Hormuz Island, Iran
“Hormuz is a special place. This island has something magical. There is a special energy that comes from the soil, from the rocks, the air and the water. This energy will heal your body and your soul. Trust me, you will see in a few days.”
This is what Mehran, my host, told me when I first arrived in Hormuz island. It was late at night and I had spent all day travelling–hitchhiking along the south coast of Iran in order to catch the last ferry to the island. I had heard so much about this remote place in the south of Iran called Hormuz. All my Iranian friends suggested I come here, speaking constantly about the beauty of this island. So, during my third trip to Iran, I decided to go off the beaten track and see what was so special about this place.
An Island in the Persian Gulf famous for its natural beauties and its surreal landscape, Hormuz is made up of incredible rock formations and layers of volcanic material that gives the soil a very particular red colour. It’s a very unique place in the world and the colourful red soil, which is very rare, is considered a cultural heritage. Local people believe that the soil has special healing properties and due to its edibility, it is also used to bake fish and bread. The Island is populated mostly by fisherman, as fishing is the main source of income across the Persian Gulf islands. Local people belong to an ethnic group from the southern coast of Iran called Bandari, which means ‘people of the port’. Bandari women wear traditional colourful clothes and a boregheh which is a special mask that covers their face and adds a mysterious look. This mask became part of their traditional costume and they have been wearing it for centuries. It has religious meaning, but it is also used to protect their skin from the strong sun that hits the region. Depending on the shape and colour of the masks, local people can recognize from which ethnic groups women belong to.
My time was spent exploring Hormuz with fellow travellers I met along the way. Wandering around the island, exploring its hidden beaches, colourful caves and salty mountains. We rented bikes and drove on dirt streets, hitched rides from the local fishermen on their boats and watched the sun disappear between the waves of the Persian Gulf.
Hiking under the sun during the hottest times of the day, climbing up and down the rocky mountains and dirt tracks and swimming across the sea to reach secluded and hidden beaches were highlights of how we spent some of our days. During the evenings, we watched kids playing on the streets and some of the local ladies baking a special bread made of flour and red soil. At night we walked for hours in the dark just to reach the beach and look at the glowing plankton in the sea. We were enchanted from the beauty of this place.
Being in Hormuz, it felt as though I was no longer in Iran. All around the island was this strange atmosphere–a feeling of freedom–compared to the rest of the country.
This feeling is the main reason people come from all over Iran to spend days, or even weeks, among the scenic geological wonderland of the island, its red and orange mountains, and the unforgettable sunsets. Hormuz is a popular destination especially among young Iranians that are looking to escape from the oppression of everyday life under the regime. Here, in the most remote corner of the country, away from the cities and immersed in nature, they can be free.
My plan was to spend only a few days in Hormuz and then move on. I ended up staying for more than a week and didn't want to leave. And now that I think about it, Mehran was right.
There is, indeed, something magical about this place.