Hormuz Island: A Guide To Iran’s Rainbow Island
Updated March 2023, 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.
Truth be told, Hormuz Island was my favorite place I visited on my month-long trip to Iran owing to its unbelievable landscapes smattered in reds, pinks, oranges, greens, and golds, and its wild beaches that you have to see to believe- all of which help secure its nickname of the Rainbow Island of Iran.
Another thing I fell in love with in Hormuz is its laid-back feel- with a population of only about 3,000 people, it’s a great relaxing escape.
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
- Hormuz Village
- The World’s Largest Soil Carpet
- Salt Mountain
- Salt Cave
- Rainbow Mountains & Valley
- Valley Of Statues
- Mofanegh Beach
- Snowy Mountains
- Red Beach
- The Overlook & The Hole In The Rock
- Rainbow Cave
- Portuguese Fort
- Dr. Ahmad Nadalian’s Museum & Art Gallery
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.
- 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 $2-3 USD and between Hormuz and Qeshm will cost around $3 USD. Note that the Iran Rial fluctuates wildly, so I am giving prices in dollars for simplicity’s sake.
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 Island
Tuk Tuks on 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 $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 in Hormuz
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 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 Island
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!
Personally, I spent four solid days on Hormuz Island and felt it was enough time to see the sites around the island- though I definitely could have stayed an entire week without getting bored. Given Hormuz’s sleepy and slower-paced nature I recommend taking in the island at a more leisurely pace if your itinerary allows it.
Where To Stay On Hormuz
Hormuz Island Guesthouses
Several local families rent out rooms of their homes for about $7-10 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).
Hormuz Island Hotels
For those of you that like to plan ahead, the only accommodation I’ve found bookable online is the Red Beach Hotel via 1st Quest for $14 per night.
Mohamed, the tuk-tuk driver I mentioned previously in this post can help make guesthouse arrangements on Hormuz Island too if you’d like to plan ahead of your arrival.
Camping on Hormuz Island
A popular option, especially among local Iranian travelers is to camp around on Hormuz. It’s possible to camp most everywhere on Hormuz, with the beaches being quite popular. Just make sure you’re not setting up camp on someone’s private property, and if so, ask to make sure it’s okay.
Heading to Kerman next? Don’t miss a visit to the Kaluts Desert
Best Things To Do On Hormuz Island
All the breathtaking and mind-blowing 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.
The World’s Largest Soil Carpet
As you depart from Hormuz Village to the southwest (circumnavigating Hormuz Island counterclockwise) you will pass a long beach to your right. On this long beach, you will find the dulled remains of Damahi, the world’s largest soil carpet at 1,400 square meters in size.
Soil carpets are a tradition on Hormuz Island that date back over a thousand years- usually created at festival times using the colorful soils Hormuz Island is blessed with.
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.
Because of the breathtaking nature of Hormuz’s Salt Mountain and because it’s typically one of the first wonders of Hormuz Island that most visitors reach after arrival, the area is nicknamed Silence Valley with the mountain being called the Salt Goddess- as you will see the valley is usually found completely quiet as people visiting are left nearly speechless.
Note that as of my most recent return in November 2022, the road to the Salt Mountain has been damaged and is not accessible at the moment.
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? Appear to be 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 (for this reason you’ll also see this beach referred to as “Silver Beach”) swirled with orange and reds that descends into a sea of bright red before dissipating into the cerulean seas.
The Overlook & The Hole In The Rock
On the southeast corner of Hormuz, there’s a short peninsula jutting out into the sea and a viewpoint just near it where 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).
Have more time for the south of Iran? Continue east to beautiful Sisitan & Balochistan Province
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 approximately $1 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 around 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 (maygoo and birinj is the name in Farsi).
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, the 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. The currency is extremely unstable, hence why I’ve given prices in dollars instead. At the time of my last visit (November 2022) the exchange rate was hovering around 360,000 IRR to $1 USD.
- 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.
Need Travel Insurance for Iran?
Start shopping plans over at 1st Quest.
4 thoughts on “Hormuz Island: A Guide To Iran’s Rainbow Island”
Glad you are promoting iran…very nice of you and hopefully enough people open their mind to learn the difference between government and everyday people…
Iran was definitely one of my favorite destinations I’ve visited. I hope that people can see past the government too and that Iranian people are some of the kindest people around
Whoa, this island is insane! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and unusual place with us Nicole 🙂
Hormuz was a surprise, even for me! It’s among the coolest islands I’ve ever stepped foot