Socotra Island is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled islands in the world. The island is well known for its Dragon Blood Trees and its surreal landscapes full of towering sand dunes and deep canyons, making it one of the most beautiful UNESCO sites in the world.
Socotra, which is located in the Arabian Sea just below Yemen has roughly over 42,000 inhabitants in an area of 3,796 square kilometers. This means the island is “barely inhabited!”
There are only small villages here and there, and even its capital city, Hadiboh, feels like a big village. All in all, Socotra is a natural paradise and one that should be enjoyed by everyone.
Socotra has gained notoriety for being almost impossible to visit, but that’s not true. Sure, there are some planning logistics you must understand to get there, but this post will share all of that with you so you can enjoy this unique, mind-blowing spot on earth.
Why You Must Go Now! And, Is Socotra Safe?
Being part of Yemen, Socotra has suffered the collateral damage of being part of a country that has been at war for over five years now. But, Socotra itself has never been at war and it is very safe.
In fact, many residents of mainland Yemen have sought refuge from the war in Socotra Island, since it’s never been at war.
Locals on the island are very friendly (though women are culturally shy) and will always make you feel welcomed and treated with respect. Everyone treats you as if you’re their guest.
Having said that, the island is politically unstable, which makes traveling to Socotra a bit harder – though still safe.
Unfortunately, due to the war in Yemen and other power struggles with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia that are affecting the island politically, Socotra has been neglected by tourists who have stopped visiting the island due to misinformation or fear.
On one hand, this sucks for the island’s economy. On the other hand, this is a beautiful opportunity for us as travelers to enjoy an island with virtually NO ONE around us.
Access to Socotra is very limited at the moment (more on that below), so you’ll only see a handful of tourists during your trip. And by a handful, I mean, I counted, at most, 25 other tourists on the island the week I was there.
Almost everywhere I went to I was either by myself, or I crossed paths with only one or two travelers (at most) for a brief period.
Another reason to go there now is that unfortunately, the UAE has “administrative control” (in other words, invaded the island with “good intention” to help it during the war) and is being a dick by “stealing” Dragon Blood Trees from the island.
Socotra is a UNESCO site, so these trees are protected. In fact, the Dragon Blood tree is an endangered species as it takes roughly 800 years for it to grow to the size we see them today.
In addition, the UAE is slowly trying to convert the island into a military outpost for themselves and fill all of its beautiful, deserted beaches with resorts.
If the UAE gets away with its power grab plan, it’s possible the Socotra we have today will no longer exist. Hopefully, Yemen and the local Socotrian government will give them a good political and figurative fight to keep their natural heritage intact.
So, go now!
When to Go to Socotra Island
October to May is the best season to visit, but the peak months are October, November, and February.
These months are not too hot and not too rainy, which are perfect for hiking and doing outdoor stuff, which is basically the main thing to do in Socotra. This time is also great for wildlife.
December and January are rainy, but still manageable if you want to visit. June to September is monsoon season and too windy, which makes it undesirable both for hiking and outdoor sightseeing. The only exception is for windsurfers, which is optimal for them.
I visited during March, and while it was hot, it wasn’t crazy hot. In fact, it was perfect beach weather. During the hikes, it got a bit hot, but nothing too crazy.
How to Get to Socotra Island
As of now, there are only two ways you can get to Socotra Island.
The first one is by flying with Yemen Airways (Yemenia) from Cairo with a layover in Aden to clear immigration and customs and then a quick stopover at Mukallá before arriving at Socotra.
Yemenia flight IY 611 departs Sunday at 10:30 pm, arriving at Aden at 3 am. Then, flight IY 420 departs for Socotra at 7 am, with a stopover in Mukallá (passenger pick-up/drop-off) before arriving in Socotra on Monday at 10 am.
The return flight, IY 421, leaves Socotra on Monday at 11 am, making the same stops on the way back and arriving at Aden at 2 pm, where passengers must pass once again through Yemeni customs and immigration.
The flight from Aden to Cairo, IY 612, departs Aden at 6 pm, arriving in Cairo at 8:30 pm on Monday. before continuing on to Cairo, arriving there on Monday night.
You can, of course, stay for two or three weeks, and so on, as long as you plan on leaving on a Monday (or Tuesday with the government charter flight. More on that below).
Take into account that this flight is usually 2 to 3 hours delayed. Also, be aware that this schedule could change at any time.
Ticket prices tend to start at around $950 roundtrip and can go up to $1,300 or so (I paid $1,200).
While you can technically buy the ticket through Yemenia, independent travel in Socotra is currently not allowed, so you’ll need a host (tour company or local) to get the visa authorization to be admitted into the flight.
Be aware that you must book these flights at least three weeks in advance to get a seat (ideally sooner).
While only a handful of tourists fly to Socotra (on my flight, we didn’t even reach 20 tourists), the rest of the Yemenia Airbus A320 seats (a big plane) are filled with local Socotrans who need to fly to mainland Yemen for business, supplies, or medical visits (there’s only one hospital in Socotra and not good for medical emergencies or surgery).
So, those single flights a week are always sold out.
