Within the depths of the Persian Gulf – an otherworldly island of intrigue awaits. Hormuz Island, also referred to as Rainbow Island, is a technicolor dreamscape of captivating curiosities.

Exploring Iran can be a mystical yet daunting experience. While Hormuz Island might not be the typical choice while visiting Iran, the terrain is a unique off-the-radar experience.

Therefore, it can seem intimidating to navigate the colorful tapestry of the island with its uncertainties.

This helpful guide will equip you to venture off the beaten path with confidence. Dive head-first into the mystifying characteristics and elements of this strange, but beautiful paradise. 

Where is Hormuz Island Located?

This Iranian island is located between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Forming part of the Hormozgan Province, the island is located 8 km (approx. 5 miles) from the coast of Iran.

The only permanent settlement on the island is the small village of Hormuz, which is teeming with fascinating structures and interesting culture.

The Surroundings – Hormuz Island Explained

Pondering the dreamy landscapes of Hormuz Island, one thought will persist – how does this exist? It’s almost like a landscape puzzle!

The mystical wonderland is seemingly out of the scope of science and reason. There is, however, an explanation for its unique elements.

The Mysteries of Rainbow Island, Iran – Why is the Water Red?

Red Beach Hormuz Island, Iran

Also referred to as the “tide of blood,” Hormuz Island’s red water is known for its curious, colorful tinted tides.

In places where the red soil is deeper in color, it changes the tone of the water to a pinkish shade. This phenomenon can be identified on Hormuz’s Red Beach.

The red earth, also known as red ochre, that encapsulates many parts of this island has a high concentration of iron oxide. The soil has been used as a key contributor to various production processes, such as dyeing, ceramics, and even cosmetics.

Golak, an indigenous term for the red soil, is often also used in food and art production on the island.

Why Do Some Parts of the Island Have a Variety of Colorful Soil?

The red soil and water of Hormuz are not the only strange natural occurrences. Within the geological structure of Hormuz Island, there are a variety of elements in play.

The copious amounts of volcanic ash, salt, clay, and shale in the ground of the island create a variety of shades in its foundation.

Hormuz Island Soil in Iran

Merely walking around the island is an unforgettable experience, as the ground shifts in color in various parts. The most common structure of this layered kaleidoscope of the terrain is the Rainbow Valley.

Traveling to Rainbow Island, Iran – How to Get There

Before embarking on your journey to the island, it is important to note that you can only get there by ferry.

There are two destinations where you can take a ferry to Hormuz, namely Qeshm Island (Shahid Zakeri Port) and Bandar Abbas (Shahid Haghani Port).

It’s important to note that there are a variety of time slots that can be chosen to travel to Hormuz Island, Iran.

The ferry from Bandar Abbas runs to and from Hormuz island quite regularly. It runs several times a day, so it is easy to visit Hormuz as a day trip by taking the early morning ferry and returning on an afternoon/evening ferry to Bandar Abbas.

The ferry takes approximately 40 minutes each way.

While times might change, boats to Hormuz island leave at 6:15, 9:00, 12:00, 14:00, 17:00, and 21:30. Return boats leave at 7:00, 10:00, 13:30, 15:30, and 19:00. (Double check these departure times while in Bandar Abbas)

Rainbow Island Sunset in Iran

Ferries also leave from Qeshm Island at 7:00 and 14:00, with the last return to Qeshm from Hormuz being at 15:00. (again, check these departure times while at Qeshm)

The ferry takes around 60 minutes each way.

Tickets to either ferry route can be purchased at the ferry terminal.

Whether you are planning a day trip or spending the night, make sure you know the departure and return times to avoid any loss of time or logistical issues.

Getting Around

Far from the hustle and bustle of city life, Hormuz Island has no public transport available.

The most popular mode of transportation is the humble tuk-tuk, also known as a rickshaw. With ample space to absorb the surroundings while you travel, a rickshaw is a perfect way to explore this peculiar realm.

This is also the best option if you’re planning to tour with a few travelers, as the tuk-tuk accommodates about 6-8 people.

Motorbikes and bikes are also available to rent if you prefer to navigate the island by yourself. As the island is relatively small in size, you can always choose to travel the old-fashioned way on foot.

The People of Hormuz Island

Rainbow Island Market, Iran

Keeping with the trend of small island inhabitants, fishing is seen as an essential practice in Hormuz. Traditional and minimalist living is the norm amongst these parts.

Most seafood dishes are prepared with the red ochre of the island, which is seen as an important seasoning ingredient.

Salt harvesting is also seen as an important practice due to the large quantity of salt available on the island. This shows how every resource is utilized on the island and in many cases, the local residents’ livelihood depends on it.

Where to Stay

If you plan on staying the night on the island, it’s important to note a few details. While Rainbow Island may have gathered an increased interest from adventure vacationers, accommodation is quite limited.

