The ferries across the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz separating Iran from the Arabian peninsula go between ports in Iran domestically, between Iran and Kuwait and between Iran and United Arab Emirates. They carry both cargo and passengers.
Ferries between Iran and Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia are not currently operating.
Green: operating regularly
Orange: operating irregularly
Red: not in operation
The following international routes are currently operating.
- Bandar Abbas (Iran) – Sharjah (UAE): cargo + passenger, 12 hours
- Bandar Lengeh (Iran) – Dubai (UAE): cargo + passenger, 6 hours
- Bandar Lengeh (Iran) – Dubai (UAE): passenger, 4 hours
- Khorramshahr (Iran) – Kuwait: passenger, 4-6 hours
Iran island routes
Inside Iran, several ferries go to its Gulf Islands.
- Ferries to Kish Island
- Ferries to Qeshm Island
- Ferries to Hormoz Island
- Cruise ship between Kish and Qeshm islands
- Ferry to Kharg Island (not accessible to foreigners)
The following international routes no longer exist.
- Bushehr (Iran) – Kuwait City
- Bushehr (Iran) – Doha (Qatar)
- Bushehr (Iran) – Manama (Bahrain)
- Khasab (Oman) – Bandar Abbas (Iran) (passenger, 2 hours)
- Khasab (Oman) – Qeshm (Iran) – Khasab
Once in Khasab, you can continue your journey along the coast with other ferries in Oman.
Buying a ticket before arriving to the port has proven a big hassle for many. If you are not on a deadline and are not traveling in high season, just buy it just before you leave, the boat should not have filled up. Make sure to bring your passport.
If you are in need of a ticket in advance: most travel agencies in Iran can book it for you in advance, but as we said, it has proven complicated in the past.
In Bandar Abbas
Go directly to the Valfajr office inside the South Seas Shipping Company building 27°09.925’N 56°13.763’E. Take a left on the second floor, then it is the second to last office on your left. You get the option to pay for your vehicle in Bandar Abbas (in rials) or on arrival in UAE (in dirham).
If you do not have a car or motorbike, you can also go to Bala Parvaz Travel Agency on Imam Khomeini Street.
If coming by car or motorbike, you can pre-arrange your travel details with Mr. Zarei +989175079270 who will assist you with the tickets and paperwork once you arrive. It is recommended to arrive to Bander Abbas one day before intended departure specially if you are travelling with a vehicle.
In Bandar Lengeh
Contact Valfajr Shipping at +98 762 222 0252 or any of the following extensions ( following 0098-762 222) 1786, 0314, 0759, 2457, 4124, 3448, 1889, 3632. E-mail: [email protected]. They are located on Imam Khomeini Boulevard, opposite the airline office.
Al Hili Marine Services is recommended, especially for drivers. Address: Al Khan Road, Sharjah Ground Floor, Al Ikhias Tower, PO Box 27522, Sharjah (GPS: 25.329202, 55.367520 or 25°19’45.1″N 55°22’03.1″E, directions), Tel: +97165288575 or 04-2236060 Fax: +97165288574, [email protected]
Al Rais Sharjah is another option. Address: Ground Floor Shaikha Hamda Bldg., Al Zahra St.
In Dubai, you can contact Al Rais Travel (Tel 042352352) – Address (moved further up the street in 2017): SHK Latifa building, Baniyas Street (exactly opposite the Sabkha Abra station in Deira where small boats cross the Dubai Creek). [email protected], 04-2236060 – Nearest metro station: Baniyas Square.
Another address for Al Rais might be: Mina Road, Bur-Dubai, ART Tower Building Tel: + 971 4 393 3333, [email protected], 09:00 – 18:00 / Sunday – Thursday.
Or you can contact the shipping company Valfajre-8 directly in Dubai – Phone: 00971 4 3525000. You can also buy tickets directly in the shipping terminal with Good Luck Shipping (Valfajre-8 under another name).
Combined Shipping Company is located at Kuwait city, Shuwaikh port, Jamal Abdul Naser street. It’s 500m west on the road that runs along the shore in the direction of Jahra town (where bus nr. 13 from the airport turns to the city center).
In the big blue-glass building, there are a few signs saying: ferries to Iran. Tel: 24830889 or 24830130.
Valfajre-8 is located at Imam Khomeini Boulevard, at the end of Waterside Boulevard. Tel: (063242) 24940. Travel agencies can also do it for you, eg. Shirin Gasht travel agency in Khorramshahr.
