Kish Island is a beautiful island and tourist resort located on the north east of the Persian Gulf (Khalij-e Fars) about 17 km (10.2 miles) from the southern offshore of the mainland Iran. Kish is a free trade zone.
Kish Island, often called the Pearl of the Persian Gulf has an area of 90 km² (36 sq. miles). It is known for being a beautiful resort in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, a unique coral island. Kish Island has relaxed laws in comparison to the rest of Iran. Like mainland Iran, the people of Kish are generally friendly and hospitable.
- Kish Tourist Affairs Office: +98 764 4424423
Foreign nationals do not need a visa at the authorized arrival and departure points in Kish Island. At Kish International Airport, the officials will take your photograph and fingerprints, and stamp your passport, allowing you to stay up to 14 days on the island. If you are western, you may be sternly questioned as to the purpose of your visit. Make sure you bring all verification paperwork including hotel reservations with phone numbers, etc.
Upon arrival at Kish Airport, all female passengers will be immediately escorted to a room and very politely ordered to wear headscarves and long robes to cover their entire body. The clothing is available at the airport, and passengers are expected to return them when leaving Kish. Female visitors may be detained for a period of time under the perception that they 'might have difficulty finding their way around the island'. However, the staff in general are very polite, but speak little English.
- 1 Kish International Airport (KIH IATA). The most popular airline with the most regular domestic and international flights in Kish is "Kish Airlines". Kish Air has international flights to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Kish Air also offers domestic flights to Iran's main cities, including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad.
- Kish Airport: ☏ ,
- Kish Air: ☏ ,
- Airport Passport Office: ☏
Women who do not have appropriate Muslim dress (head scarves, long smocks or dresses) will be provided with them upon arrival prior to passing through customs and immigration. These are loaned free of charge, and should be returned upon leaving.
Driving by car is easy. There is only one route to Kish Island. If you are driving from Tehran, take care on the road and be alert of the highways and the pedestrians.
There are private buses that will take you from Tehran and other main cities to Kish Island. This is probably the safest way of travelling in Iran. Private buses in Iran are inexpensive compared to other countries in the Middle East.
There are boats that will take you from the port cities of Bandar-e Abbas, Bushehr and Chahbahar. As of June 2009 this has reportedly been suspended.
If you are energetic, walking is your best option. However, like the rest of Iran, there are plenty of taxis but without meters. It is advisable to agree the fare in advance, and to make sure that the driver understands where you want to go. The majority of taxis on the island are Toyota Camrys and are fully air-conditioned. The normal fares are usually US$2-5 depending upon the distance, which is never too long as the island is rather small.
Be careful to check your change as some taxi drivers will take advantage of tourists and attempt to short-change.
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Popular tourist attractions
- 1 Kish Dolphin & Crocodile Park. The Dolphin Park an ocean atrium, and offers dolphin and other sea mammal shows. The entrance fee is US$46.
- 2 The Green Tree Park. The park with the oldest trees on the island. Entry is free for all.
- Mysteries of the World Zoo. A small zoo with exotic animals on display. The entrance fee is US$5.
- 3 Greek Ship. The historic and famous old ship resting on one of the shores of Kish Island. It has become a major tourist attraction. It is a beautiful scenic area, and you can bring food for a picnic and sit in a shaded area. Entry is free.
- Giant Bird Sculpture. You can climb up inside of it.
- 4 Underground Town of Cariz (Kariz). More than 2,500 years old, it has been converted into an underground town 16 metres below the surface, and with an area of more than 10,000 square miles. The entrance fee is US$5.
- 5 The Ancient Town of Harireh. Ruins of stone buildings in an area 3 by 1 kilometre. The structures were built of sandstone, with some plaster on the walls. Some were originally a number of storeys in height. Harireh town is estimated to be 800 years old, and is thought to have been destroyed by a powerful earthquake. Entry is free.
- 6 Marjon Beach Park. Entry is free.
Snorkeling on the beaches of Kish Island is said to be amongst the best in the world, while the scuba-diving offers an even more spectacular insight of life beneath the waters. A variety of other water sports are also available: jet-skiing, sailing, fishing, parasailing, reef walking, coral viewing, boating and water-skiing are some of the popular ways to enjoy yourself when visiting the Island. A variety of other water sports are also available. The Kish coastline is one of the least dangerous coasts in the world. Kish has gorgeous white sandy beaches for relaxing walks.
Women-only beaches are available for the female tourists to the Island. Women do not have access to most beaches, or to the prime snorkeling areas. There used to be an "international beach" where male and female foreign tourists could swim together, but it has been closed by the government.
Contrary to the above information regarding the Greek Ship, there is no restaurant on board what remains of the historic ship. Still, this is a beautiful island - and you could bring food with you and enjoy the site while sitting at a shaded table nearby.
