5 of the Best Things to do in Socotra

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Socotra, a tiny island located off the southern coast of Yemen, and to the east of Somalia is as off-the-beaten-path as it gets for a travel destination. The island is the largest of four in the Socotra archipelago and is controlled by Yemen. Geographically more similar to Africa than the Middle East, it is dominated by large limestone plateaus and coastal plains. Classed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the archipelago also boasts an almost unrivalled array of endemic flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth. In this article, we’ll discover five of the best things to do in Socotra during your visit.


Discover the unique Dragon Blood Tree

One of the more than 700 endemic species to be found on Socotra Island, the Dragon Blood Tree is arguably the most impressive. An upturned and dense crown of branches makes the tree look something like a mushroom, whilst the red resin that oozes from the tree is what gave it its name. No trip to Socotra is complete without checking out some of these trees. Dragon Blood Trees grow in various places across the island, but Dixam Plateau and Homhil are two of the best places to see them for yourself.


Unwind on Secluded Beaches

Socotra boasts some of the most pristine tropical beaches in the entire world. Untouched by civilization and without the huge crowds which descend on the Caribbean, Bali, or the Costa del Sol, these beaches are a great place to get away from it all. Head to Qalansiyah Beach, Shoab Beach or Aomak Beach for a relaxing day by the sea, surely one of the best things to do in Socotra. The pristine and untouched nature of these beaches adds to the charm of Socotra. The majority of Socotra’s limited hotels, campsites, and tourist infrastructure are on the coast, so you are never too far from an unspoiled beach.


Hike through the Haghier Mountains

Hiking is one of the best things to do in Socotra, thanks to the island’s untamed wilderness, diverse flora and fauna, and dramatic landscapes. The interior of Socotra is dominated by the rugged Haghier Mountains, which are a great place to enjoy hiking and trekking. Put on a good pair of walking boots and head out to discover the surreal landscapes and diverse flora of Socotra. As you climb, you will be able to enjoy magical views across the island and out to sea. Bring your binoculars for the chance to spot some of the island’s endemic birdlife, including the Socotra buzzard, the Socotra bunting and the pretty Socotra starling, with its grey head and orange flashes.


Visit the Detwah Lagoon

Tucked away on Socotra’s north-west coast, Detwah Lagoon, with its picturesque beach and vibrant blue waters, is a great place to visit. The lagoon is surrounded by sand dunes and is a popular spot for walking, wildlife-spotting and photography. It offers a tranquil environment to relax and appreciate the island’s nature. It is also an important nursery habitat for fish and the waterbirds which feed on them. It is also a breeding area for the rare Egyptian vulture.


Stargazing in the Wilderness

Socotra Island has minimal light pollution, making it an ideal location for stargazing. The night skies on the island are incredibly clear, allowing you to observe a stunning array of stars and constellations. Consider camping in designated areas or taking a guided night sky tour to fully appreciate the beauty of the celestial display unique to this remote and pristine location.


Experience Local Culture in Hadibu

Although the main charm in visiting Socotra is uncovering the island’s incredible natural wonders, it is recommended to spend at least a short amount of time in Hadibu, the island’s main town and capital.  A stroll around Hadibu provides a glimpse into the local culture and way of life. Visit the local markets, interact with the locals and taste some Socotran dishes and delicacies. The local fish and seafood dishes are particularly noteworthy, being the main source of meat on an island without much livestock. A couple of hours is plenty of time to spend in the town, but worth doing to enjoy a glimpse into local life for Socotran residents.


Socotra is a travel destination like no other, home to a wealth of unique wildlife and plants, and a friendly local population with a fascinating culture. Tourism is still in its infancy, with limited infrastructure meaning the island is a great place to switch off from the modern world. Most of the best things to do in Socotra involve interacting with the great outdoors, and on an island with such breath-taking natural wonders, this is exactly how you will want to experience the island. As a UNESCO-protected reserve, it is important to look after the environment during your visit, and to leave no trace as you explore the island.

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