A few hostels and guesthouses with a traditional style can be booked, ranging from $6-$20 a night. These quaint structures are delightfully authentic, so expect a minimalist overnight experience.

If sleeping on the ground isn’t your thing, consider taking a camping mat or a thicker sleeping pad to make your stay more comfortable. If you prefer to live the bold lifestyle of a nomad, camping is also a popular option. Just find a spot and set up shop.

Hormuz Island Nature in Iran

Unsure how to pull this off? Firstly, make sure you have the right gear and the correct backpack that will suit this type of adventure.

You can book a hostel at 1stQuest or HostelWorld (not many options are available on the island).

You can also choose to play it by ear and book something after you arrive (to maybe save some money), but you run the risk of not finding a place to sleep since there are not many options available.

Iranians are extremely friendly, so you could potentially find a local home to crash for the night or at least have a meal.

Or you could stay at Bandar Abbas, which is the largest town closest to Hormuz Island (also written as Hormoz on some websites). There you’ll find more accommodation options.

1stQuest can also help you book other things like flights, visas, buses, travel insurance, and more. They are a great one-stop-shop for everything Iran!

Things to do in Hormuz Island

The island is truly a geographic playground, bespeckled with awe-inspiring natural and cultivated surroundings. An added bonus is that most of the unmissable activities are free or very budget-friendly.

The unusual elements of the Rainbow Island in Iran, a beach with beguiling properties among others, are definitely worth the trip. From scarlet sand to salty burrows, you’ll be spoiled for choice by the captivating environment.

Walk Along the Red Beach of Hormuz Island

Red Beach Rainbow Island, Iran

Experience the world through rose-colored glasses at the red-tinted hues of this sandy haven. The crown jewel of this region is the Hormuz Island Red Beach, and it’s easy to see why.

With rippling red waves and mars-like surroundings, this beach appears to be straight out of a fever dream.

Easily the most popular attraction of Rainbow Island, its beach sand among the bluffs ranges from normal, to reddish, to glittering black-grey in appearance. This swirl of changing soil pigmentation provides a fresh take on any traditional beach outing.

Explore the Colorful Domes of Hormuz Village

Constructed to empower the local community, these egg-like structures are an oddity that needs to be experienced.

The project is called ‘Presence in Hormuz’ by ZAV Architects, who constructed a series of multipurpose urban developments in the village. The various colors of the domes mimic the hues of the island soil.

The structures are created out of sandbags using the sand from the region, demonstrating a visual celebration of the island’s culture.

Enjoy the Art of the Nadalian Museum

The owner and main exhibitor of the museum is Dr. Ahmad Nadalian, who is a well-known environment artist. Located in the middle of the village, this bohemian gem’s entrance walls are dotted with charming local artwork.

Not only are they visually striking, but they aim to offer numerous job opportunities for locals as an effort to improve economical struggles.

Take a Hike on the Rainbow Valley

Rainbow Valley Hormuz Island, Iran

If you want to see the full scope of the vibrant colors of Hormuz Island, this is the place to be. The Rainbow Valley is a canvas waiting to be explored, tracing the intricate brush strokes of nature with your footsteps.

The multi-colored soil, with 70 types of minerals embedded in its folds, is bound to make you breathless while making your way through this region.

As the surface of Hormuz Island can be quite rocky and jagged, be sure to have a great pair of hiking shoes to trek these tranquil terrains.

This kind of landscape reminds me a lot of Socotra Island, not so much because of its colors but more for its otherworldly look.

Hormuz Island, Iran - Colorful Sunset

Find Shapes in the Valley of Statues

Follow the trail to discover the oddly shaped rock formations and be ready to debate what shapes can be seen within these structures. The path leads to a panoramic view of Mofannagh Beach, one of the most popular beaches on the island.

Visit the Portuguese Castle

A surviving remnant of the Portuguese rule in the early 16th century, the ruins of the fortress have history embedded in its walls. The place is dotted with long-forgotten structures but still has fragments of a once-lived world.

Rainbow Island in Iran – Final Thoughts

Traveling enables us to experience unexplored and lived lives, a glimpse into another world. Hormuz Island provides a different take on the typical island destination with blood-red waters and prism-like hues of hills.

Teeming with natural wonders and thought-provoking landscapes, Hormuz Island is a strange and fascinating sight to behold. The island is bound to leave you with an appreciation for the mysterious eccentricities of the natural world.

Rainbow Island Lake in Iran

The interesting culture and fascinating surroundings are an exclusive look into a world less traveled. The obscure treasure of Iran, Rainbow Island is a unique region that will be sure to enchant you.

Lastly, if you’re interested in seeing more of Iran, check out this post detailing everything you must know before traveling to Iran.

Adventure Awaits


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