Emirates Aviation Services Charter Flight
This second flight option was introduced in 2021. Now you can also fly to Socotra from Abu Dhabi on a non-stop government charter flight often operated by Air Arabia (but it’s not an Air Arabia flight you can book online).
The flight, which is officially a humanitarian charter, only runs on Tuesdays from early September to mid-May.
The flight, 3L 476 departs Abu Dhabi at 11:55 am, arriving in Socotra at 1:10 pm. The return flight, from Socotra to Abu Dhabi is also on Tuesday, departing at 2:40 pm and arriving in Abu Dhabi at 5:55 pm.
Like the Yemenia flight, this route is often delayed 2 to 3 hours.
The price for this roundtrip Abu Dhabi route starts at $860, and the only way to purchase it is by either sending a wire to a UAE bank account, or via an approved tour company.
Given that this route is much more convenient than the Yemenia flight, there is a much higher demand for it. It is recommended to reserve tickets at least five months in advance.
Know that, as of now, none of the above flights are available for purchase online. They can only be purchased in person with the evidence that you have a visa to Socotra.
Here, you have two options: 1) know someone from Socotra who can get you the visa and purchase the ticket for you, or 2) pay for a tour (what I did).
For a good while, there were ferries from Salalah in Oman going straight to Socotra, but for the time being, these are not running.
Getting the Visa to Socotra
If you know someone in Socotra, they might be able to get a visa for you. Since I didn’t, I contacted a tour agency to do this for me, purchase my flights, and of course, organize my whole trip.
The agency I went with is Socotra Trek Tours. They were recommended to me by other travelers, and they were among the cheapest I found. I recommend sending Adnan a Whatsapp message and taking it from there. (+967777948334)
Now, this was my process of getting the visa with them. First, I sent a copy of my American passport (via email) and the dates I was interested in visiting (remember, Wednesday to Wednesday), and they moved forward on getting the visa.
In my case, I believe they got a dummy visa to purchase my flight as quickly as possible but then got the visa approved right away. The whole process took just a few days.
The visa costs $100 USD. My tour was $1,400. Have in mind, though, that the tour cost varies drastically depending on the number of travelers and whether you’re camping or not. The more you are, the cheaper it is per person.
Given the monetary restriction that Yemen and Socotra are facing at the moment (at least by the US), payment can only be made via Western Union (at least with my tour company).
I paid for the flight and visa via Western Union and paid for the tour with cash once there.
I found it curious that my visa said it was for “work,” so not sure if that’s the workaround these days to get the visa approved. Yemen is notorious for changing its bureaucracy all the time, so it’s no surprise if this is the new trick to get tourists there… for now.
IMPORTANT: You can’t have an Israeli stamp on your passport. Your visa will be denied if you have visited Israel with your passport and there is evidence of it.
Now, I’ve received a lot of messages from people interested in going to Socotra but being put off by the Western Union payments feeling like they could get scammed. Trust me, I had those same fears.
Thankfully, now you can also travel to Socotra with Engage Socotra, which offers secure online payments and takes care of all the tour, visa, and flight logistics at an affordable price.
What’s great about Engage Socotra is that they are a consortium of local travel operators on Socotra dedicated to ecological conservation, community support, and sustainable tourism. They are focused on Community-based ecotourism in Socotra.
Another good thing about Engage Socotra is that they can tailor your trip to exactly what you want and for the duration you want, whether it’s a succulent-themed trip, a hiking trip, a community interaction trip, or others.
Engage Socotra is also upping the ante on the camping experience by offering bell tents for a more comfortable camping/glamping experience in Socotra.
Is a Tour Really Necessary?
Yes, it is. At the moment, Socotra does not allow for independent travel, unless you know a local who can host you.
But in my experience, if you don’t know a local, a tour is quite essential not only to cover the logistics mentioned above but also to travel the island. Socotra has zero public transportation and no proper tourism infrastructure.
So, renting a car, finding hotels throughout the island, random restaurants, and getting one day tours here and there are not a thing.
Your multi-day tour will take care of you and it will include everything, from all your food, transportation, driver, guide, accommodation, and whatever activity was discussed/included.
As mentioned previously, I went there with Socotra Trek Tours, but while in Socotra, I met some other travelers who visited with Easy Yemen Tours. I have no personal experience with them, but these other travelers had no complaints about them.
As with everything, I always recommend comparing your options and see which one is best for you.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous, some travelers add three or more days to their week in Socotra to travel from Salalah, Oman to Saiyun overland – before hopping on the flight to the island. Know though, that traveling mainland Yemen is still a bit risky.
Expect the Unexpected
Given that Socotra is located in the Middle East, is part of Yemen (which is at war), and is suffering a power grab by outside forces, it’s possible the peaceful panorama the island has kept in the last decade could change in an instant and affect your travel plans.
In fact, this happened to me when I planned my trip the first time in March 2018. My trip got canceled close to the departure date due to “force majeure” after the island’s governor died, invalidating my visa.
This is why you must buy travel insurance on every trip, to be covered in case of any cancellation or unexpected changes.
