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Formerly known as Kishm, Qeshm is the largest island in the Strait of Hormuz, in the Persian Gulf. Its forbidding terrain is dotted with mountainous outcrops, but the interior of the island is spell-binding with its natural beauty. This duty-free island is a designated UNESCO Geopark due to its abundant natural beauty. If you are looking to escape the humdrum of city life, Qeshm Tourism attraction beckons you come, relax and unwind as you take in the local hospitality and enjoy the natural treasures.
Located 22 kilometers from the port city of Bandar Abbas, off the cost of southern Iran, Qeshm is spread over an area of 300 square kilometers. Irregular tabletop hills cover a large portion of the island, with Kish Kuh Mountain soaring to a height of 1,331 feet. The southeastern part of the island is renowned for its salt pans and naphtha springs, but the locals do cultivate dates, melons, local vegetables and cereals.
The dry, desert climate of the island is not as severe as the rest of Iran. This is due to the high humidity levels. The warmest months on Qeshm are from June through August while the coldest months are from October to January. The average temperature in Qeshm is about 27 deg Celsius, making it a great place to commune with nature. It receives approximately 183.2 mm of rainfall annually.
History of Qeshm dates back to the pre-Islamic era, when the Ilamids were ruling the region, the island was known by several names, including Kish, Keshm and Tunb. Even the famous Ptolemy has referred to the island as Aracia or Alexandria in the 2nd century BCE while Ammianus Marcellinus called it Alexandria in the 4th century BCE.
Since the island has a strategic location, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, it was often attacked by Ilamids, Abbasids, Umayyads, the Portuguese and the English.
When the Sassanian Empire was ruling over Qeshm, it was called Abarkawan. During the reign of the Dailamites and Buyids, the island established trade with India, Africa and China. The Cassell’s Bible claims that Qeshm was the location of the fabled Garden of Eden.
Today, Qeshm is administered on behalf of the Iranian government by a sheikh belonging to the Banu Ma’in tribe.
Qeshm has 62 towns and villages. Since this is an island, men are involved in fishing while women keep themselves busy with weaving. According to the last census in 2011, the population was about 117,774.
When you come to Qeshm, be sure to spend some time on the island as it is one of the best places to enjoy fresh seafood. The island’s cuisine is greatly influenced by the historic ties Qeshm had with Asia and Arab countries. Hence, the food is more flavorful and spicier compared to other parts of Iran.
Tea is ubiquitously consumed throughout the island, and you should not think twice about sipping this aromatic brew. It is extremely hydrating and relaxing.
One of the most common food items that you will find in Qeshm is shewerma. This is the Iranian version of the Arabic meat sandwich served in Arab nations. The meat is succulent, delicious and well-spiced. It is served in the local bread that is very close to pita bread in other Middle Eastern nations.
Another version of the shewerma is octopus, shrimp and fish sautéed with a flavorful blend of local spices (turmeric, dried rose petals, cinnamon powder, and cloves), onions and tomatoes. This sandwich is served with pickled cabbage and cucumber.
When you get those hunger pangs and want to satiate them quickly, dig into Sambooseh, which is the Iranian version of a samosa. This fried delicacy is just what you need while you explore the local market.
Wicker baskets made from palm leaves has been a long-time profession on the island. The palm leaves are dyed in vibrant colors and then they are interlaced to create stunning floral and geometric motifs and patterns.
Braid sewing is another handicraft that is prevalent across the island. The weavers create striking designs on fabric using golden ribbon art. Another woven handicraft that you will find fascinating is the Qeshm Kilim carpet. The local women create designs and patterns inspired by the island’s natural beauty and the roles of women on the island.
As a UNESCO Geopark, Qeshm promotes sustainable tourism and ensures its geological and natural heritage is well-preserved. Some of the most popular attractions on the island include:
Hara Marine Forest is home to 25 per cent migratory birds of Iran and about 1.5 per cent migratory birds from the rest of world. This magnificent mangrove forest is best explored in speed boats. Make sure you carry your binoculars with you!
Qeshm even has its own desert, which is small but rather attractive. The soft sand and the undulating sand dunes can be explored on a 4×4. You will enjoy the adrenaline rush that you experience as you traverse the soft, golden sands.
The Geopark is also home to Namakdan Salt Cave and Dome. It is about 100 km from the town of Qeshm and worth the drive. The huge cave network is fascinating. You will receive head torches at the entrance of the cave so that you can clearly see every nook and cranny.
No visit to Qeshm is complete without a visit to the spectacular and mystical Star Valley where you can see nature in all its glory. It is one of the best spots on the island to see a mesmerizing sunset.
If you are a history buff, you will love the remains of an old Portuguese fort. The fort was constructed in the 16th century and used to maintain control over the Strait of Hormuz. Today, just four watch towers, two cisterns and a few cannons remind visitors of this fort’s former glory.