The Socotra archipelago, particularly its main island, is one of the most neglected tourism destinations in the world. A big part of the reason, in addition to Socotra’s remote location in the Arabian Sea, is that it’s Yemeni territory. Despite being 380 kilometers (236 miles) off Yemen’s southern coast, visas, not to mention a precarious security situation on the mainland had kept most people away.
A frequent question I’m asked is whether or not it is still possible to visit Socotra, as Yemen’s civil war continues, bypassing the mainland altogether. The answer is technically yes; but you’re not going to like the details.
Flights To Socotra, Sounds Nice
I visited Socotra and the Yemeni mainland several months before war made it too dangerous for travel – obviously, a lot has changed since then. For a while, flights from Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates near Dubai on Felix Airways to Socotra’s capital Hadibu were infrequent, but flying occasionally. Those flights have stopped completely, despite the claims by a few tour operators in the UAE. I reached out to several of the tour operators in the UAE and Yemen, as well as some airlines who all floated the sentiment they were hopeful regular service would resume soon, despite there being no change for many months.
Believe In Ferries
Some tour operators based out of the UAE sign people up to tours, claiming to arrange Socotra trips by ferry. Practically all are canceled, so be very weary before booking or giving money to any tour operator. All of the other options are fairly unofficial, such as traveler Johnny Ward coaxing his way on to a cement shipping boat, with a lot of local help.
“One whole week of phone calls, paperwork, cash, documents, visas etc. went by… to ensure my visa to Yemen wasn’t canceled… to ensure that immigration in Socotra would accept me via the cement boat.”
Clearly, not a travel plan possible, or desirable, by most of you.
You really have to be persistent, determined, and adventurous to even attempt a trip to Socotra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are substantial costs, not to mention risks, right now in doing so. Travel to Socotra is likely to be practically infeasible as the situation in mainland Yemen continues to deteriorate with more than 70% of the population – most of these people – needing humanitarian assistance.
Those of you still wondering why you might want to visit Yemen can take a look to what was and hopefully what may be again one day.
Really hope this part of the world becomes accessible again!
Thanks for sharing information with us
I went to Socotra in February by the sailing boat where I worked. What an amazing experience 😀
Is that something other travelers can try? (i.e. is it a tour/regular voyage or just your personal luck?) 🙂
HI VALENTINA, CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT BOAT AND WHAT YOUR JOB WAS. HOW AND FROM WHERE YOU SAILED. THANKS [Edit: email removed]
it’s really sad to read this post, I hope one day Socotra becomes accessible again. then I can visit it at least one day in my life
I hope so too.
hope so it becomes a tourist attraction soon.
There are tour operators offering from Oman
Almost none – actually none – of those tours actually happen. I know a few others being planned for 2018 but I would be very cautious about them. The logistics of the trip, practically and politically make it very difficult to organize a tour to Socotra.
any recent updates on the possibility of travelling to Socotra?
I know Wild Junket just started offering a Socotra tour. I know Nellie, so while I want to be optimistic, the political situation is such that I’m very skeptical such a tour will actually be possible. However, feel free to get in touch with her for more details: https://www.wildjunket.com/socotra-tour/