In contrast to Dubai’s bright lights and nightclubs, across the pond, the warm Persian waters offer a laid back island culture with duty-free shopping, water sports and a diving paradise.
It is the pearl of the Persian Gulf, Kish Island.
Kish island is a free-trade zone; so you’re not required to pay any entry visa to enter the island. Flights by Kish Air from Dubai and Abu Dhabi are cheap and very frequent making it easy to make a trip to Kish island off the cuff.
Laws in Kish are lax unlike mainland Iran, however, women folk are still required to wear a free mandatory hijab (scarf) on entry into the country.
Kish Island has minimal traffic and over 50Kms of cycling tracks across the island. This has made cycling a favourite pastime for tourists and residents alike. Renting one is not too expensive and riding is more doable during the winters.
The warm waters of the Persian Gulf are perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling during the autumn and winter months. Clear water shows incredible views of Persian Coral Reefs along with Butterfly Fish, Barracudas, Stingrays, Reef Sharks, Turtles Groupers, Trigger Fish, Trevally Snappers and the occasional Whale Shark can be seen during one of the diving trips in Kish. Furthermore, the diving here costs a lot less than other places like the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.
Kish Island arguably offers the most economically priced water sports too. You can be off on the sea for Jet Skiing, Parasailing, Windsurfing and Banana Boat Rides. Besides, how many people can say they did any one of these activities in Iran!
Again, surprise surprise! Iran’s Kish Island is home to some beautiful white sand beaches and azure waters which are great for swimming and snorkeling. There are some women-only beaches that men are forbidden from entering because of Iranian law banning mixed beaches.
A Greek ship ran aground on the Southwestern coast of Kish and it lies there till today attracting tourists from everywhere. It has become culturally mandatory to click a silhouetted picture of the ship at sundown for every tourist visiting the island in the recent past.
A cave themed restaurant, Koh-e-Noor is one of the best on Kish. It offers some incredible French and other European food in a great setting that is great to spend a quiet late afternoon with a whole lot of natural light flooding the cave.
Dariush Grand Hotel:
A symbol of Kish and tribute to the ancient Persian kingdom of King Darius the Great, this hotel is one of the best in Iran. It takes you back in time with Zoroastrian symbolism but grounded in the present with the famed Iranian hospitality that only an Iranian can show you. The massive fa’ade like an ancient palace is enough to convince you to stay at Dariush for the rest of your stay on the island. The lights after sundown take you back to 500 BCE.
With such a chill vibe for an Iranian island, Kish makes an awesome vacation or just a quick jump from Dubai for the weekend.