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Qeshm Island

The largest island in the Persian Gulf on the west coast of the Straits, Qeshm (also known as Gheshm) is fringed with biologically diverse mangrove forests, attractive beaches and 60 Bandari villages. Its sun-scorched interior features geologically significant canyons, hills, caves and valleys, most of which are now protected as part of the UNESCO-recognised Qeshm Island Geopark.

Qeshm is a duty-free zone but in a Gulf increasingly full of gleaming skyscrapers it remains refreshingly attached to the age-old Bandari way of life. The main town, Qeshm, is on the northeast point of the island. Here, locals wear traditional dress, live in houses cooled by badgirs (windtowers) and work in boat-building yards turning out lenges, the large wooden cargo boats that have criss-crossed the Gulf for centuries.

The island has an abundance of wildlife, including birds, reptiles, dolphins and turtles. Local communities are heavily involved in projects to protect the environment, and there is some disquiet about the effect that the country's first heavy oil refinery, constructed on the island's southern coast, might have on the hitherto pristine natural landscape.

Getting There & Away
Qeshm is accessible by air, speedboat and car ferry.

Qeshm International Airport is in Dayrestan, about 43km southwest of Qeshm Town.

There are three options for reaching the island by boat from Bandar Abbas: motorised speedboats (35 minutes), small covered motorboats (40 minutes) and slightly larger 'cruise' boats (50 minutes). The 'cruise' boats are the safest and most comfortable. All run between Qeshm's Bahman Dock and Bandar Abbas' Shahid Haqani Passenger Port dock.

A car ferry (7 minutes) crosses from Bandar-e Pol, 89km west of Bandar Abbas, to Laft-e Kohneh, near the village of Laft. The service operates 24 hours and ferries leave when full.

Getting Around
This is one place where it really helps to have a car (particularly a 4WD), and we recommend that you consider hiring one at Bandar Abbas airport and bringing it to the island on the car ferry from Bandar-e Pol.

There is no public transport on Qeshm, and the only way of exploring or getting from one place to the next without private transportation is to hire a taxi. Alternatively, you could try hitching (but remember not to use the thumbs-up sign, which is considered unforgivably rude in Iran).