While I normally go with World Nomads travel insurance for all destinations, unfortunately, they don’t cover Yemen at the moment. But, SquareMouth was my top choice to find a good insurance policy for Socotra.
Thankfully, on my second attempt to visit Socotra, everything went smoothly!
What to Do on Socotra Island
There’s a lot to do in Socotra and all of it is nature-driven. If you’re a hiking enthusiast, you could hike from the south to the north of the island in a week (camping along the way).
For windsurfers, you could practice this watersport during the monsoon season. Fishing aficionados could spend an entire week fishing all around the island. And for everyone else, here are several of the highlights you shouldn’t miss while in Socotra.
• See the Dragon Blood Trees at Diksam
The Dragon Blood Trees are the endemic ancient trees Socotra is well known for. Of course, you can’t leave the island without seeing them. These trees grow in altitudes over 800 meters, so you must go to the highlands – preferably the Diksam Plateau.
There’s the Fermahin Forest, which is the biggest Dragon Blood Tree forest in Socotra – you’ll see hundreds of those trees as you hike along the plateau.
• Stay at a Bedouin Village at Diksam
Spending time with a Bedouin family is a great cultural addition to a trip that is mostly nature-driven. Eat with the family, share stories, and get to know them a bit.
• Hike the Dirhour Canyon
If time allows, hike along or down the Dirhour Canyon while at the Dixam Plateau. It’s beautiful!
• Deleisha Beach
This might be the first beach you’ll visit as it is located very close to Hadiboh. It’s a nice beach and a very warm welcome to what should be a visually stunning trip!
• See the sand dunes at Zahik… and go to Zahik Beach
These sand dunes are located on the southern side of the island. Socotra has several sand dunes across the island thanks to the windy weather that carries a lot of that sand from mainland Africa.
One of the most surreal sights for me there was seeing cows walking and resting on the sand dunes! Cows in the desert!
And of course, go to Zahik Beach not far from the dunes. It’s a beautiful and mostly deserted beach!
• Aomaq Beach
Another beautiful beach not far from Zahik Beach. I found Zahik to be more beautiful than Aomak, but the latter is nicer to camp for a night.
• Degoub Cave
A small window cave on the southern part of the island. It is not too deep, so you can go there with no flashlight. The hike there is also short, just five minutes at most.
• Archer Beach
I LOVE Archer Beach! For me, it is surreal having mountains cliffs covered by giant sand dunes on one side (towering up to 300 meters in height), and on the other a beautiful turquoise colored beach.
This beach is also an excellent spot to spend a night camping. In fact, it was one of my favorite camping spots.
• Houq Cave
To date, this is the largest cave discovered in Socotra. You hike one hour to get to it; then you can explore up to two kilometers inside the cave. Though the cave is empty now, archaeologists found petroglyphs and pottery there.
You still see the beautiful rock formations like stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. Worth visiting if you like caves. Take a flashlight and get ready to get your shoes all muddy.
• Homahil Protected Area and the Wadi Difarhou Natural Pool
Possibly one of the most beautiful and surreal spots on the island when it comes to flora. As you hike – about 1.5 hours to the natural pool – you’ll see hundreds of Dragon Blood Trees and Bottle Trees – the other iconic tree from Socotra.
The hike is gorgeous but even better is the natural pool by the edge of the mountain. You have a stunning view of the coast from up there, and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll have it all for yourself, as I did!
• Detwah Lagoon
A gorgeous lagoon next to the small town of Qalansiyah (the second largest town in Socotra). Go to the viewpoint near the military outpost from where you’ll see an overview of the lagoon and the beach. Camp one night at the lagoon.
The lagoon beach might not be the nicest one to swim in, but the scenery is gorgeous. And, there’s a caveman nearby! I wrote about my amazing experience meeting him!
• Shouab Beach and Swimming with Dolphins
Shouab Beach is, in my opinion, the most beautiful beach in Socotra (at least of the ones I visited) and probably one of the most beautiful in the world, if not the most beautiful.
The only way to get there is by taking a fisherman’s boat early in the morning – at 7:00 am the latest – to see the Spinner Dolphins swimming in herds and doing tricks as they jump out of the water.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot them on your way back from Shouab beach too.
Shouab beach is a long, deserted white sand beach that you’ll probably enjoy by yourself. There is a small shack made with twigs and branches, belonging to a man who apparently lives there, but he wasn’t there when I went there.
Apparently, he is friendly enough to let you take shelter there during the day as you enjoy the beach. And if he isn’t, you can still take cover from the sun at his place. If you have time, camp at the beach for a night.
• Dihamri Marine Reserve
This marine reserve has a decent camping spot right next to the beach. It also has one of the best places in Socotra to snorkel and dive.
Your guide can arrange the snorkel rental, which costs about $5. They can also arrange the diving (as there’s not dive shop you can just walk in) but the dive there is way too expensive. I skipped on it.
• Go Fishing
If you’re a fishing aficionado, there are great fishing spots all around the island. In fact, Socotrans are pescatarians, so fishing is something they know how to do very very very well.
Honestly, I recommend you simply stay offline during your time in Socotra. Wifi is shit and so is their local internet. In fact, Yemen doesn’t have any telecommunications service on the island.
