Hormuz – The Rainbow Island of Iran

For practicalities on visiting Hormuz island and things to do in Hormuz, scroll to the end of this post. 

Hormuz island is officially my favourite place in the world. I first visited this magical rainbow coloured gem in 2016 when I was hitchhiking across Iran. I had met my Persian Princess and we had fallen in love. It was on this awesome island, whilst camping out beneath the stars, that we made the commitment to try and stay together, despite the incredible cultural, financial and passport-related challenges that lay ahead…

Rainbow island of iran
Me and Nina in Hormuz in 2018

Photos from our recent adventure to Hormuz in 2018

adventure to hormuz finding camping spots
Our friend Haji, helping us find some sick ass camping spots.
adventure to hormuz red road to hidden beaches
Following the red road to hidden beaches
adventure to hormuz popular hang out for artists
Hormuz is a popular hang out for artists, note the eyes…
adventure to hormuz gorgeous beach
A gorgeous beach, but how to get down there?
adventure to hormuz hunting for a place to camp
Hunting for a place to camp
adventure to hormuz
adventure to hormuz heading deeper into the island
Nina heading deeper into the island
adventure to hormuz search of crystals
In search of crystals
adventure to hormuz artsy photos
Look Mum! I can do artsy photos!
adventure to hormuz rainbow valley
The rainbow valley
adventure to hormuz  stunning scenery
Simply stunning scenery
adventure to hormuz glittering beach
A glittering beach of silver and red sand
adventure to hormuz rock formations
Epic rock formations
adventure to hormuz salt cave
Nina exploring a salt cave
adventure to hormuz melting rocks
Melting rocks and trippy vibes
adventure to hormuz scarf on the wind
Scarf on the wind
adventure to hormuz portuguese fort
Exploring the Portuguese fort
adventure to hormuz underground chapel
The underground chapel
adventure to hormuz art centre
A happy kid outside the art centre
adventure to hormuz incredible art work
Dr. Ahmad Nadalian’s incredible art work
adventure to hormuz trousers
adventure to hormuz  art centre entrance
The entrance to the art centre
adventure to hormuz artist painted our campsite
An artist painted our campsite, complete with tent.
adventure to hormuz setting up for the night
Setting up for the night
adventure to hormuz setting up
It could be bigger…
adventure to hormuz setting up
Girl, it gonna be so big.
adventure to hormuz
Potentially too big.
adventure to hormuz sauron
adventure to hormuz sparks on the wind
Sparks on the wind
adventure to hormuz happy place
Beach + tent + girl = my happy place.
adventure to hormuz making tea
Nina making tea in the morning
adventure to hormuz active roots promo
Cheeky Active Roots promo
hippy adventure day
Time for another hippy adventure day
adventure to hormuz dry river bed
Exploring a dry river bed
adventure to hormuz friendly local girl
A friendly local girl
adventure to hormuz martian 1
Martian 1 reporting for duty.
adventure to hormuz gorgeous colours
Gorgeous colours… red, blue, yellow and silver sands
adventure to hormuz another fire
Time for another fire
adventure to hormuz tent on day 4
Our tent on day 4

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The Story from our first visit to Hormuz in 2016

I awoke with a jolt, the ferry pulling into the small harbour of Hormuz island, as the local Iranian passengers begin preparing to disembark, some unfurling umbrellas to fend off the scorching rays of the sun.

Within moments, the ferry is empty, the locals scrambling across the concrete jetty in search of shade. I grab my pack and the huge pop-up tent I had been gifted by an Iranian couchsurfer and follow Nina, my adventure buddy, into the small town of Hormuz.

The town is tiny, a collection of simple buildings and two or three shops selling basic supplies. We stock up on food and water and pull out a map; whilst the town is nice, this is not why we are here.

Hormuz island is a special place, this is a geological wonderland…

Hormuz Island Iran, Red Road

Soon, a local Hormuz man approaches and asks me and Nina if we need a ride. The roads are red, unpaved, similar to something out of Mad Max (the greatest movie of all time), and our new friend, Hajji, leads us to his vehicle.

