are so colorful? Layers of volcanic rock laid out unevenly while cooling. A pinkish-red is the predominant color on display but striped with purples, greens, oranges, and even a golden-looking dry river bed.
Valley Of Statues
This stop along the west coast of the island is first marked by Robinson’s Cafe selling coffee, sodas, and sandwiches. A path will bring you past strange rocks shaped by the harsh elements where you can see a dragon, a bird, and more depending on how imaginative you are. Eventually, the trail gives way to a viewpoint overlooking the sea and Mofanegh Beach with red, orange, and pink swirls that meander into the turquoise sea backed by vertical cliffs.
This is the beach mentioned above, viewable from above at Valley of Statues. This is a great beach to set up camp for the evening if you’ve come with your own camping gear.
Starting in Tehran? Plan the perfect two day visit to Tehran
Continuing into the southwest corner of Hormuz Island you’ll find even more lunar-looking mountains, but these ones? Looking dusted in snow. It’s the most peculiar feeling peddling a bicycle uphill, sweating under a black dress in 30ºC heat in April to be surrounded by jagged mountains dusted in what looks like snow. What gives the snow appearance? An abundance of salt.
Not long before you round the road toward the south shore of the island the road turns the most vibrant red– like neon, Mars on crack, Rihanna’s hair in ’10 red, which should give you a slight indicator of what’s coming ahead. A turn off the road and a switchback down you’ll arrive at a small lot with a few vendors selling snacks and drinks. What lies below is a beach of shimmering silvery-black sands swirled with orange and reds that descends into a sea of bright red before dissipating into the cerulean seas.
On the southeast corner of Hormuz there’s a short peninsula jutting out into the sea and viewpoint just near it that you can admire the turquoise seas and interesting cliff formations backing it. On the opposite side of the peninsula you’ll find a nice golden sand beach with an interesting “Hole in the Rock” formation.
Headed to the desert oasis of Yazd on your Iran trip? Plan a perfect two day stay in Yazd
Just inland from the above mentioned overlook of the cool beach backed by funky cliff formations a dirt path snakes off the main ring road around the island. You’ll park your tuk-tuk or bicycle just off the road and hike down a sandy path a little way to arrive at a colorful opening to a cave. Once inside be prepped to be impressed. Striations of vibrant yellow-greens, purples, oranges, and reds make the interior of this cave look like something straight out of an acid trip. Mohamed, who introduced me to the cave had said that it had only been discovered in the last 4 months (not sure if it’s for sure true, but I only saw one other group of Iranian visitors enter one of the two different days I visited it).
Located in the village, just north of the port this red stone Portuguese sea fort can be easily visited on foot from your guesthouse (or on your way out if doing a day trip). There is an 150,000 IRR ($1.15) entrance fee.
Dr. Ahmad Nadalian’s Museum & Art Gallery
This art gallery and museum sits right in the middle of the village and has artwork painted on the walls guiding you up to the entrance. Here you’ll find some of Dr. Ahmad Nadalian’s sand paintings and more on display. The project goes on to fund women’s art training in Hormuz. There is an entrance fee of 70,000 IRR (0.55¢).
Where To Eat In Hormuz
My favorite was a falafel (I may have an addiction) shop called Cafe Barcelon. They have a small table out front that you can sit and eat at. It’s very popular with the locals. Another favorite meal was a home cooked one from my guesthouse of shrimp and rice.
There is a scattering of cafes in the village to choose from as well as serving up simple Iranian food. A cafe at the port (there are two dome-shaped buildings, actually, yhe near is a cafe and the far one is a bicycle rental) that has delicious tahini and date shakes.
For those planning to prepare their own meals, there is a larger supermarket on the corner of the main roundabout in town and there are also a couple of shops selling fresh produce in the village.
Important Hormuz Island Info
- The language spoken in Hormuz is a dialect of Farsi, though it is similar enough you’ll be able to get the gist if you understand some Farsi.
- The Iranian Rial is used here just like everywhere in Iran. At the time of visit in April 2019, the exchange rate was fluctuating between 120,000-140,000 IRR to $1 USD. I’ve included prices in dollars in parentheses.
- There are no ATMs on Hormuz. Plan to carry cash. There also are not any exchange desks either.
- If you have a sim card you’ll have 3g sporadically around the island. Data seemed to work best in the village.
- La pausa, or siesta is a common thing in these sweltering hot parts of Iran. The village nearly shuts down from 2 pm-5 pm.
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