It would be a great pitty not to walk in charming Socotri mountains. You can choose from a wide range of treks accoring to your stamina. We went for a three day trek to cross Haghier Mountains: started in wadi Deneghen where we loaded our stuff on a camel. That mae it easier for us to walk and take photos on the way. First night camping in Adho Dimelo Pass where local herdsmen cooked a goat for us ad we spent a locely evening together. The next day, we walked down and up and down again to wadi Azaqalo whene we camped by a small lake (swimming!). The last day we climbed up to Firmihin Plateau, which is the largest Dragon Blood Tree forest on the planet. Having lunch with local people was nice again. Afternoon, we walked down to wadi Dirhor with another lake (swimming!).
Socotra Eco-tours organized the trek for us, bringing camelier Abu Ramzi and his camel. It's not necessary to book much in advance, simply make up your mind, visit Socotra Eco-tours in Hadibo (on 20 Meter Street, the only asphalt street in Hadibo) and they are able to organize it for you for the very next day!
Trekking in the mountains is the best way to see endemic Socotri plants, which don't exist anywhere else in the world: Dragon Blood Trees (dracaena cinnabari), Desert Rose (adenium obesum), Cucumber tree, eight types of Frankincense, Socotri pomegranate etc.
Shouab is a long white sand beach on the western coast of Socotra island. It's a wonderful place with turqoise water, cliffs full of birds, empty clean beach, and unique mangroves. There is no other way to get to Shouab than by a fishermen's boat from Qalansiya. It takes around one hour to reach there. On the way, our fisherman stopped the boat to observe dolphins. Suddently, there were dozens of them, swimming, jumping and making high tone sounds. Such beautiful moments! There is a coral reef near Shouab beach so it's possible to go snorkeling. Or just sunbathe on the beach and swim in lovely glittering water. It's really a paradise.
Since it will be just the sea and you there, don't forget to take enough water and suncream. Also take a plastic bag to cover your camera in case sea waves get high. Sunglasses and head cover are necessary, too. Your tourist guide will give you good advice before you set off. The boat should cost between 12.000 and 18.000 Yemeni rials depending on number of passangers.
During months when the sea is choppy around Socotra, it is recommended to go to Shouab in the morning and get back by 1 pm, before the sea gets too rough.
I can't pick just one thing about this island. But at the top of the list is just to explore it from one end to the other, and if you've a mind, scuba dive along the way, big game fish for world record Marlin, Dolphin, Swordfish, Tuna, or take a camel trek across the island, climb the Hagier Mountains (1500 M) for a view that will take your breath away, snorkel off some of the most beautiful beaches you've ever seen, and so, so mcuh more!
You can hire a fisher boat, complete with fisherman, in Qualanisya to Shoab Beach for roughly 15.000 Yemeni Rial. Usually the boats only go out in the morning between seven and nine and take you for an one hour-ride through the turquoise-coloured coastal waters, along a rugged coastline. The water is so clear you can see lots of fish and stingrays during the boat ride - we even encountered two schools of dolphins. You can negotiate how long you want to be left at the beautiful deserted Shoab Beach, until you will be picked up again. It is likely that your skipper/fisherman will be catching some fish (tuna, kingfish) - you might be able to buy a fresh fish for a bargain. You can bring the fish in any restaurant where they will prepare it for you, or maybe your local guide is able to cook it for you.
This is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen in my entire life. Imagine the most beautiful beach from a travel magazine cover photograph, white sands, turquoise-coloured warm water, an endless horizon, without people, and there you have it. They don`t have that kind of beach in Europe. Even the grand beaches of Australia or South Africa are no real competition. Nuff said.
It is possible to reach Shoab Beach by boat. Hire a passage with a fisherman`s boat for a one-hour-ride and negotiate how long you want to be left at Shoab Beach. Price: roughly 15.000 Yemeni Rial depending on your negotiating skills.
Hadibo, the capital village of Socotra, has no real "sights", but it is a good place to buy provisions if you have run out of water/food, and it is likely the only place with running water if you intend to spend at least one night in a hotel to get a decent shower. There are some decent cafes which serve tea, bread, "ful" and "fassulja". These are also frequented by the local goat community.
If you are into "Star Wars", Hadibo might remind you of the village on the planet Tatooine (without the bar scene).
These hardy trees are abundant in the highland regions of Socotra beginning at 500 m above sea level (they do not exist in the lower regions). With their umbrella-shaped crown they look like giant mushrooms, or like trees planted in with the wrong side up! Good places to see them in Socotra are the Homhill and Diksam highlands.
Qualanisya is a small fishing village that serves as a base for boat trips to the spectacular Shoab Beach on the southwestern shore of Socotra (ca. 15.000 Yemeni Rial). The village itself is not spectacular, though the view from the boat on the town is rather nice. Qualanisya is also close to the incredibile Qualanisya Beach and the Detwah Lagoon, the most beautiful spot on the whole island in my opinion.
The Homhil Plateau is set in the northeastern part of Socotra island. There is a camp ground (highly recommended for overnight stays) set up by the local community. A toilet/shower is included. They serve breakfast, and they do dinner (i.e. slaughter a goat, if you like). From the camp ground, a great hike leads through a mountain valley with many dragonblood trees and truly great vistas, and then down to the coast. You have to hire a local guide for cheap 1.000 Yemeni rial. The hike itself is pretty easy, but stout boots are required, and the heat can be quite demanding. Your driver can then pick you up at the end of this 2 hour hike.
Distance from Hadibo: roughly 50 km
What a gorgeous place ! Qualanisya Beach stretches in a long arc of white sand against the background of coastal dunes and hills and Detwah Lagoon. A beach taken from a fairy-tale. The camping ground near Detwah Lagoon can be crowded for Socotra standards due to the popularity of this beach.
When we arrived, the beach was pretty crowded as a group of Saudi businessmen who flew to Socotra as part of a Team Building Incentive - Event did a photo stop there, but they were out in a rush and we were alone again.
Egyptian Vultures are omnipresent on Socotra island. You just can`t miss them, even in the cities. One morning while camping near Diksam Plateau, we counted eight vultures hopping around our breakfast site looking for spoils.
The Diksam Plateau is a unique, otherworldly landscape right in the center of Socotra. This place looks so unusual it could as well be on another planet. The ground is arid, barren, and dotted with rugged black stone. The dragonblood trees are abundant here, looking like giant mushrooms from outer space. Lots of vultures circle overhead in the warm winds.
The Diksam Plateau is reached by a well sign-posted tar road in good condition that has recently been built through the mountains. The last stretch of the road is only manageable by 4WD.
If you drive along the northeastern part of Socotra, you cannot miss the giant dunes that stretch for kilometers along the mountains. It is great fun to climb them, but pretty exhausting in the unbearable heat.
If you drive past the giant dunes near Shona (northeastern part of the circular island road) for around 15 -20 minutes, you will reach the fantastic beach of Arher (or Ar-Ar). This magnificent long beach is great for swimming and snorkeling, we saw stingrays, lots of fishlife and even dolphins.
The only setback is that it is crowded with crabs at night - you might want to consider to camp a little farther off the beach (see my tourist traps-Socotra entry for more details).
While out on a boat trip to the marvelous Shoab Beach, we encoutered a couple of dolphins. Friends who did the boattrip before confirmed that it is quite usual to spot dolphins during the boat ride. Even from the shore it is sometimes possible to see them in Socotran waters, where they seem to be quite frequent.