Skahid Bahonar port
The port where ferries to Dubai and Sharjah in UAE leave is the Skahid Bahonar port. The entry to the port is located at 27°09.268’N 56°12.368’E.
If you do not have your own transport, it is best to take a taxi, since the center of Bandar Abbas is 10-12 kilometers away (20 minutes, 2-3$). Be aware that Bahonar is not only a trade port, but also Iran’s main naval base. Be sure to choose the correct entry to avoid nasty looks or arrests.
There are no money exchange services at the port.
Shahid Haqani port
Ferries to Qeshm and Hormoz leave from Shahid Haqani port in the center of Bandar Abbas (Gmaps).
A sleepy port town with a big history, Bandar Lengeh is the start and finish of the Bandar Lengeh – Dubai ferry. From here, you can also take a boat to Kish island.
Nearby Bandar Kong was the capital of Iranian dhow sailing, but for most travelers, these 2 towns will not hold enough interest to warrant a stop over.
If you are taking the ferry here, some travel tips:
For ferry tickets, contact Valfajr Shipping at +98 762 222 0252 or any of the following extensions ( following 0098-762 222) 1786, 0314, 0759, 2457, 4124, 3448, 1889, 3632. E-mail: [email protected]. They are located on Imam Khomeini Boulevard, opposite the airline office.
From the port of Bandar Lengeh, you can get to the bus terminal by taxi (just 2 km ahead) and take a night bus to Shiraz or a bus to Bandar Abbas (3,5 hours). You can change money at the nearby bazaar in the city center.
Sharjah: Port Khalid
The Sharjah port is called Port Khalid and is located at 25°21.457’N 55°22.614’E.
When leaving Dubai
To get there from Dubai with public transport, get a bus from Al Ghubaiba bus station, Dubai, to Sharjah, ask to get off at nearest stop to Khalid Port. Taxis will take you to port for 10-15 dirhams.
The passenger terminal is behind the customs office. For passengers without a vehicle, check in there and get a boarding card, and check in any luggage you don’t want to take on board. Wait in the passenger waiting room until you get sent through to immigration in adjoining room to be stamped out of UAE, and then bussed to the ferry.
When arriving from Iran
There are no exchange offices inside the immigration building in Port Khalid, but there is an ATM. Once you get out of the port there are only expensive taxis that ask for 50$ to take you to the center of Dubai. If you walk 5 min out in the streets you can find taxis with taximeter but you need some UAE cash.
There are no exchange offices or ATMs once you exit the port. To be safe, exchange some dirhams in Iran in advance, and try to get rid of all your rials in Iran. Exchanging Iranian rials can be a challenge in Dubai. Get rid of it before getting on the boat in Iran, or try Salim exchange.
Dubai: Port Rashid
The Dubai port is called Port Rashid, not to be mistaken with Port Khalid in Sharjah, which offers ferries to Bandar Abbas.
To get to Port Rashid by public transport, take the metro and get out at Al Ghubaiba Station. From there, go to the nearby big open-air bus station. You can take bus number 9 or 12 and go out at the first station called Port and Customs.
When you get out of the bus, head in the direction of the sea to reach the next parallel street; somewhere on the left there will be a sign for the Passenger Terminal or the Driving Institute which is nearby. There is also a small supermarket nearby.
When arriving from Iran, once you get out of the port there are only expensive taxis that ask for 50$ to take you to the center of Dubai. If you walk 5 min out in the streets you can find taxis with taximeter but you need some UAE cash.
There are no exchange offices in the Dubai port, but there is an ATM. To be safe, exchange some dirhams in Iran in advance.
Bandar Abbas – Sharjah ferry
The ferry between Bandar Abbas in Iran and Sharjah in UAE is both a cargo and a passenger ferry, operated by Valfajre-8 (Valfajr) shipping. It takes about 12 hours. For drivers, this ferry comes recommended as sailings are more regular and staff is rumoured to be more professional compared to the Bandar Lengeh ferry.
Since 2018, a company called Karaneh lines also runs trips, but no cargo for now, it seems (bicycles are ok). Updates and questions collected here.
Boats run 2-3 times per week in each direction. Timetables change very often, so check with travel agents for the latest info. Around Nowruz (March 21) not all boats are running.
