Islands don’t usually come to mind when talking about Iran, but in fact, it has several in the Persian Gulf. The largest is dolphin-shaped Qeshm, known as “the island of seven wonders.” Read on to discover 13 reasons why everyone needs to visit this amazing island.

Untouched nature

Caves, canyons, forests, and narrow passes, all untouched and as pure as can be, are waiting to dazzle anyone who can stand the beating sun and humidity. Qeshm is a paradise, particularly for nature lovers. 

Untouched nature

 

Culture

Culture in the southern parts and islands of Iran is unlike the rest of the country. What immediately stands out is the women’s garb. Most women in Qeshm wear two types of niqab, face coverings, which are not for religious purposes, but rather stem from history. One kind resembles thick eyebrows and a mustache from afar; it was a ploy used in the past to trick potential invaders into mistaking women for men. The other is a rectangular embroidered covering that reveals only the eyes and helps protect the face from the wind, sand, and sunburn. Black chadors are a rare sight here, as women opt to wear colorful, floral ones.

Bandari music, or music from southern port cities, also has a unique flavor. It’s very cheerful, commonly played during weddings, and has a distinct dance.

Culture

Culture

 

People

Iranians are ethnically diverse, and a good place to witness this is Qeshm, which also has an Arab and Afro-Iranian population who are descendants of slaves brought here centuries ago or who came to Iran to work as sailors.

People

People

No visa needed

Qeshm is both a duty-free zone and a place where foreign tourists can enter visa-free, making it ideal for those in the Persian Gulf area who want to get a taste of Persian culture and hospitality on a whim.

Seclusion

If you ever feel the need to get away from it all, look no further than Qeshm. Aside from shopping areas crowded with people, you’ll feel as though you have the entire island to yourself. It’s not uncommon to explore the attractions without another soul in sight, and while you’re on the beaches, it’s likely that your only other company will be some camels who have also stopped by for some R&R.

qeshm_island_camels

qeshm_island_camels

Affordability

From attractions to accommodations, Qeshm is quite an affordable place to visit. Some of the attractions are free while others have a small entrance fee. Overall, you’ll find this island to be much more low-cost than other cities in Iran, while at the same time offering sites equally as, if not more, appealing.

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

UNESCO has inscribed the art of building lenj, small, wooden boats, on its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, and the best place to catch a glimpse is the shipyard near the village of Laft. These fishing vessels are in different phases of construction, being painted, or setting out on their maiden voyage.

Cultural Heritage

Cultural Heritage

Mystery

Qeshm is a mysterious locale. The high and low tides of Naz Island are unpredictable, so it’s easy to get stranded at high tide. Hara (mangrove) Forest has a similar phenomenon, and legend has it that Stars Valley is riddled with jinn. In fact, Mani Haghighi’s 2016 film A Dragon Arrives explored some of the mysteries of this island.

Mystery

Mystery

Mystery

 

Local village stays

Local B&Bs and homestays are also available on this island, many of which offer sightseeing services. While hotels are also plentiful, these low-key accommodations may offer a more genuine and unforgettable experience with locals.

Wildlife and marine life

If you set out to Hengam Island early in the morning, you can catch the dolphins who come out to play. A walk around the island brings you face-to-face with native deer who press their hooves into the ground to extract fresh water. The Persian Gulf is full of colorful tropical fish and stingrays, and in Hara Forest, you’ll cross paths with crabs, pelicans, and storks. All along the island, keep an eye out for herds of free-roaming camels who are commonly seen standing along the shore or kneeling in the water and staring out to sea.

 

Wildlife and marine life

Wildlife and marine life

 

Quick getaway to other islands

The sites on this 500-square-mile (1,295-square-kilometer) island can keep you busy, but its proximity to other islands makes it easy to explore other beautiful places such as Hormoz Island, a must-see geological wonderland best known for its Rainbow Valley. It’s also worth hopping on a lenj to Bandar Abbas and getting to know this carefree southern port city.

Quick getaway to other islands

Quick getaway to other islands

Laft Historical Port

Aside from the natural wonders, you won’t want to miss Laft Historical Port on the northern part of the island. Standing on the hill at the top, you’ll view a breathtaking skyline of badgir, or windcatchers, which are more abundant here than in Yazd. Wells and traditional water reservoirs are among the other highlights.

Laft Historical Port

Laft Historical Port

Mosques

The grand mosques of Esfahan, with their intricate tile work, are hardly what you’ll find in Qeshm, where the mosques are on the more simple side. But there lies an important difference you won’t find in most other parts: one minaret. The majority of island natives are Sunni as opposed to Shia Muslims, and their mosques reflect this difference both in their general architecture and in the number of minarets.

 

 

The Hara forest

 

 

The Hara forest the common name for mangrove forests on the southern coast of Iran, particularly on and near the island of Qeshm in the Persian Gulf. Dominated by the species Avecennia marina , known locally as the  ” Hara ” or ” Harra ” tree , the forests represent an important ecological resource. The “Hara protected area” on Qeshm and the nearly main land is a biosphere reserve where commercial use is restricted to fishing (mainly shrimp), tourist boat trips, and limited mangrove cutting for animal feed. Hara tree characteristics
The Hara tree, Avicennia marina, grows to heights of three to eight meters and has bright green leaves and twigs. The tree is salt – water plant that is often submerged at high tide. It usually blossoms and bears fruit from mid July to August, with yellow flowers and a sweet almond – like fruit. The seeds fall into the water, where wave action takes them to more stationary parts of the sea. The Hara seeds become fixed in the soil layers of the sea and grow. The area on the north shore of Qeshm and the neighboring main land is particularly suited to the growth of the plant, and large mangrove – forests have developed . The long , narrow , oval leaves of the tree have nutritious value for livestock roughly equivalent to barley and alfalfa . The roots of the trees are knee – form, aerial, sponge – like and usually external. There is a filtration property in the Hara tree’s bark which allows the plant to absorb water while salt is eliminated .

Forest extent and significance

The Hara forest on Qeshm and opposite mainland covers an area of approximately 20km by 20km, with many tidal channels. The traditional stock breeders of Qeshm Island used the leaves of the Hara tree for feeding livestock. In 1972 the Hara protected area was established to preserve suitable condition for the growth of maintenance of the forests . The area is a major habitat for migratory birds in the cold season and for reptiles , fish , and varieties of arthropoda and bivalves , Green (or hooked) turtles and venomous aquatic snakes are also indigenous to the forests. Bird life includes herons, flamingos, pelicans, and anger eagles. Another important feature of these forests is the appropriate and suitable seabed conditions for the ovulation of fish in the Persian Gulf .

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