An Oasis in the Persian Gulf
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I have travelled to Kish twice. It is one of the most southern tips of Iran and is a small island in the Persian Gulf. Many UAE workers (Filipino and South Asian) travel to Kish for visa runs or a quick getaway from Dubai. But on closer inspection, Kish is a unique destination that offers a wonderful taste of Persian hospitality. Persian culture is sophisticated and completely charming. The people are hospitable, highly educated and artistic. Kish really captures all the best of Persian culture and Iranian culture.
Kish is easy to travel to. It is only a 45 minute plane trip from Dubai or Sharjah airport. A 2 week visitor visa is issued on arrival.
The Islamic code is fairly relaxed in Kish and many Iranians come to Kish to relax on the weekends. Women are able to wear open toed sandles and walk without wearing heavy socks (which is required in Tehran). You can pack away the heavy abaya for awhile! It is a popular honeymoon and shopping destination. It is a special economic zone and is tax duty free so duty free shops are plentiful.
It is also a popular destination for divers. Iran's only Padi qualified diving instructor is located in Kish. I got to know Kish's famous diving instructor quite well, and he was full of stories of sucken pirate wrecks nearby. My only regret was that I didn't have enough time to go diving.
Be prepared, summer in Kish is unbearably hot and dry, so the best time to visit is between October to March.
One of the best things to do in Kish is explore the underground water cavern. It is a massive sunken artisan water way and you can easily spend a whole afternoon or morning exploring the caves. During summer it is a welcome break from the heat.
Another must-do is have coffee at the Daroush Hotel. It is a 5 star hotel on the highest point of Kish. You do have to be guest of the hotel or know someone to be able to go to the restaurant, but it is well worth it. If you can't get into the Daroush Hotel, the next best thing is one of the many little cafes and restaurants perched on top of the highest peak park.
Along the beach front is a long line of fabulous cafes and restaurants. I ordered a fish meal and was presented with a whole fish which was just divine. There is plenty of music and dancing and great food.
Despite the relaxed holiday atmostphere, it is not really possible for women to swim on the beach in Kish. There is a small secluded 'womens bathing and swimming area', but there are too many men sitting around just waiting to watch a foreigner get their gear off and swim, so I wouldn't recommend it. If you need to swim, then make sure you book a hotel which has a pool for women (or wait until you get back to Dubai).
The streets are wide Palm tree-lined boulevards that have many artistic scultpures and statues of Iranian poets, musicians and artists. It creates an environment in which all things beautiful about Iran are celebrated. I love it!