The Farasan Islands (Arabic: جزر فرسان; transliterated: Juzur Farasān) are a large coral-island group in the Red Sea, belonging to Saudi Arabia. The islands are located some 40 km offshore from Jizan, in the far southwestern part of the country, at Coordinates: . They are a protected area and were home to the extinct Arabian gazelle and, in winter, migratory birds from Europe. The largest island of the archipelago is Farasan Island; others include Sajid Island and Zufaf Island.
In 1919, the French discovered petroleum on the islands. For 75 years the Red Sea Oilfields Company maintained a refinery on the islands. As of 1920, the Farasan Islands supported a small fishing industry.
How to get there
The easiest way to get to the Farasan Island is by a free ferry from the Jezan port (N16°53.594' E42°32.134'), the capacity of the ferry is around 50 cars. Boarding two times a day at 6am and 2pm, trip time around 40 minutes. Foot passenger tickets can be reserved online but the website is currently provided in Arabic only.
There are two types of car tickets "confirmed" and "waiting list", if there is more reservations than space on the ferry you might still get the "waiting list" ticket - if cars with reservations do not show up the "waiting list" vehicles will be let in on the first in line first served basis, as there is no information in English remember that the left que is for "waiting list" and the entrance is at N16°53.579' E42°32.160'. There is quite a good chance that all the vehicles will be accommodated but it is strongly recommended to book 2 days in advance or at least come 1 hour before the boarding time. At the time of writing the online booking for cars has been stopped and car tickets must be arranged directly at the port office (N16°53.640' E42°32.399') before departure.
For foot passengers there is a possibility to board one of the private small boats that can carry up to 7 passengers for SR 50 per head, or SR 350 per boat.
What to do
There is not much to do on the island for tourist apart from it being a base for further snorkelling or diving trips, however a fish market (N16°41.984' E42°06.984') is worth a visit - buy a fresh fish and have it prepared for you while you wait and watch the locals play domino.
Boat trips. There is plenty of ads around the island and at the fish market of locals who provide boat trips. Usually the trips will start from the harbour south from the city center (N16°40.927' E42°06.521') and take you for a day trip to Kamah and Dumsuq islands. Two day trips and other arrangements possible. The boat owner will provide water, soft drinks and snacks, they will also catch some fish and prepare a delicious lunch/dinner for your group on a beach. Day trips start from around SR 1800 and the boat can take up to 10 passengers. For a reliable and environmentally conscious boat owner try to call Abu Walid on 0551818537.
Where to stay
There are several options on the island however the Farasan Coral Resort (N16°40.756' E42°06.723'), which can be booked through booking.com - seems to be the most reasonable choice for westerners as no abbayas are supposedly required (the ladies from our group didn't wear abbayas when staying in the property and nobody objected). The resort provides rooms and chalets which are worth a try, especially if you are in a bigger group and want to socialise outside, it is also located within a walking distance from the harbour for boat trips.
Many people skip booking a hotel on the main island and go for 2 or 3 day trips of diving/snorkelling and camping on one of the many islands. Normal itinerary is 1. Fly to Jezan, 2. Take the ferry or a private boat from Jezan Port 3. Get picked up by a boatman from the Farfasan port and 4. Camp on one of the islands. The good thong is that there is the GSM (sometimes with 3G) coverage on the closer islands so one can safely request that the boat will collect them the next day. If you want to camp on the islands it is better to come at full moon.
- Saudi Aramco World: Dreaming of Farasan
- Farasan Island, a diver's paradise, Splendid Arabia: A travel site with photos and routes