It is pimped out, we jump in and he smiles at me, speaking very little English, as I point at my map, showing him the place I think I want to go. We hit the road, red dust spewing into the air as we leave the small town and head out into the sun-scorched, rainbow landscapes of Hormuz.

It is the single most exhilarating drive of my life.

On all sides, mountains of red, purple, yellow and blue explode into the sky like impossible rocky mushrooms.

Bands of colour zig and zag in impossible patterns, local fishermen pull in their catch of the day as the sun bounces low over the water, sizzling sands beginning to cool as the heat of the day recedes.

Hajji drops us in a spot I am not going to reveal and we follow a rocky track, our packs upon our backs until we reach a stunning golden beach of multicoloured sands.

Patches of silver sparkle like glitter as the waves rush in and I cannot help myself, I dump my stuff and run to the water, wading into the cool refreshing waves of the Persian Gulf.

I run back to Nina, spinning her around, her hijab flying free, there is nobody else on this beach, we have it all to ourselves.

Hormuz Island Iran, on the beach

The sun begins to set and I pitch the tent, gather firewood and build a small stone fireplace to block out the worst of the wind. We sit on the sand, sharing a bottle, and cook dinner with the use of sticks… which frequently catch fire.

Hormuz Island Iran, Making fire
Man. Make. Fire.

The moon appears from behind a pillar of rock, illuminating the scene.

There is a purple tint to the air, the sky is an electric blue punctuated with pinpricks of light, a million stars.

A full moon, a perfect beach, a hot Iranian chick, dinner sizzling away, dazzling sands… It was all very romantic.

We sleep on the sand, a single sleeping bag thrown over the top of us.

The next day, the exploring begins…

Hormuz Island Iran, Silver Sand
The perfect place to find amazing stones…
Hormuz island Iran, Silver looking sand
Sands speckled with glitter…
Hermit crabs in Hormuz island Iran
Hermit crabs and even the occasional turtle can be found on the beaches
caves in Hormuz island Iran
Huge and mysterious caves leading into the centre of the earth
caves in Hormuz island Iran
The echo of distant waves within this dark and cool refuge from the sun
colorful cliffs in Hormuz Island Iran
Red, yellow and purple stained cliffs…
colorful road in Hormuz Island Iran
Leaving the beach, we take to the red-dust road…
Hormuz Island Iran, Red Dust Road
The sun beats down, we search for shade…
Deers running free in Hormuz Island Iran
Leaving the road, we follow the deer into Hormuz interior…
Walking down Hormuz Island Iran
This is the real Hormuz, a geological wonderland…
Splash of Colors in Hormuz Island Iran
A place of Tolkien-esque rock formations and dinosaur eggs…
Looking over Hormuz Island Iran
Psychedelic vibes…
Persian Dancing in Hormuz Island Iran
A place where Persian hippies come to explore…
Backpacking in Hormuz Island Iran
The colours here are simply impossible to capture on my shitty camera. Hormuz needs to be seen to be believed.
Salt Crystals in Hormuz Island Iran
This is not snow – these are crystals.
Salt Crystal in Hormuz island
Endless fields of salt crystals…
Salt Crystals in Hormuz Island Iran
Insane patterns… roots covered with salt.
Persian Chick looking over salt crystals in Hormuz island Iran
A Persian nomad stands proudly surveying her homeland…
Sunset in Hormuz Island Iran
With the sun beginning to set, we return to the beach to soak in a perfect sunset…

The Island of Hormuz – A Backpacking Guide

To get to Hormuz, you will need to take a ferry from Bander Abbas or Qeshm – both of these places have airports and Bander Abbas also has rail-links to much of Iran.

It is possible to see much of the island of Hormuz in just one day by car but this is definitely not the way to go.

