5 Incredible Things To Do in Qeshm | Iran

by Vanessa Wanders Miles
Iranian man at the port of Hara Mangrove - Things to do in Qeshm

Fisherman at Hara Port

Qeshm, the largest island in the Persian Gulf, is one of the most delightful parts of Iran. The island is dolphin-shaped and packed with natural, geological history and a wonderful variety of wildlife. It also has a fascinating human history and diverse culture thanks to the influences of invading Dutch, French and Portuguese communities.

With so many things to do in Qeshm, it is an awesome place to visit. Here is what I squeezed into a quick weekend on Qeshm Island.

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The island, situated in the Strait of Hormuz off the coast of Iran, is vast. It is bigger than either Singapore or Bahrain and has a population of 120,000 with 17,000 living in the capital Tabl. The people live mainly a traditional Bandari way of life and earn money from trading, handicrafts and fishing in the ‘dhow’ style of boat used here for centuries. Visiting Qeshm is like finding yourself transported back to the gulf of many years ago, before oil. Camels are vital to the people of Qeshm and there are as many camels living on the island as there are people.

The history of how the island was formed and the effect this has on the appearance of the area has led to it being named a UNESCO Global Geopark. Qeshm is part of the huge Zagros mountain range which was formed during a huge buckling and folding of the earth’s crust. The sites of geological interest on the island have been protected, and preserved and are now increasingly under the care of local communities educated and trained by UNESCO.

Wanders Miles in Fallen Star Valley, Qeshm

Fallen Star Valley, Qeshm


Watch birds in Hara Mangrove Forest

A day trip to the Hara Mangrove forests on Qeshm is a chance to immerse yourself in a fairy tale land of underwater trees, peace, calm waters and bird song. The Avicennia Marina tree, known locally as the Hara Tree thrives in the saltwater of the mangroves and provides a habitat for a multitude of birds, 220 species, in fact, a twitchers paradise!  Herons, flamingos and pelicans are a common sight. An array of reptiles and other strange creatures can also be found in this other-worldly sea wood.

Bird watching in the Hara Mangroves in Qeshm, IranFishing boats at the port of Hara Mangrove in Qeshm, Iran

The mangroves have been a biosphere protected by the government since 1972. The forests are precious ecological areas as both the birds and fish use them as a nursery for their young.

Access is restricted to local shrimp fishing boats and limited tourist tugs. The best way to fully appreciate the area is by boat but choose your times carefully as low tide is when you will get the full effect of the Hara trees emerging from the water.

Fisherman in the Hara Mangroves in Qeshm Island

Fisherman in the Hara Mangroves, Qeshm Island


Hear the legend of Fallen Star Valley

This part of Qeshm, near the village of Berkeh Khalaf, is simply stunning. Locals will tell you that the Fallen Star Valley came into being centuries ago when a falling star crashed into the earth and that the maze of ravines and towers is haunted by the voices of ghosts. Stunning and eerie, The Valley of the Fallen Stars is truly breathtaking.

The rock formations were actually created by weather erosion on the rock with different levels of softness and the spirit-like echoes are just the effect of wind tunnels but I much prefer the romantic version. Standing on the plateau with the vast crevasses below glowing with warmth and the failing light from a gorgeous sunset is something I will never forget.

Beautiful sunset at the Valley of Fallen Stars on Qeshm IslandVisit Qeshm to see the Valley of Fallen Stars

Explore Namakdan Salt Cave

Another of Qeshm’s geological marvels is the salt cave at Namakdan. (Namak means salt in Persian) Unlike millennia-old limestone caves, a salt cave is a living, moving creation that changes with every rainfall. Simultaneously dynamic and fragile the architecture of a salt cave can evolve and be destroyed before your eyes.

Outside the entrance to the Namakdan Salt Cave on Qeshm island, Iran

Namakdan Salt Cave on Qeshm island

This cave was discovered in 1997 on a red hot day by Czech students and their professor and is considered to be the largest in the world at 6850 metres long. However, only the first 100-200 metres of the cave are accessible to the public as a caving experience is necessary for deeper exploration.