The current cellphone service there was recently set up by the UAE as part of their dubious plan to “help” Socotra, when in fact they are quietly turning this Unesco-protected paradise into a military outpost and holiday resort island.
The UAE is slowly trying to take power away from Yemen and Socotra is both benefitting and suffering from this power struggle – depending on who you ask.
Anyway, back to staying connected. Your guide can help you get a SIM card if you really need one.
It’s preferred to let him know beforehand as these are not the easiest to get while on the island. They cost 50 euros just for the SIM card, and 30 euros per 1 gigabyte. The 1-gigabyte package lasts 30 days.
Having said that, it’s a waste of money. There’s barely any signal across the island, and where there is, it’s so weak that uploading a photo might take a while.
Wifi is only available at the three hotels in Hadiboh. And again, they are basically useless. It took me about 30 minutes to upload one picture on Facebook.
Socotra has a cash economy, which means, everything you buy must be purchased with cash, using their local currency – the Yemeni Rial.
Make sure that whatever bills you take to Socotra (Euro, Dollar, Pounds) is crisp, unmarked, and without any tears. Basically, take new bills to Socotra. Otherwise, they will refuse your money.
This applies to your tour payment and any money you’ll exchange for your daily purchases not included on your tour (if you’re on one).
Everything is cheap in Socotra. I changed only $40 to cover my drinks and random souvenirs for the entire week and still left with extra money.
First and foremost, Socotrans are very friendly. Unfortunately, though, there’s not a lot of local interactions there, especially with women, given that Socotrans are very conservative and they like to keep it that way.
All local women wear the burqa in public and they often shy away from interacting with foreigners. Also, women aren’t allowed to eat at local restaurants. They eat at home, separate from any male guest. That’s why you never see them at restaurants or hanging around.
If your driver sees women walking on the street, he’ll probably offer them a ride (hitchhike). This is common in Socotra as there’s no public transportation. If they get a ride with you, you’ll be asked to sit in front, so you have no physical contact with the women.
Kids, on the other hand, are very playful and curious. They’ll talk to you and call for your attention.
Local Food in Socotra
Food-wise, Socotra has a pescatarian diet. This means you’ll probably eat fish or seafood every single day (unless you have a dietary restriction – which you should tell your guide).
Chicken and goat meat are rarely cooked, so you’ll be lucky if you find it in a local restaurant.
Beef is only cooked on special occasions, like a wedding, when they sacrifice several cows and offer the meat to their guests. If you’re lucky enough to be there during a wedding, you might enjoy that special event and the beef!
I don’t eat seafood nor fish, so I spent my entire week eating bread, beans, potatoes, and rice. It was fine. The one night I was served goat meat… well, it was more of a goat skull than goat meat!
Also good to know is that Socotrians serve only a communal plate that they put on the floor in the center of the room, and they all eat with their hands from that one plate. They are ok giving you a spoon if you feel uncomfortable eating with your hands.
You’ll find Coca Cola, Fanta, and a few recognizable snacks only at a few local shops in Hadiboh. Outside of that everything else is local products – and warm water.
If you have any cravings of your favorite sweets and snacks, make sure you bring enough with you for the week.
What to Pack and the Dress Code
Packing for Socotra is easy. Pack clothes for warm weather, flip-flops, hiking/comfortable shoes, swimsuits, shorts, and t-shirts. If you go during winter, take a light jacket and long pants with you as it can get cold in the mountains.
Make sure you take with you some mosquito repellent and sunblock lotion, as you won’t find these on the island. Hand sanitizer is also recommended. Take a headlamp or flashlight for camping and the caves.
Also, make sure you take a power bank/battery to charge your phone or camera while camping, and an outlet converter.
Men can wear shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops pretty much everywhere. The only time I was asked to wear long pants, as a courtesy, not mandatory, was when going back to the airport on my departure, as there are many women at the airport waiting for their flight.
As mentioned, they are all conservative and wearing the burqa – so out of respect, I wore my jeans. But many guys there were wearing shorts with no issue.
Women, on the other hand, while in Hadiboh, should dress appropriately. Shorts are ok as long as they are not too short (but long pants are preferable) and t-shirts should cover your shoulders.
Outside of Hadiboh, while at the beach or far from any small town, you are free to wear your bikini and sunbathe.
Where to Stay in Socotra Island
While in Hadiboh, you have only three hotel options. The way locals describe it is there are two shitty hotels and a good one.
The Summerland Hotel is the good one, and it costs around $150 per night. I didn’t stay there, but my friends did. They said it was ok. Comfortable, clean enough, and your best option in the city.
I stayed the first and last night in one of the shitty hotels, the Taj Hotel. Honestly, go without any expectations. It’s dirty and things barely work (and this is coming from someone not squeamish and easy-going). But hey, it’s cheap.
The other shitty hotel is the Socotra Hotel. I have no firsthand experience with it, but it seems to be worse than the Taj Hotel.
Outside of Hadiboh, everything is either camping or homestays. There are no hotels outside the city.
I opted to camp and I highly recommend it! It’s one of the best ways to experience Socotra.
