Traveling to Socotra; My One Week Itinerary for Socotra Island, Yemen
On my journey to every country in the world, Yemen was causing me problems. I had been to 195/197 countries, but with the heartbreaking situation in Yemen, it was impossible to enter. Then I heard about a chance of traveling to Socotra Island. An island belonging to Yemen. That was my chance! To cut a VERY LONG story short, I ended up hitch-hiking on a cement boat to Socotra and became the only tourist in Yemen. I discovered a love for Socotra. And I truly believe it is perhaps the most beautiful island in the world, perhaps along with Svalbard.
I have become so in love with Socotra, that I now run yearly Socotra Tours, so feel free to join me on the next one. And after visiting Socotra that first time in 2017, I then managed to get into Saudi Arabia, and finally, I finished my trip to every country in the world with a celebration in Norway.
I’ve now been to Socotra 3 times, and I’ve created an awesome 1 week itinerary for Socotra during my trips. So check out it if you happen to find yourself traveling to Socotra Island in the near future (hopefully with me!):
Things to Do in Socotra, a One Week Itinerary
If you’re a diehard adventurer with an uncontrollable urge to travel and explore more of our amazing planet. This is the place for you. I am thinking of a fascinating island far out in the Arabian Sea that will leave you speechless! It is the island of Socotra, an isolated, mysterious world with so much to offer. From odd-looking plants and trees to pristine turquoise-blue lagoons, and powdery-white sand dunes, Socotra is unlike any other spot on the planet. It’s truly where Avatar meets Jurassic Park.
The island, however, has never been an easy place to get to, and at present, it is nearly impossible (but you CAN come with me!). Socotra is a territory of Yemen, and since there is a civil war going on in the country. Even in the past, there were only a handful of flights from Sana’a in Yemen, and a few from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The airport has just opened, join with me from Cairo to Socotra.
Day 1: Arrival in Hadiboh and Detwah Lagoon
On the following morning, you will fly into Hadiboh, Socotra’s capital city. At the airport, you can hire guides who will be taking care of you for the rest of your time on the island.
Pretty much all tourists who visit Socotra need to make arrangements in advance for their tour of the island. This is not a place where car rentals and fancy accommodations are readily available. In fact, for the rest of your time in Socotra, you will most likely sleep in a tent, or very basic guest house and eat whatever the catch of the day is, prepared by your guides. WiFi is available in theory in Hadiboh, but it didn’t really work for me for anything outside WhatsApp!
Your first stop will be the unforgettable Detwah Lagoon on the northwestern tip of the island. Here, you will have a chance to swim in the turquoise-blue waters of the Arabian Sea, and take a walk on the beautiful white sand lining the shore. If you wish, you can climb to a nearby observation point and capture a more complete photo of this stunning coastline.
As the sun starts to go down, you will make your way to a nearby campsite, and spend the night in a tent with the fresh air and sounds of the Arabian Sea.
Day 2: Shoab Bay
As the morning sun returns to Socotra, you will enjoy a little more time surrounded by the beauty of Detwah Lagoon, and then head to the nearby village of Qualansiya. There, you will get on a fishing boat and depart for Shuab Bay, considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in Socotra, and perhaps the world. While on the boat, look around for pods of dolphins, as they are known to frequent this area.
Once at Shuab Bay, you will again have a chance to swim and soak in the sun while your guides prepare dinner.
After another day of turquoise blue waters, and pristine white sand, you will retire to your tent and rest under the night skies of Socotra.
Day 3: Dixam Plateau
Often seen as THE highlight of Traveling to Socotra, Dixam Plateau. After an idyllic early morning in Shuab Bay, you will return to the village of Qualansiya again by fishing boat, and continue on land towards Dixam Plateau. Located towards the centre of Socotra, the Dixam Plateau is where you will get a chance to see up close Socotra’s native Dragon’s Blood Trees, which are found in abundance here. The peculiar blood-red resin they produce is the reason for the name. It is the resin that has been used throughout centuries as a medicine for various ailments.
After you spend some time at the Dixam Plateau, you will head down into the nearby Wadi Dirhur Canyon. Here, you will have a chance to take a relaxing swim in a freshwater pool before the night falls. Once again, you will sleep in a tent, this time between the walls of the canyon.
Day 4, The Sand Dunes of Stero
As the first rays of the morning sun reach the bottom of Wadi Dirhur Canyon, you will prepare to leave for your next destination, the sand dunes of Stero. This is a stunning place on the southern coast of Socotra, where giant dunes of white sand sprawl along the shore. Their smooth wavy surface will make you feel like a kid again, enticing you to run, jump, and dive into the soft sand!
After you swim and play in the dunes for a while, you will enjoy another dinner prepared by your guides, and then relax in your tent between the dunes and the Arabian Sea.
Day 5: Dunes at Archer
The next day when traveling to Socotra, you will leave the dunes of Stero, and travel to the northeast part of Socotra to see the sand dunes at Archer. The interesting thing about the sand dunes here is that they are pushed up against the cliffs rising near the seashore. The wind coming from the Arabian Sea is responsible for creating these striking sand piles.
You will be able to enjoy the magnificent vistas of Archer until the last rays of the sun dip below the horizon. Then, you can once again rest at the nearby campsite, lulled by the sounds of the Arabian Sea.
Day 6: Ras Erissel and Ayaft Gorge
Your final day in Socotra will begin with time at the beach at nearby Ras Erissel followed by a trip to Ayaft Gorge.
At the gorge, you will find a very different side of Socotra, as lush vegetation here covers most of the land. The tall cliffs of the gorge protect and isolate this area from the desert climate found throughout the rest of the island.
Ayaft Gorge, Socotra Photo by Yuliya Draganova
One last time, you will spend the night in a tent surrounded by Socotra’s unique beauty.
Day 7: Fly to Sana’a or Cairo
On your last morning on the island, there will be a little time for a short hike in Ayaft Gorge before leaving for the airport.
Your flight will take you back to Sana’a, where you can spend another day or two exploring the history and culture of this unique city.
Is it Safe to travel to Socotra now (2021)?
Yes. I ran 2 tours to Socotra in 2020. And plan to run more in 2021, post-COVID. Traveling to Socotra is 100% safe so email me if you’d like to join.
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