Visitors might find themselves crawling through the tunnels of colourful salt crystals, being invited to lick the walls and investigate this amazing place by torchlight. The beaches near the cave are very beautiful too and are definitely worth factoring into the length of any day trip.

Entrance to Namakdan Salt Cave in Qeshm, IranInside the worlds longest salt cave called Namakdan Salt Cave in Qeshm

Wander around Chahkuh Valley

Chahkuh Valley is in the north-western part of Qeshm and is easily accessible from nearby Table Village. It is absolutely worth a visit, especially on quieter days when it is possible to really appreciate the feeling of serenity as you wander through the maze of cliffs and towers.

Rock formations in Chahkuh Valley - one of Qeshm’s protected geo-parks

Rock formations in Chahkuh Valley


The Ivory walls of the gorge are a fantastic example of a natural structure formed by heavy rain and flash floods. The movement of tectonic plates has also influenced the unusual rock formations which appear to have been carved by a visionary sculptor rather than the force of the elements.

Chahkuh is another of Qeshm’s protected geo-parks and visitors are strictly forbidden from graffitiing or damaging the cliff faces. Local communities ingeniously use the distinctive natural holes and pockets in the valley’s rock as wells. Water is not absorbed into the cliff so it is stored and cooled in there ready to be used in the dry season. Nature is both an artist and an engineer in this beautiful valley. And we were more than happy for this hero to throw the water over our heads to cool down!

Tall rock formations in the gorge of Chahkuh Valley on Qeshm IslandMan pulling water up from the natural well in Chahkuh Valley in Qeshm
Natural corridor at the Chahkuh Valley - Top things to do on Qeshm Island

Natural corridor at the Chahkuh Valley

Take a boat trip to Hengam Island

Hengam Island is tiny but so worth a visit. It sits a couple of kilometres south of Qeshm and is packed with beauty and the opportunity for fun. There are gorgeous silver beaches to relax on, a safe, clean sea to swim in and the local seafood is divine.

Dolphins by Hengam Island near Qeshm, Iran
Snorkelling amongsth the fish off Hengam Island near Qeshm, Iran

Many tourists come to Hengam for the excellent scuba diving on the coral reefs and shipwrecks just offshore. To be honest the short boat trip from Shibderaz port was exciting enough for me. We were treated to the glorious sight of dolphins swimming close to the boat. Early mornings are best to catch the dolphins at play….this is perfect as you then get the whole day to explore and hopefully see the rest of the local wildlife. Hengam is home to tropical birds, gazelles and turtles.

The people of the island are friendly and welcoming. We were invited by a local family to join them for a feast on the beach. The food was just delicious and their hospitality was really heart-warming.Iranian ladies cooking on Hengam Island Iranian ladies cooking on Hengam Island


Visa-Free Zone

Tourists who only intend to visit Qeshm need not apply for a visa. Stays are limited to two weeks however an extension of up to six months is usually fairly easily arranged.

How to get to Qeshm

There is an International Airport in Dayrestan which is 43km from the tourist hub of Qeshm Town. Flights operate regularly to and from both Tehran Mehrabad airport, there are the occasional flights to and from Dubai.

Ferries operate to and from Qeshm on a regular basis from Bandar Abbas on the mainland.

Currency: Iranian Rial

The Iranian Rial is the official currency of Qeshm. In some places, money is discussed in ‘tomans’. This is not an official term but for reference one ‘Toman’ is equal to ten Rials.

What to wear in Qeshm

One of the loveliest things about visiting Qeshm is admiring the traditional dress of the locals. Tourists should remember that modesty is key, especially for women; long sleeves, covered legs and a hijab are important. Iran is safe to travel as a female, you just need to follow the rules.

Weather in Qeshm

The weather in Qeshm is semi-equatorial. They have nice autumn weather, mild winters and spring times, in summer it tends to get very hot and humid. If your trip involves more exploration than relaxation then pick your times of travel carefully.

Don’t forget travel insurance

Always make travel insurance a priority for any adventure! World Nomads is my go-to guys, I’ve learnt this from experience. You can buy and claim online even when you’ve left home.  I love that they give a little back too and support community development projects in various countries.


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