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Socotra practical travel information

Updated May 2023

Your trip

Why do we talk about Socotra and Yemen?

The Socotra archipelago is part of Yemen, with the main island being Socotra. The island is located about 300 km off the coast of Yemen. It’s only accessible by plane (approx. 1.5 hours from the mainland) or by cargo boat (approx. 24 hours). On the island you won’t notice anything about the civil war on the mainland. You can walk around on Socotra alone and the Socotri also feel to some extent independent of the mainland. The island remains part of Yemen and on the island you can also find many aspects of Yemeni culture. The Socotri often have family living on the mainland. 

When is the best time to plan your visit to Socotra?

The best time to travel to Socotra is from October to April. Then you are outside the rain and tornado season and the temperature is also the most pleasant. From May to September, many Socotri also go to the mainland of Yemen to work, as then there’s barely any work available on the island. From October to April, the climate is warm and dry (approx. 30-35 degrees). So no worries about packing too much heavy clothes! However, it can cool down in the evening, so if you go camping, we advise you to bring an extra sweater.

Do I need insurance for my trip to Socotra (Yemen)?

Everyone must take out travel and health insurance before leaving for Socotra (Yemen). Whether Socotra is covered by your policy differs per insurance policy. In most cases this will not be a problem. At CultureRoad we recommend: IATI Travel Insurance, a reliable company that has different insurance options that fits your personal needs. Book now to get a 5% discount!

Do I need a visa for Yemen?

It is important to realize that the visa for Socotra is a special Yemeni visa. With this visa you can only travel to the island and it’s not valid for mainland Yemen. We will also arrange this special visa for you with a tour.

We need a copy of your passport to apply for the visa. Our local partner will then arrange the visa on the island. Afterwards he sends us a copy of the visa. With this copy you get access to the flight to Socotra. When you arrive on the island, our local partner will be at customs with the original document, after which you will receive a stamp in your passport.

What is the time zone in Yemen?

Yemen uses the time zone UCT +2.
Yemen has no difference between summer and winter time.

How can I pay and how much will I spend on Socotra?

Socotri pay with the Yemeni Rial. Make sure you bring enough cash with you on the trip, as there are no ATMs on the island. Euros are generally accepted at banks and exchange offices. However, it is wiser to bring American Dollars. These are accepted everywhere and can easily be changed. You also get a much better exchange rate for Dollars. Make sure you bring neat, crisp banknotes. For the most recent exchange rate, visit

Of course it mainly depends on yourself how much you actually spend, but as a guideline we suggest about € 5 to € 10 per day. You should be able to make it with that amount. If you like to buy souvenirs, you better bring something extra. Diving is expensive on the island. They charge US $ 150 from the beach or US $ 250 from the boat. Tipping local guides is always encouraged. They don’t earn much in this part of the world and it often makes a big difference to them. Of course this is according to your own preference.

Do I have to arrange my international flight to Socotra myself?

We will assist with the flight from Abu Dhabi to Socotra. The flight to Abu Dhabi you will have to arrange yourself. We are always available to advise you when booking a flight. However, most customers prefer to book the flight themselves. Often this is cheaper in terms of price and you can pick your own preferences. 

Can I dive on Socotra ?

There is one place on Socotra where you can dive, it’s called Dihamri Marine Protected Area. Since there is only one person on the island who can arrange this, you must request the dive before your trip. In addition, it is not cheap to dive, since the equipment must come from Oman. The cost for two dives is between US $ 150 and US $ 250. If you go diving with several people, the price will drop. 

Practical information

What is the voltage and which plug should I use in Yemen?

The complete electricity supply in Yemen is 230 Volt / 50 Hz. There is not one fixed plug they use, so we recommend that you bring a universal plug. There is also often power failure. So always make sure to charge everything as soon as there is electricity in the hotel. During most trips you will be without electricity for a few days while camping. So make sure you can go a few days without charging. It is possible to charge in the car.

Is there internet access and can I make calls on Socotra?

The hotel has very limited internet available (if it works). Do not expect a very fast and steady connection, basically only Whatsapp works. There is no mobile coverage on Socotra. So make sure to tell your friends at home that you will be out of signal for a while. Unfortunately, it is currently not possible to buy a local SIM card.

Local culture

What are the local customs on Socotra?

Yemen is a strict Islamic country and the same applies for the island of Socotra. Although they accept that tourists wear different clothes, it is good to think about it. As a woman you are not obliged to wear a headscarf, but in the villages it is very much appreciated. Sadly, you will also encounter a lot of poverty on the island. The luxury that we know in Western countries is not present here. Hotels are very basic and restaurants often only have one dish on the menu. Despite this, the residents are very hospitable and you are welcomed with prying eyes everywhere. 
A few rules to keep in mind:
– Do not take photos of military, military vehicles, or military installations in use.
– Do not take photos of government buildings.
– Always take off your shoes when entering a mosque or house. Never show your shoe sole when you sit down.
– Don’t walk in front of someone who is praying.
– As a man you cannot start a conversation / contact a woman.
– Always ask permission before taking a photo. Don’t just take pictures of women or praying people.

Is it safe on Socotra?

In terms of safety, there is a big difference between the mainland of Yemen and the island of Socotra. Although the mainland of Yemen is very restless, there is little to nothing of the problems on Socotra. So yes, it’s safe to travel to Socotra. You will mainly hear from the residents about the problems on the mainland (and the sadness it brings). The control of the island is currently in the hands of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Most foreign governments give the same travel advice to both Socotra and Yemen. In most cases, that travel advice is also negative for Socotra, even if the safety situation is completely different than on the mainland. This is done simply because the island is too small for a specific advice.

It is safe everywhere on the island. In the evening you can just walk across the street. Because the island is so small, there is a lot of social control among the locals. If the situation changes, we will also respond immediately. We therefore demand a certain flexibility from our travellers. Some of the measures we take on our travels:
– Do not wear your most beautiful jewellery and watches, preferably leave it at home.
– We advise everyone to register with your local embassy. If you have problems on the spot, it is much easier to get in touch with the embassy on site.

Can I take pictures on Socotra?

In general, you can take photos freely. However, there are a few points to keep in mind.
– Do you want to photograph someone? Always ask first is permission for a photograph.
– Don’t just take pictures of women or praying people. Men shouldn’t take pictures of women at all.
– Do not take photos of military personnel, military installations, police officers and government buildings.

Food and drinks on Socotra

The food at Socotra is very limited. Given the location of the island and the war on mainland Yemen, almost everything is imported from abroad. Typical dishes on Socotra mainly consist of fish with rice. Goat or chicken is occasionally available, but this is quite exceptional (though there are a lot of goats on the island). If you are on a special diet, we advise to bring your own snacks. It is not possible to drink water from the tap in Yemen. This is due to a bad filter system for bacteria. In addition, alcohol is prohibited in Yemen.

What should I wear on Socotra?

Although Socotra is quite relaxed in terms of dress code, it is still part of strict Islamic Yemen. It is therefore important to respect local customs and rules. Women are not required to wear a headscarf, but we recommend bringing one with you. A bathing suit is desired when you go for a swim. In general, we advise people to wear a t-shirt with (short) pants / skirt. You also often take different walks during a tour, so make sure you have comfortable walking shoes.

Health and hygiene

Yemen is a developing country with a very turbulent recent history. Healthcare is one of the worst in the world, including on Socotra, where everything has to be imported. The hygiene standard is much lower than in the Western world. Make sure you have enough disinfection gel, sunscreen and insect repellent.
We advise you always to the last (health) risk programs for the region where you’re going to visit. Check with your own government for the latest info about your destination.

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