Should you not want to camp, you can stay the entire week in Hadiboh and do your trip as a series of day trips. Socotra is not that big, so any point on the island is reachable within a few hours driving.
About Camping in Socotra…
Do it!! I went there during March which is during the dry season, so I didn’t have to pitch my tent a single night. Nights were really comfortable, temperature-wise, but be aware that there might be mosquitos, ants, and other bugs around. It’s nature, after all.
I was fine just covering myself with my blankets.
The camping equipment is basic. I never used my tent, so I can’t speak of it, but know that the sleeping mat I was provided was a bit thin, so you have to get used to it if you like soft beds. The pillow was fine and so were the blankets.
My guide and driver took care of all the meals, cooking right on site.
Socotra has a few official camping sites, but most of them were partially destroyed during a strong hurricane that hit them in 2018.
At the moment they are in slow recovery, so you might have a mix of official campsites and random camping spots here and there.
Just Relax and Enjoy Solitude in Paradise
Last but not least, make the most of your offline time there by relaxing, reading a book, enjoying the beach, and talking with your friends. You know, the kinds of stuff we used to do before the smartphone and the internet.
Trust me, at first I wasn’t sure how’d I last a week offline, by myself, but in Socotra (and with a good book) it was easy and so enjoyable I’m dying to go back!
It is a true paradise!
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How much did the tour service itself cost? Seems to be missing that very important information in the otherwise excellent writeup
Sure, in my case it was $1,400. Solo traveler, camping. The price varies drastically depending on the number of travelers and whether you’re camping or not.
I didn’t see an option to post a separate reply, so I’m replying to this one.
Awesome blog and write up. I’m thinking about visiting Soqotra some time this coming January. Ideally, I’d like to combine it with a tour of Oman or Somaliland.
It’s now mid November; have you heard any news about the island? Is it still safe? Still accessible?
Thanks! Ok, last I heard (like three weeks ago) was that they suddenly stopped all tourist flights to Socotra, but that it was supposed to be sorted out within a few weeks. It’s probably been sorted by now but I can’t confirm. It didn’t seem to a danger issue, but more of a political issue. As Aurelia shared recently, as of October it was safe to visit, so I believe it still is safe.
I highly recommend contacting Adnan (Socotra Trek Tours) and ask him about the flights’ situation and current safety status. Know that these unexpected changes and cancellations do happen often, so if you plan a trip to Socotra, I recommend keeping a close eye on it and have a plan B in the region just in case (like spending more time in Oman and Somaliland, or another country!)
I didn’t see a reply button so I’ll have to use this one.
I was wondering what the guides and driver do the whole time? Do they follow you around on hikes and camping or do you meet them if necessary?
Really good article thanks!
Yeah, they are with you all the time… hike, eat, and camp with you. There were a few moments where my guide went home at night, while the driver stayed with me camping, but he was back early the next morning.
I love this blog. I had no idea this island is accessible. I was in Egypt last year and had I have known, I would have tried to take a tour. Yemen, I have only heard of her through military and fight, the wrong reasons!
Now you know! Try to visit it in the near future. It’s amazing!
Socotra looks a charming place to visit. The photos and the landscapes are giving me real travel goals to plan a trip soon to this hidden paradise.
would like to ask about your opinion about safety in Socotra. I want to travel to Socotra, but I’m a bit concerned about traveling alone there.
Also I enjoyed the whole article, find it very helpful.
Hi Eva – Honestly, I felt 100% safe while I was there. You’ll see everyone is really respectful and peaceful. I camped, ate with locals, and so on and never felt a bit of danger.
I do encourage you to visit Socotra as it is a stunning island!
What was the overall cost of the trip, flights, hotel stays, tour services, ect.
Total was $2700
Hi Norbert, thank you for your very informative information about Socotra.. I’m booked on a trip out there from end February into early March.. I’m looking forward to going even more after reading your experiences.. I was thinking of asking you for any tips I should know before leaving but I think you’ve covered everything in your article.. Thanks again these things are priceless for other travellers.. Best wishes to you, Dave Barrow
Hey Dave, thanks!
Well, If you’re going solo, then I recommend having a book or stuff to read as you’ll have a lot of “me” time there if you’re camping. When in Qalansiyah don’t miss walking around on both sides of the beach. It’s such a beautiful area.
Take extra SD cards for your camera as you might take lots of pictures! I surely did. Take an external battery (power bank) too, especially if camping.
Lastly, I’d like to stress that Hadiboh does not represent the rest of Socotra. Unfortunately, Hadiboh is dirty and all littered, but the rest of the island is gorgeous!
Also, keep an eye on current events as Socotra/Yemen is known for changing its tourist policy all the time. I know they restricted tourists from visiting the island this week, but it should be resolved soon (next few weeks). Talk to your tour operator to make sure everything is ok as your trip gets near.
Hi Norbert, thanks for the further information..
I am camping and traveling with a group..
We have local guides and transport..
I do travel extensively usually on some kind of expedition so am experienced with most things..
It is very good to learn details of what to expect before leaving for any destination though..
