Hormuz – The Rainbow Island of Iran

hormuz the rainbow island of Iran

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 Esme, 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 Esme 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, Sajjad, 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.

Sajjad 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 Esme, 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

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 and could have easily stayed longer.

I heard that it was possible to stay in one of the local homes’s in Hormuz town but I was unable to investigate this further; possibly Sajjad could arrange this but I recommend camping – it’s the most incredible camping site in the world.

If you do 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.

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 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.

Sajjad 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. After spending five days on the beach I wanted a shower and he was good enough to let me use his home, he even cooked dinner for us. He helps out tourists in exchange for payment and charges fair rates, just be sure to agree on a price beforehand. You can reach him on +989175074432

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

Want to learn how to travel the world on $10 a day? Check out the Broke Backpacker’s Bible…

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  • Teacake says:

    Freaking awesome photos Will! REAL adventure dude!

  • Beautiful photos man!!! Iran sure has a lot of hidden wonders ready to be explored 😀
    Raphael Alexander The Man of Wonders recently posted…The free Tuk-Tuk scam of Bangkok: How to turn a scam artist into your allyMy Profile

  • Jenna says:

    Looks enchanting! Those photos are stellar!

  • Anastassia says:

    Hello, how often do ferries from Bandar Abbas go to this fabulous island?

  • Laura says:

    It’s great that Iran is starting to get more positive coverage away from the mainstream media. But please be aware that you need to be sensitive about the information you share on the internet (about people and places) as the Iranian authorities are actually monitoring these things. For us travellers, going to isolated places where Iranians reclaim their freedom away from the authorities is super exciting and we want to tell the world about it. But we should be careful to not destroy those safe havens for our Iranian friends. They may be a great travel story for us, but they are vital for them. One of my friends told me that some places (including Hormuz) are now regularly monitored by police because of travellers writing about them. Having a good time is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous for Iranians and I think there are ways to tell a good story without openly giving away names and locations 😉

    I enjoyed your articles otherwise, but I think those are things you should bear in mind when writing about a country like Iran.

    • Will Hatton says:

      I understand where you are coming from and I wrestled long and hard about whether or not to promote Hormuz but, after talking to several Iranian friends, I was encouraged to write about Hormuz. My objective is to continue to promote Iran as an incredible destination, to improve relations between Iran and the outside world and to show people online that Iran is not ‘just a sandbox’ and is, in fact, one of the most colourful, diverse, welcoming and beautiful countries in the world.

      I hope you will forgive my decision on this occasion 🙂

  • Bahram says:

    On picture of a woman, It should be titled “local woman”, as nomad means people who migrate from place to place.

  • Mohammad says:

    Hi to everyone.It’s really good to hear that you had a great time in my country (Actually any foreign tourist has a great time here).I read what Laura said,but i think i have a point to contrast with her.I haven’t heard anything about monitoring or these stuff,I think it’s just a simple misunderstanding,but i’d liked to share something about the conflict between my country and the rest of the world.After the 1978 revolution, the states lost his greatest ally,not only in the middle east,but also in the world,and my country became the most dangerous country(or threat as they say) to Americans safety(Don’t want to be rude but that’s bu**it).Since 1978, they have been trying everything to change the regime,to weaken the people,to bring us to our knees.They don’t tell people what the hell they have done to us for years(including the 8-year-war between us and Iraq when Iraq was being supported by about 30 countries including the U.S,France,the U.K, etc,murdering our scientists,sanctions and so on)but they try to show a terrorism-supporter picture of us.How can a country be supporting terrorists when more than two thousands of its people have sacrificed their lives protecting the innocent and fighting those terrorists?Did they ever told you these?i don’t think so.Anyway,hope you tell your friends and families to come to and visit my country.

    • Will Hatton says:

      Hey Mohammad, you raise a valid point amigo – Iran is a beautiful, really very friendly and safe, country that has been demonised by the media. Luckily though, people realise that there is more to Iran than the news portrays 🙂

  • Shayan says:

    Hi , my name is Shayan ,
    i’m from Bandar Abbas port , the main and biggest port in south of Iran , you should travell to Hormoz Island from my town , i’m very happy you liked my country , specially Hormoz Island.

    I do believe beautifulness , greatness and humanity have nothing to do with politics or religion , i believe history tells us everything.

    Hope to see you again in Iran.

  • Zahra says:

    wonderfullllllllllllll photos!!!
    -it really made me happy that you had enjoyable time in my country
    every part of Iran is really beautiful specialy bandar abbas and Persian golf

  • three star suites hotel with best price in Hormuz island.
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