Everything You Need to Know Before Going to Socotra

If you’re considering a trip to Socotra, there are a few crucial details you need to know before you even think about booking. The number one question people ask is, “Is Socotra Safe?” Here’s everything I wish I knew before going to Socotra. If you want to be prepared for the adventure ahead, this post is the ultimate guide to ensure a smooth and unforgettable trip to the island of Socotra. 

Dragon's Blood Tree on Socotra Island with a girl in a red dress standing underneath

Is Socotra Safe?

The number one question people have about Socotra is, “Is it safe?” Given the turmoil on mainland Yemen, this concern is entirely understandable. However, rest assured, the island of Socotra itself is perfectly safe. Despite the unrest on the mainland, the laid-back island lifestyle of Socotra remains untouched. Even the flights are direct from Abu Dhabi so you never have to set foot in mainland Yemen, not even at the airport. Moreover, Socotra’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site underscores its cultural and environmental significance, further affirming its safety and appeal to potential visitors as a travel destination. 

What is so special about Socotra Island?

Socotra Island is special due to its unparalleled biodiversity. The island is home to unique flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world, including the iconic Dragon’s Blood tree. Its white sand beaches contrast with the unusual plant species, creating a stunning natural wonderland. Socotra’s marine life is equally impressive, with playful dolphins gracing its shores. We woke up several mornings to dolphins jumping in the waves on the beach! The island is home to a variety of unique bird species, as well as the cutest, tiniest baby goats! I’ve never seen so many and such tiny goats!! 

Bottle tree on Socotra Island with pink blooms and turquoise blue water background

When is the best time to go to Socotra?

The best time to visit Socotra is during the cooler, drier months from late October to April, when the climate is most pleasant for engaging in outdoor activities. Tours usually stop from June to September during the monsoon season. But the absolute BEST time to go to Socotra is in March, when the unique bottle trees are full of pink blooms! 

Can Americans go to Socotra?

Yes, Americans can go to Socotra for tourism. Socotra remains open to tourists from the United States, and with the assistance of a reputable tour company, Americans can safely explore the island’s unique wonders.

colorful turquoise blue Detwah Lagoon on Socotra Island

Where is Socotra Island?

Socotra is an island in the Indian Ocean, east of the Horn of Africa and south of the Arabian Peninsula. It is part of Yemen, although it has its own distinct culture, language, and ecosystem.

Socotra Island is part of the Socotra Archipelago, with coastlines on the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. This unique island, nestled within the archipelago, is renowned for its striking landscapes. Whether you’re exploring the pristine white sandy beaches or venturing into the captivating interior with its otherworldly plateaus, the Socotra Archipelago promises an unforgettable journey into one of the most intriguing and breathtaking landscapes on the planet.

How to Get to Socotra

The only way to reach Socotra is by booking a flight through a tour company. One highly recommended option is Socotra Specialty Tours, which offers all-inclusive packages for a hassle-free experience. They provide direct, round-trip flights from Abu Dhabi, along with everything you need for an unforgettable adventure.

Dragon's Blood Tree forest on Socotra Island

How Much Does it Cost to Go to Socotra?

The cost to visit Socotra with Socotra Specialty Tours is $2500, which includes:

  • Round trip direct flight from Abu Dhabi
  • Socotra Visa
  • 8-day adventure tour
  • 4×4 vehicle with driver
  • 3 freshly cooked meals + snacks
  • All camping equipment (tent, mattress, pillow, blanket)
  • English-speaking guide
  • Insulated stainless steel water bottles
  • All entry fees for locations

The tour covers everything you need in Socotra. The only additional expenses are your flight to Abu Dhabi, travel insurance (optional), personal spending, and tips for the tour team.

I would also recommend bringing $150 USD per person in cash for tips and souvenirs. 

Preparing for your Trip to Socotra

SIM Card

  • If you want to stay connected, get an Etisalat SIM card when you land in the United Arab Emirates. The signal is not very strong in Socotra, and you won’t have cell service every single day, but you will have connection for some of the days. Even if you normally use a lot of data, 1-2 GB should be plenty. But be prepared to unwind, disconnect, and enjoy the breathtaking natural landscape of Socotra. 