Once again thank you for your excellent information regarding Socotra..
Excellent! You’re gonna have an awesome time there!
Norbert, I thought your description of your experience was exceptional! Nice job! Hope to make this trip sometime!
Thanks! Hopefully you’ll visit the island soon. It is exceptionally beautiful!
This is a great article. I just recently visited Socotra (Oct 23rd-30th) as a solo traveler as part of a tour and everything you discussed here is accurate to what I experienced. Also, as a woman I felt totally safe there – more so then most other places. Just recommend dressing conservatively. Thank you for this write up!
Hi Aurelia –
Thanks for your update! Great to hear from a solo female traveler perspective and that you felt safe there. If you have any other input I’d be happy to add it here.
Hi, thanks for a nice blog about Socotra, definitely a lot of good information. I am planning to go in March 2020, it is possible I got for 1 week with tour agency, and 1 week I stay on my own ? I mean, can I rent some motorbike and do just my stuff ? Also, I am spearfishing maniac, do you think it is possible to bring speargun there and catch some fish ?
Hi Brano –
I believe you can stay there for a few extra weeks is you want. I met someone there who was staying for a month, but they knew people in Socotra who were helping her move around and I’m assuming they “sponsored” her visa. Ask your tour company if they can arrange your visa for an extra week even if you just travel with them for a week.
Regarding fishing, I believe you can, but double-check with the agency. On my flight, there were three Italians who were going to Socotra on a fishing trip. I know they were bringing their own equipment but can’t say which equipment it was since I know nothing about fishing, and of course, I didn’t know them to ask. 🙂
Regarding renting a motorbike, I believe there are no rental services on the island, so unless you do it through/with a local, I think it’ll be hard. But, I don’t think it’ll be impossible. Again, ask the tour company to see if they can hook you up.
totally understand, thanks for great information. There would be nothing better than just rent a bike and go wild. I traveled in Oman, 5500km on motorbike KTM 990 Adventure, it was amazing. And with fishing it looks great too, I found some big fishes there on pics. I guess sea is amazing too, and maybe I would take one dive too.
Hey, thank you so much for this detailed blog.. Definitely gonna visit there during march and share my experience here.. ✌️
Thank you so much. This is really helpful. I have been longing to go there for a decade, still haven’t been that close than seeing pictures and reading blog or article about it on internet. I wish my dream with come true within this year.
Thank you again
Hopefully you’ll go there soon!
Wanna go this month is there any chance to be part of your trip to Socotra ?😍😍😭
I’m aiming to go around March this year (based on your experience weather wise).
The tour guide you used organised everything from accommodation, flights, visa, day trips… etc
Hi Wajee –
Thanks! Yes, they organized everything!
Hi Wajee, I am going this March too, we can maybe meet and go together. My mail is 2ge[at]2ge[dot]us
I’m thinking about some time in March too. Actually, I’m planning on flying to ‘Oman end of Feb. early March, and then arranging the flight to Soqotra from there. Somehow, I forgot the name of the recommended tour company/guide. Brano, I’ll send you a separate email, as we might be there the same time.
Hi Brano, how was your trip to Socatra? Did you fish a d rent a bike? I’m planning to go to Socotra next week would love to do some spearfishing but sadly far a way from my gear but still don’t want to miss freediving or even snorkeling. Do you think I can rent some gear or will I get some from the guide?
What SIM card costed you 50 euros?!
It’s less than 2 euros here in Aden (1000 rial) and the data doesn’t cost that much about 2000 rial for 1 gigabyte which is about 4-5 euros
And what hotel costs 150$? It costs 50$ for a night in a 4 star hotel in Aden
There is no way it costs more than 100$
You get ripped of man
Btw I am a yemeni from Aden, I wish I can go to Socatra but it is too expensive to me, maybe one day
Hi Bassam –
Exactly, I’m talking about Socotra, not Aden – which is in the mainland. The telecom network is not the same; it is operated by the UAE. Also, the price of a hotel in Aden does not reflect how much a hotel should cost in Socotra. As you mentioned yourself, it is expensive to go there, so everything imported and done on the island reflects that expense and inflation.
Excellent and extremely informative write up! I’m planning on visiting at the end of April, and just hoping that the political situation remains fairly stable. As a solo female traveller, I am a bit apprehensive but being part of a group I should be fine. Also, it helps that I speak the language (but not the dialect unfortunately).
Glad you enjoyed it!
Thanks, Sahar! I can’t personally speak regarding solo female traveler experiences, but overall I can say that Socotra felt very safe. I think you should be fine as a solo female traveler, but more than fine with a group.
Hope your trip is amazing!
Thanks for this amazing blog and all the information! All the questions that I had before I read it, you answered them!!
I hope I can make it this year and go to this amazing island!
So did you go in March 2019? Crazy how things quickly things have changed. I just went this February (2020) and the island was packed with tourists – we were always running into other groups. More like 120-140 people weekly and before the virus, all flights were sold out for the season. Hopefully, it doesn’t get overrun 🙁
Wow, really?! That’s roughly a 500% increase in one year! I think the number is still not bad, considering the size of the island, but yeah, I hope it doesn’t get overrun by tourists.