I strongly recommend bringing a tent to Hormuz island and camping for at least a few days; there are a few spots, some on the beaches and some in the valleys where you can camp out. I camped in Hormuz a week on both occasions and could have easily stayed longer.

There are a couple of shops on the island where you can buy basic supplies and, crucially, gas canisters for cooking stoves. It is well worth bringing a stove with you – especially if you are on a budget as your main cost in Hormuz is likely to be transfers to and from your campsite.

There are now some homestays and basic rooms where you can stay in the village. After a long night of partying on my birthday, me and Nina wanted a proper afternoon’s sleep (it’s too hot on the beach during the day to survive in a tent) so we went to Ashpazkhune Jafari (Khondegh) – you can contact them here on Instagram or by using this number – 0098-9179393720

They have A.C Rooms available from $11 – $15 – we stayed in the ‘honeymoon suite’.

honeymoon suite
Enjoying the honeymoon suite in a local restaurant.

If you camp; it is essential that you take all of your rubbish with you, this is a truly special place – do not trash it.

Hormuz island gets unbelievably hot during midday; this is a good time to either hole up in some shade or to pop into town to eat lunch; I only ever found one place called “Sofre khune Khale”, along the seafront, that serves food. In 2018, we found several other places serving food.

Ideally, the best time to visit Hormuz is in winter.

Whilst camping, be sure to have essential supplies – namely water! – with you; it really is a bitch to walk into Hormuz town to get stuff.

Walking into town can take a very long time and there is sometimes hardly any traffic at all; when you do see a vehicle it is very easy to hitch a ride but you can’t count on coming across one.

There is very little wood in Hormuz and you will struggle to collect enough to have a decent fire however some locals do sell wood – 15,000 for a big bundle that will last about 90 minutes – so ask around and you might be in luck.

Haji is reliable and although he speaks very little English he knows Hormuz island well and is able to sort you out with anything you need. He charges fair rates, you can reach him at 0098-9367651669  (you can also reach him on this number on the Telegram app). 

You will want to hire a driver to take you on a round the island tour – it’s a big island and would take serious time to walk around. I recommend camping out and exploring for a few days but also definitely recommend splashing out on a day tour so that you can see the best of the island; Haji charges around $50 – $60 for a day and this is fair.

You should definitely visit the incredible River Art studio in town, run by my friend, the friendly and talented Dr. Ahmad Nadalian. This incredible initiative aims to provide free art training and education to all of the women upon the island, thus providing them with a wonderful opportunity to create art and earn some money on the side by selling handicrafts to tourists.

You can pick up a free map, super handy, of the island at the River Art Studio.

Hormuz is a tough place to eke out a living, please do consider buying some artworks or souvenirs from the ladies outside the Portuguese fort or at the art studio.

You can contact Dr. Ahmad Nadalian here: [email protected]

Hormuz is an amazing place… I wish you luck on your backpacking adventure across Iran!

Epic Backpacker Tours is Taking Bookings! • Experience EPIC

Solo Travel v.s. Group Tours in Iran

Traveling solo in Iran is a truly rewarding experience, but for some people, the country seems like a challenge to tackle alone. Iran is a country with heaps to see and do, but experiencing the best, lesser-known about places and communities not found on the typical tourist trail requires some local knowledge and insider connections. 

In March 2020, we are planning to run a brand new Epic Backpacker Tours trip in Iran to help adventurers get the most out of this spectacular country in a short amount of time.

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you probably know that in 2016, I met my wife Nina in Iran, and have been exploring every corner of the country ever since. 

Nina and my love of Iran, as well as our unique insider knowledge and contacts within the country, came together to devise this EPIC Iranian adventure itinerary that connects foreign backpackers with authentic adventure and cultural experiences. This Iran adventure itinerary is the product of years of on the ground research and is led by our expert guide, Pedro Ricardo Dias. Pedro has been leading adventures in Iran for years and knows this magical country extremely well… 

Thanks for reading – that was fun! 😀

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