Sailing time is around 12 hours, but patience is what you need. Delays are common (think hours, not days like with the Caspian Sea Ferry) and if you are heading south, the customs/passport control at Sharjah Khalid port takes hours as well, even if you do not have a car.
A passenger ticket costs around 300 dirham or $80-90 (November 2015- March 2018). If you bring a car, it seems the price for the passenger ticket ranges from 50$ to 100$. The difference could be just commission from the shipping agent. Perhaps haggling could work. Definitely with the car, if you have time, haggling has been proven to work.
If you are coming without a car: there is 75 kg of luggage included in the ticket price. This includes a bicycle if you have one.
There is an additional 35 dirham to be paid at Port Khalid/Sharjah UAE immigration service on exit so don’t spend all your money before leaving.
For passengers without vehicle
For some reason you are supposed to check in 3-4 hours in advance, way in advance of sailing. The summer is busiest, and the ferry can be booked out in advance. In other times, you will have a row of 4 seats to yourself, to stretch out and sleep. Earplugs and an eye mask are a help if you plan to sleep… there are films playing and bright strip lighting. The prayer rooms are also a good place to sleep.
Airco points to 18 degrees, so bring a blanket. Dinner (rice and meat) and breakfast (flat bread, cheese spread, jam & tea) are provided free of charge and there are drinking water dispensers. A small shop opens before dinner and breakfast, you can pay in rials.
With the car or motorbike
Depending on the size and weight of your vehicle we estimate the following total prices in 2015: 250-400$ for a motorbike, 500-800$ for a car.
From Bandar Abbas
On the day of sailing, you need to be in Bahonar port at 8-9am already in order to do all the paperwork. Bring enough food; there is a canteen on the second floor of one of the customs buildings that serves lunch, though.
At the port, you need to visit lots of different little offices for different documents, definitely more than 10, it will take hours. The offices close after lunch, so it pays to start early, but brace yourself for a long, boring wait after the paper run.
On the ferry, you can sneak back into your car to sleep more comfortably.
In Sharjah, you can take out money from the ATM in the immigration building if you have not payed for the car transport yet. Getting out of customs will take around 4 hours.
Al Hili Marine Services (see address in the ports section above) can organise everything. They are very efficient. Take enough cash, as they do not accept payment by credit card.
Ferry Marshall in Sharjah is Mr Raju, cellphone # 0503078536.
On the ferry, you can sneak back into your car to sleep more com-fortably. When entering Iran, make sure you are doing it outside of a public holiday or Ramadan (offices close early), to ease your journey.
Once in Bandar Abbas, you can get a taxi driver hanging around the port to be your fixer for around 50$, all document handling is in Persian, it will be money well-spent. Expect it to take 4-5 hours.
Bandar Lengeh – Dubai ferry
The ferry between Bandar Lengeh in Iran and Dubai in UAE should be both a cargo and a passenger ferry, operated by Valfajre-8 (Valfajr) shipping. For drivers, though, the Bandar Abbas – Sharjah ferry comes recommended as sailings are more regular and staff is rumoured to be more professional.
On top of that, the latest info we got (November 2018) stated no cargo was allowed. Meaning Bandar Abbas would be your only option as a self-driver. More info welcome!
2 ferries ply this route. The first is both passenger ferry and cargo ship and takes 5-6 hours. The second is a fast passenger ferry. Crossing time equals 4,5 hours.
Timetables change often, so check with travel agents for the latest info.
The price seems fixed: 310 dirham for one way + 40 dirham to pay for exiting the port. You have to pay by cash. It is almost the same price for the ferry from Sharjah to Bandar Abbas which costs 300 dirham but takes 12 hours.
On the boat
Lunch or dinner is included in the price. It’s not vegetarian.
November 2018: We bought the ticket for Saturday on Thursday evening (Friday offices are closed) in Bandar Lengeh in a travel agency and paid 5 200 000 IRR.
Journey was bumpy, they served meals and tea, we watched 2 movies and arrived in Dubai after 5 hours. In Dubai we had to wait 1 hour on the ferry for the bus that brought us to the immigration. Immigration took some time. All in all it was easy, took just much longer than expected including the waiting.
More reports are welcome in the Bandar Lengeh – Dubai ferry forum thread.
Khorramshahr – Kuwait ferry
The ferry operates twice weekly between Kuwait City and Khorramshahr, Iran. Timetables change often, so check with travel agents for the latest info.