How many days you spent on the Island?Just a week?Was it enough?Marta
I spent a week, from Wednesday to Wednesday since that’s the only flight arriving/leaving the island. I feel like it was enough to visit everything I wanted to see, but I might have wanted to stay maybe an extra day or two just to chill out a bit more.
hi when i searchesd in google the places Homahil Protected Area and the Wadi Difarhou Natural Pool i couldn’t do more research
can u help me if it is the exact name for those places
(i am taking socotra as project describing its flora etc )
so much useful information.. dope thanks
Nice job on the blog Norbert. Really thorough. Also a good crossroad for people interested in visiting this island. Did anyone use the tour group “Welcome to Socotra”. I am keen on visiting, but am a wee bit hesitant about transferring money.
Also, can anyone comment on the current situation on the island? Still safe from the tragedy unfolding on the mainland?
Thanks, Anthony! I haven’t used “Welcome to Socotra” myself, so can’t say how they are, but I know how it feels when it comes to wiring money to a foreign company. Thankfully planning with Adnan was smooth and he delivered.
Regarding the island’s safety, I’m still in touch with Adnan and it seems to be safe still and accepting tourists.
Hi Norbert, just wanted to say I loved the article, and love the sound of Socotra even more! Hopefully I’ll get to visit some day. Even as a lone female traveller I have no hesitation adding it to my bucket list. Stay safe and thanks for the info!
Yes! Socotra is well worth a visit and as far as I know, it is still safe for solo female travelers.
Hope you are keeping safe and doing well.
This is nasser saleh from aden city, l’ve heard alot about this island and unfortunately despite l am from Yemen but l couldn’t get the chance to visit this most beautiful place in Yemen, l’ve made many plans for visiting the island but due to work issues l couldn’t find the the chance to go there, l believe l will get the opportunity to be there one day, and l hope to see you there.
Thanks again for sharing this valuable information and nice photos about the isalnd.
Stay in touch and safe.
Nasser, thank you for sharing and I do hope you get to visit Socotra.
Thank you for sharing your experience to Socotra. Hope to visit it someday.
Thank you!! Hope you get to visit it!
I just wanted to point out two things. They may be political but this is important to raise:
– Yemen is not at war – it is assaulted by the external forces aiming to its extermination. All of this using the westerners’ tax money.
– travelling to Sokotra supports the UAE control/takeover over the island. Shame that you did not mention it.
Please stop glamorising supporting UAE/Israeli colonialism
Hi Mikolaj –
– Whether it is assaulted by external forces or not, it is still a war… similar to Ukraine’s war right now.
– Each traveler gets to decide how they want to spend their money. Also, I shared a brief note above on the power struggle between Yemen and the UAE. I can’t share anything beyond that without proper fact-checking.
– I’m not glamorizing war. Shame you only focused on the political aspect of the post (which was a minute fraction of the post’s information) versus all the helpful information provided to other travelers. At the end of the day, this is a travel blog.
Hi Norbert, thanks for sharing! Would you mind providing the names of the “good” hotel and the “shitty hotels” please? Thanks!
Hi Marie, I know it’s been a while, but the good hotel is the Summerland. The shitty one is the Taj Hotel.
Thanks for the great write up! Do you know how things have changed with Covid? I’d like to try and arrange a trip this March (2022).
Hi Leah, I’ve stayed in touch with Adnan (my tour guide) and I know there’ve been a few changes in the last year or soo due to covid. I recommend whatsapping him to get the latest news.
HI Norbert I thoroughly enjoyed this, the place looks amazing.
Can you provide the Whats App for Adnan.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Sorry for the delay. Hope you got to visit this past march! If you did, feel free to share your experience.
Hi, Norbert! First of all, thank you a lot for your tips. Very usefull.
I only have a single question. I know in Yemen, foreigns vistors could drink alcohol at some hotels and restaurats.
Did you see any single place selling something like a beer at socotra island?
Hi Julio, Sorry for the delay. Actually, no, I didn’t see any sale of alcohol anywhere on the island.
Thank you very much for this wonderful written, extremely helpful blog. I read it slowly and with a lot of joy!!
Your blog has nice pictures and probably all the information you need to know about Socotra!
One question though: would you recommend women (ie my wife) to go there – or not?
All the best!
Yes! Socotra is safe for female travelers, whether accompanied or not.
Hi, wonderful and inspiring post ! 3 of us are planning a visit to Socotra in Feb’22 from New Delhi, India, via the Abu Dhabi route.
Considering the Indian govt’s advisory ( posted below ) a Yemeni visa stamped on our passports will be very risky so can you clarify whether the Socotra ( Yemeni ) Visa will be stamped on our passports or we’ll be simply given a paper permit / visa which we’ll need to carry with us ? It’ll probably work out fine for us if there is no stamping done, or if there’s a way to avoid it. Your inputs on this will be very helpful.
“Travel Advisory to Indian citizens for Yemen.
All Indian nationals are strongly advised to avoid travelling to Yemen under any circumstances, by any mode of travel, including air, land or sea for any purpose till further notice, as the security situation in Yemen continues to be fragile with armed hostilities continuing in parts of the country. Yemen is vulnerable from the security point of view.
