The largest island in the Persian Gulf, Qeshm is fringed with biologically diverse mangrove forests, attractive beaches and Bandari villages. Its sun-scorched interior features, geologically significant canyons, caves, valleys and hills, most of which are protected as part of the Unesco-recognised Qeshm Island Geopark – bliss for nature-lovers.
Qeshm Island Geopark
Qeshm Island Geopark with a total area of over 30,000 hectares is situated in the west of Qeshm Island. This Geopark spans several areas including Hara Forests, Salt Dome, Salt Cave, mineral springs, Chahku Strait, Tang-e Ali Strait, Bam-e Qeshm, Tandis-ha valley, Kalat Koshtar, and tens of rock and reef formations.
Located just behind Qeshm’s northern ‘fin,’ this forest is an 8,000-hectare biosphere reserve of mangroves, dominated by the species Avicenna marina, which is locally known as Hara, the forests are an important ecological resource. The mangroves, roots, and sludgy beds surface during the low tide, but this forest disappears during the high tide. Nowadays a tourism destination, this forest is mainly used for fishing and a small amount of leaf-cutting for livestock feed. Sea turtles, snakes, crabs, shrimp, herons, cranes, and pelicans are among the animals that inhabit in this forest. The Hara tree, a salt-water plant that is often submerged at high tide, grows to heights of three to eight meters and has bright green leaves and twigs.
Valley of Stars on Qeshm Island
Locals believe that once a star fell on this area creating the rocky shapes that make it seem as if from another planet. In fact, it is the result of years of erosion by heavy precipitation. Five km away from the southern edge of Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf, the valley is composed of marl and sandstone, and the rock formations vary from tall pillars, creating canyon-like paths, to hollowed-out spaces and smooth, round stones. A short hike to the top and you can see the layered mountain rocks embedded with seashells.
These historic caves of Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf are one of the outstanding works of rock-cut architecture. Some experts believe that the caves were formed naturally more than 2,800 years ago due to receding water levels. Many historians argue that Kharbas Caves in Hormozgan province have been a temple or a worshiping place for the followers of Mithraism or Anahita, the goddess of water and seas.