Buying a ticket
Budget around 500 000 tomans for a ticket (2019).
On the boat
Check-in is 3 hours in advance and the ride takes 5-6 hours. Food and tea is included in the ticket, as well as full-volume Iranian movies or football games.
Iran island boats
Ferries and speedboats operate between Kish and Bandar-e Charak and Bandar Lengeh.
It’s not the easiest way to get there (some pacing back and forth between immigration and the ticket office is likely), but if you’re (like us) not an airplane enthusiast, you will prefer this option.
Open speedboats operate between Kish and Bandar-e Charak. It’s around 12$, 45 minutes sailing from 8am to 4pm. Boats leave when full.
It’s a comfortable 90 minutes to Bandar-e Charak (15$ ticket). Boats to Bandar-e Lengeh take 2 hours and cost around 20$. Operating times depend on traffic, meaning frequent during holidays, down to no service at all in the low season. Boats leave in the morning from Kish and return after lunch from the mainland.
Shipping company is Valfajre-8, located in the shipping building on Sanaee street near the port, opposite Amir mosque. Tel: (0764) 442 1767, 442 1769, 442 4415.
With the car
If you are taking some form of motorised transport, you can only stay for 7 days on Kish. If you are taking your car, you can get on the ferry from Charak, but with a van or motorhome, you need to go to Aftab for a special permission (OSM / Gmaps).
Once you are on Kish you will be required to see immigration police before you can leave the harbour (GPS 26.5640758,53.9977504, if you see the exit gate of the harbour on your left keep driving straight for about 200 meters). Make sure you have some kind of hotel card or reservation or at minimum a hotel name where you are supposedly staying.
Questions and reports are gathered in the Kish island ferry forum thread.
There are 5 ways to get to Qeshm Island from Bandar Abbas and back.
Ferry boat is the most comfortable if you tend to get seasick. Inform at the port which one is leaving when.
Between Bandar Abbas’ Shahid Haqani Port and Bahman Port in Qeshm you have following options.
- speedboat: 30 minutes, 3$
- covered motorboat: 40 minutes, 3,5$
- ferry boat: 50 minutes, 4$
You can also take a direct bus from different cities in Iran (eg. Esfahan) to Qeshm island. The terminal for these buses is Dargahan, 15km west from the town of Qeshm. The bus takes the car ferry from Bandar-e Pol to Laft-e Kohneh near Laft.
By car you can take this ferry as well (around 10$ one-way). The ferry works around the clock, ferries leave when full.
Talk of a ferry between Qeshm and Hormoz island seems to be just that. Talk.
There are 2 ways to get to Hormoz island from Bandar Abbas. By far the easiest will be by open speedboat (3$, 40 minutes) from Shahid Haqani port to the quay in Hormoz. Boats leave often early in the morning but far less often in the afternoon. Time your return before 3pm to be sure of a ride back to Bandar Abbas.
The other way is to hire a dhow. The sailing time will be much longer and you will need to make arrangements in advance. There is no scheduled boat from Qeshm island to Hormoz.
Travel by dhow
Dhow dinner cruises are a popular tourist attraction in Dubai and Khasab, Oman. That’s not what we are talking about, though.
Away from the “romance” of Dubai harbour, motorized dhows are still used by traders crossing the Persian Gulf from Iran to UAE and Oman with goods. Can you hitch a ride with them?
Our experience says UAE or Omani Immigration authorities do not allow foreigners to travel to Iran on small dhows from their ports – these captains have special travel permits allowing them to come and go as they please and are not sufficiently regulated to satisfy Immigration officials that you will arrive safely. Dhow captains are generally more than willing to oblige.
You can get a dhow to Hormoz island, if you arrange it in advance. It will be a motorized dhow, not a sailing dhow.
For a longer journey on a sailing dhow, your best bet is to look further south on the shores of Eastern Africa.
Bandar Kong, next to Bandar Lengeh, is the ancient dhow capital of Iran, interesting in its own right for those with a passion for the history of dhow sailing in Iran (courtesy of Ali Parsa). This might be a good place for those with the time to sniff around – we are sure interesting experiences can be had by those willing to dig a bit deeper.
Understand that rough weather might delay boats. War is another issue: the United States has a lot of firepower floating around the Persian Gulf. Naval exercises and conflicts might cause scheduling problems.