Introducing Persian Gulf
Whether you’re watching the sun set over the Gulf, scrambling over the ruins of the Portuguese castle at Hormoz, or just dropping down several gears to the ultra-relaxed pace this region operates, you can’t escape the fact that the Persian Gulf offers a different experience to the rest of Iran. There’s the geographical contrast – the coast and islands of the Gulf itself – but the major difference comes from the variety of people and how they live.
The history of the Gulf is tied inextricably to trade. Africans, Arabs, Indians and Europeans as far back as Alexander the Great have passed by this way, some finding business so good they’ve set up shop and stayed. The result is a rich hybrid of ancient Persia and Arabia that is best seen in Bandari communities, such as Bushehr, Hormoz and Minab. These communities are unusual in Iran, with most Bandaris being Sunni Muslims, speaking Arabic at home and wearing more colourful clothes. They’re known as Bandaris because they live in bandars (ports). Qeshm Island is probably the highlight of the Gulf, and its tiny village of Laft is the jewel in its sun-scorched crown. Sitting with the locals as the sun sets over the forest of badgirs (windtowers) and lenges (traditional wooden boats) is almost worth the trip to the coast by itself.
Unfortunately, most travellers avoid the coast because of inconvenient transport times, relatively expensive accommodation, the distance from Iran’s mainstream destinations and the enervating heat. Winter days often enjoy clear skies and 25°C, but it’s hot by March and diabolically hot – like, 50°C – in summer.