Keep in mind that Kish Island is an integral part of Iran and many western nations have embargoes on Iranian goods. Exceptions exist for certain things, but most of what you'll find in the malls here may be confiscated if discovered on your return home.
Kish is a trade free zone, making it a good place for shopping and trading. The price of goods in Kish are notably cheaper than in mainland Iran. Many Iranians and tourists visit Kish to purchase duty free clothes, electronic goods, cosmetics, etc. There are a number of large shopping centres, most of them situated in the eastern part of the island. Due to the daytime heat, most shops are closed from 13:00 until around 17:30. Some stay open until late into the night. The shopping malls in Kish cater to every taste. However, be prepared to find numerous fake American and European brands such as Gucci, Prada, Diesel, The Gap and Starbucks. One exception is the 'Ikea' store, which imports genuine Ikea merchandise.
- 1 Paradise 1 International Mall.
- 2 Paradise 2 International Mall.
- The Paniz International Mall.
- Zaytoon International Mall.
- 3 Morvarid International Mall.
- Venus International Mall.
- Marjon International Mall.
- Arab Bazaar.
- 4 Kish Trade Centre.
It is not difficult to find work on the Island. If you are sociable and hospitable, working in cafes and restaurants is fairly easy. If you are looking for work in the commercial and tourist sector, you must have at least some experience and knowledge of the Iranian economy and of Kish Island.
Most people on Kish Island work from 09:00 to 17:00, including the government employees. On Thursdays, government employees work from 09:00 to 13:00.
Kish Island offers a wide selection of restaurants which range from Persian to International cuisines. Some of the most well-known restaurants include:
- Boof Fast Food Restaurant, Pardis II Mall, ☏ . Kish's answer to McDonald's.
- Espadana Restaurant, ☏ .
- Papa Restaurant, ☏ .
- Hadee's. Pizzeria.
- Kish KFC. Kish Fried Chicken.
- Asal Kish Restaurant, ☏ .
- Pars Khalij Buffet, ☏ .
- Nahange Sefid. A variety of Iranian food (live music).
- Shandiz Safdari. Shishlik (lamb chop grilled) accompanied by Iranian Rice and Laban (Yoghurt) drink. expensive.
- Kooh-e-Noor. The 5-star restaurant of Sadaf International Hotel. The restaurant has a "cave" theme. 'Kooh-e-Noor' is translated as "the mountain of light", and is also the name of one of the world's largest diamonds.
- Pavion Restaurant, ☏ .
- Nagshe Jahan Restaurant, ☏ .
- Paayaab Restaurant, Olympic Boulevard Olympic Square, ☏ .
Like mainland Iran, alcoholic beverages are not served on the Island. The tea is light, good in taste and is kept at every home, shop and other social places.
'Cafe Aquarium' (ground floor of Pardis II Shopping Mall.) This popular hangout serves "Starbucks" coffee, Italian style sandwiches, banana splits, and fresh fruit juice to a young, hip crowd.
Accommodation in Kish is slightly more expensive than mainland Iran, however it is not extortionate. Kish Island has a range of nice villas, hotels and guest houses for tourists. Hotel reservations must be made through a travel agency in Tehran, which may be difficult if you are not Iranian and/or do not speak Persian.
- Alighapou Hotel, ☏ .
- 1 Fanoos Hotel, ☏ .
- Ghasedak Hotel. Mainly catering for Chinese expats. It is fairly basic but has friendly staff and is located in walking distance to the jetty and some malls.
- 2 Eram Grand Hotel, ☏ . A 2-star hotel.
- 3 Tatilat Hotel, ☏ .
- Maryam Hotel, ☏ . Built as a luxury hotel, it is gradually becoming more run-down. The lobby is still quite impressive, however, and the rooms are nice. Customer service is a lost art.
- 4 Sunrise International Hotel, ☏ . A nice and clean place. Each suite comprises of a double bedroom, a living room with sofas and a television, a small kitchenette with a fridge and two modern bathrooms. The cost of a taxi from the airport is around US$2.5. Has a cosy restaurant and coffee shop.
- Dariush Grand Hotel, ☏ .
- Sadaf International Hotel, ☏ .
- Shayan Hotel.
- Parmis hotel, ☏ .
- Flamingo Hotel. One of the more recent hotels in Kish.
- The Flower of the East. Construction has been on hiatus since 2010.
- Area code for Iran: 0098 (+98)
- Area code for Kish: 0764
- Kish mobile phone code: 0934
There are various internet cafés on Kish Island. Internet speed varies from café to café. A popular internet café is the Kish Cyber Café  at Shayan Hotel, Tel: 4422771-5 (2623), email@example.com. One hour is around US$2.5.
- Emergency services: 110
- Kish Hospital: 4422811 or 4422211
Qeshm is another beautiful island, although not as tourist-friendly as Kish and is mostly visited by those interested in trade. Close to Kish, travel is by boat or plane.
Bushehr for somewhere cultural and beautiful in mainland Iran.