The following points must be kept in mind by Indian nationals while intending to travel to Yemen:-
The passport or travel document issued by the Government of India is invalid for the travel to Yemen;
Any Indian national who travels to Yemen in violation of instructions issued by Government of India from time to time, shall be liable for action under section 12 of the Passports Act, 1967, and the passport shall be liable for impounding or revocation, as the case may be, under sub-section (3) of section 10 of the said Act;
Violation of this direction by any Indian Passport holder shall be liable for refusal of passport under section 6 of the Passport Act, 1967 for a period of seven years from the date of revocation of such passport;
Any Recruiting Agent or a Company sending Indian nationals to Yemen shall be individually or collectively held responsible, and all such Agents or Company, including all its Directors, shall personally be liable to be prosecuted under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code, if the Indian nationals so sent are killed or kidnapped or come any harm, while travelling to Yemen;
Criminal proceedings also may be initiated against owners of the foreign ships carrying Indian nationals to Yemen and visa shall be denied to them for any future travel to India“
Looking forward to your reply,
Thanks and regards,
Sorry for the delay. In my case, they stamped a paper, but hope they did the same in your case! Feel free to share if you visited.
Thinking of visiting in February of 2022… is it still receptive to do so? Has the UAE taken over the island?
Hi Norbert, love the article. 2 friends and I would love to go out there at some point. do you know of any availability to use motorbikes or cars to rents? we have travelled throughout parts of the world on these forms of transport and would love to do it here. thanks!
It’s possible you can rent a car or motorbike, but that would have to be arranged with a tour company (if allowed). Feel free to contact Adnan (number above).
Thanks for the write up. My mom and I are looking to visit with Socotra Trek Tours in Feb. So you were required to wire the money to Adnan and send passport pictures? I am a little apprehensive about this as I have never booked a tour like this before.
Hope you had a great time in Socotra! Trust me, I had that same hesitation, but it all turned out to be ok and Adnan has been great. Even post trip we still stay in touch.
I am a South African and would like to know what travel options are best to travel to Socrata from, in Feb 2022. Abu Dhabi or Cairo? It will be for 3 people? Any advice on the timing, for both camping and non-camping options and what essentials should we carry along…
Hi Jenny, I know it’s a late reply, but the best option would be the most convenient and accessible for you. In my case it was Cairo, but I know Abu Dhabi can be just as convenient if it pairs well with your other flights or travel itinerary.
If you want to travel across the island, then you’ll probably camp. That is if you don’t want to drive back to Hadiboh every day. There are also homestays, but that must be coordinated via the tour company.
Wow, what a fabulous blog! Would I be out of line if I asked about tobacco products (cigars) and alcohol? How can we keep up with the latest current events? My husband was recently deployed to Yemen for a year and became quite interested in Socotra.
Thanks again for this amazing information!
Thank you! Regarding tobacco products, I believe they might be sold just like in any other country. I don’t smoke, so unfortunately I didn’t pay attention to that detail. Regarding alcohol, it is not sold anywhere on the island (as far as I know).
To keep up with the latest/current events, honestly, the news has been helpful, and staying in touch with Adnan (in my case).
Thanks for the very helpful guide Norbert!
What’s the bathroom situation like when going in these tours? Is it pretty standard to just go in the bush or do some tours have a better setup than other?
If camping, most probably will be in the bush. During the day, when you stop at a home for lunch, you can use their bathroom. Sometimes it’s an outhouse, other times inside the house like a regular bathroom.
Would you say it’s safe for a solo female traveler? I’m an experienced solo traveler who world of course be respectful of local modesty rules. I just worry about being a westerner out and about without the company of a male and the likelihood that it might make me a target.
I’ve been wanting to go forever and feel even more pressed to see it now before these UAE hotels are built destroying the charm.
Thanks for all the excellent tips.
Yes! It is safe for solo female travelers. I happened to meet one solo female traveler when I was here, and she couldn’t rave more about her experience. I met other females traveling in other tour groups and as far as I know, they were loving the country.
Amazing blog!!! I cannot think about anything but Socorra since I read it. Truly hope to visit it in April.
Thank you so much!!!!!!
Hope you had an amazing time there, Izabela! Feel free to share your experience.
Hi, Did you had any problems returning to the US?
I have read that the American government blacklists people who have visited countries with high terrorist activity, including Yemen.
Hi Rand, I did not have trouble coming back to the US. Not a single question was asked when I arrived. On the other hand, when I flew back to the US from my trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, I was questioned for a while.
Brilliant and very informative blog. Thank you! I booked through Adnan, and will be there in May.
I’m glad you booked with Adnan!! Hope he gave you a great tour. Feel free to update us on your experience!
Are you French? Your Blog is very helpful , I would like to go there with my husband
Thank you! Well, I’m not French. I’m from Puerto Rico.
Hands up who wants to go there with me🤣🤣🤣🤣
Dzien dobry Ewa, can you wait until late October / beginning of November? (article says best season is October to April)
What is the current situation?