The Persian Gulf, the third-largest gulf on the earth which is surrounded by seven countries including Iran, is home to several islands, with the majority belonging to this country. This gulf is of high value for Iran due to its crucial political and economic position as it is the world’s largest source of petroleum in addition to its connection with the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean through one of the world’s most essential straits, Hormuz.
However, the significance of the Persian Gulf is not restricted to the mentioned political-economic reasons; this region is also an exceptional tourist destination. Having a diverse range of natural and cultural attractions, the Iranian Islands of the Persian Gulf, attract many tourists from both the country and other parts of the world every year from late September to early April (the best time to visit these islands since the weather is very hot during other months of the year).
Nearly thirty of the Persian Gulf’s islands (both natural and artificial) belong to Iran. Some of these pieces of land are used for military aims only, and some are uninhabited, yet there around seven islands welcoming visitors; including Kish, Qeshm, Hormuz, Hengam, Lavan, Larak and Minoo. And the uninhabited/military Islands are the following: Abbasak, Abu Musa, Buneh, Cheraghi, Dara, Farsi, Forur Bozorg, Forur Koochak, Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, Hendurabi, Jonoubi, Kharg, Kharku, Motaff, Nakhiloo, Om-e-Sile, Ommolkorm (Gorm), Qabre Nakhoda, Rostam, Sadra, Shidvar, Shif, Sirri and Tahmadu (Jabrin).
Being a free trade zone and having a various number of luxurious hotels, beach resorts, shopping malls and recreational spots such as Water Park, Dolphinarium, zoo and etc. Kish is considered as one of the fanciest travel destinations of Iran. While everywhere on the northern hemisphere of the earth is cold, this island provides slightly warm weather for those who need to escape the winter cold and enjoy a beach vacation.
Moreover, this island has also a considerable number of natural and historical attractions including, The Old Greek Ship, The Ancient Harireh City, The Underground Kariz City, The Traditional Twin Cistern, The Gazelles Park and The Coral Beach. Overall taking a trip to Kish Island while visiting Iran could be a good idea if you feel you have had enough of the country’s abundant historical and cultural attractions and you need a luxurious beach break. Flights are available daily from different parts of Iran to Kish, and every day ferries leave from Bandar Abbas, Charak and other ports to the Kish Island.
Much like Kish in terms of climate and weather, Qeshm, the biggest Island of the Persian Gulf, provides tourists with an exceptional nature adventure experience. Here are some of the island’s top natural attractions: Hara Mangrove Forests, Valley of Stars, Chahkooh Canyon, Namakdan the world’s longest salt cave, Khorbas Cave, Qeshm Geo Park and Naz Islands.
Like almost every other part of Iran, this island also has a plentiful of historical spots including; The Portuguese Fortress, The British Cemetry, The Bibi Cistern, Naderi Castle and Laft Tala Wells.
Furthermore, Qeshm is also considered as a shopping destination on account of being a free trade zone and having a lot of traditional and modern shopping malls. There are two significant ways to get to Qeshm Island, first is taking direct flights which are available from different cities of the country, and the second is taking the train to Bandar Abbas port, and then the ferries that are available at Shahid Haqqani Port.
Also known as the rainbow island, Hormuz is a small island near Qeshm, famous for its colourful soil, beautiful beaches, rainbow mountains and mysterious valleys which is a perfect destination for campers, backpackers and those passionate about nature. Some of its most popular attractions are The Red Beach, The Silence Valley, The Valley of Statues, The Portuguese Fortress and Dr Nad-e-Alian Museum, which is Iran’s environmental art museum.
In recent years, due to the increasing number of visitors, several accommodation and hostels have been built on the island, which provides visitors with a taste of local life and experience. The only way to reach Hormuz is by ferries coming from Qeshm Island.
Located in the south of Qeshm Island, Hengam is also rich in natural and traditional attractions. Many tourists come to this island to wander along its silver sand beach, to take a boat ride to watch dolphins, to shop local handicrafts in local bazaars, to eat delicious local seafood and enjoy the tranquillity of an island which almost no vehicle is allowed on its earth. Just like Hormuz, the best way to get to this island is by taking motorboats from Shib Deraz village in Qeshm Island.
Lavan is not as famous as other islands of the Persian Gulf, yet it is the third biggest one after Qeshm and Kish. Lavan is mostly known for its oil reservoirs, intact beaches and exceptional wildlife like the Chinkara Gazelles. Moreover, there is another fascinating island in the Persian Gulf which you can access only through Lavan; it is named Shidvar or Maroo as called by locals.
However, Lavan does not have many visitors; it has excellent facilities and accommodations for tourists instead because of the presence of the oil industry establishments. The best way to get to this island is by taking gas boats from Bandare Moqam port.
Larak is an island with exceptional untouched natural and historical sites including the sand and coral beaches, the salt hills, the wildlife of Gazelles, the Portuguese Fortress, the old Indian Telegraph Station, etc. But the most famous attraction of this island might be the magical blue light on the waves hitting the beach caused by bioluminescent planktons which is visible during the night depending on the sea and weather conditions. Most of the visitors prefer to take a half-day trip to this place. However, if you take the necessary stuff with you, you can camp on its peaceful beach overnight. Taking the ferries from Qeshm Island is the best way to access Larak.
Unlike the other mentioned Islands which all are in the Hormozgan Province, this island belongs to Khuzestan Province of Iran. Minoo Island is located between two of the most famous southern cities of Iran, Khorramshahr and Abadan. Two branches of the Arvand River surround it. This island is mostly known for its palm trees, beautiful beaches, canebrakes and migrating birds that come to the island in winters.
As Minoo is rarely frequented by tourists and most of its visitors are locals coming from neighbouring cities, it might be a little hard to find a place to stay. However, there are some traditional establishments providing tourists service called Mozif (inn, hostel) by the locals. Haj Abdullah Mozif is one of the best places to stay in as it has a beautiful traditional design and architecture, and it serves delicious local food. This island is accessible from both Khoramshahr and Abadan through a steel bridge built-in 1971.
By Nazanin Moayed