Packing Light

  • You will be camping every single day during the tour, so pack light. You will be able to leave anything in the cars (that stay locked when you’re not in them), but you don’t want to have to search through a huge bag to find something. 

Essential Items

  • You won’t really have access to any shopping or stores on Socotra, and stores on the island are very limited in what they have anyway, so any personal items that are necessary for you make sure to bring them! Meals are mostly fish and rice, so if there are any foods you can’t live without for a week you may want to bring them too! We were very glad to have a few snacks and protein bars for all the hikes.

Modest Clothing

  • Socotra is a Muslim island, so women should bring at least one loose dress that covers your shoulders and knees to be worn in the villages. Outside of the capital, locals are used to western women in western clothes and pay no mind to girls in bikinis, shorts, and tank tops. 
Bottle tree on Socotra Island with pink blooms and turquoise blue water background

What to Pack for Socotra

  • 2 swimsuits
  • Light jacket or sweatshirt (it can get chilly at night)
  • T-shirts & long sleeve shirts (to protect from sun)
  • Activewear pants / shorts
  • Socks & underwear
  • Trekking sandals or walking shoes (trekking sandals that can go from wet to dry are best!)
  • Flip flops
  • Hat
  • 2 thin, fast-drying towels
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Eye drops
  • Wet wipes
  • Environmentally friendly soap, shampoo, and sunscreen
  • Skin lotion & lip balm
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Insect repellent
  • Personal hygiene products 
  • Pain killers
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Extra camera battery
  • Power plug adapter
  • High-capacity power bank
  • Extra charging cables
  • Dry bag
  • Headlamp (useful for camping at night and visiting the caves)
  • Lightweight backpack 

Additional Items to Consider

Two things I really wish I’d brought to Socotra!

  • Light weight, robe-style (long sleeve, maxi-length) bathing suit cover up for easily throwing over my bathing suit for modesty. (A bit sheer is okay) We would often go straight from swimming to eating lunch or getting in the car so it would’ve been nice to just throw on a cover up rather than changing clothes. 
  • A car charger with 4 USB ports and standard outlet for plugging a laptop for example. You’ll be camping for an entire week with no access to charging except in the car, so definitely make sure you have what you need to charge everything in the car. 

Which Tour Company is the best?

When planning your trip to Socotra, we highly recommend Socotra Specialty Tours. When you book with Socotra Specialty Tours, all of your communication will be with Taylor, an American who loved Socotra so much, she now spends the tourist season on Socotra managing tours and helping new visitors discover the magic and beauty of Socotra. You will probably even meet her at some point on your tour!

Taylor can make anything happen, so if you are celebrating a special occasion, just let her know! We were celebrating a birthday and she arranged for the most delicious cardamom cake, complete with candles!! Taylor and her team go above and beyond to make your trip unforgettable.

Our guide Amer was amazing. He was there to welcome us at the airport, and he was always so sweet and upbeat. He made sure everyone was happy and had everything they needed. Definitely request Amer to be your guide!

We also heard about some other tours needing to bring your own sleeping bag, mattress pad or pillow, but Socotra Specialty Tours provides super comfortable pillows, mattresses and blankets.

Bottle tree on Socotra Island with pink blooms and turquoise blue water background with a girl in a pink dress
View from hike to Bottle Tree at Detwah Lagoon

Private Tour vs. Group Tour 

We normally prefer private tours to group tours, and Taylor can definitely arrange a private tour for you. Opting for a private tour allows you to tailor the itinerary to your preferences, ensuring a personalized and unforgettable experience.  One addition we highly recommend is the hike to the bottle tree at Detwah Lagoon—a hidden gem not typically included on group tour itineraries. Just ask Taylor when booking or your tour guide when you land. Not all group tours will let you customize your itinerary, but with Socotra Specialty Tours you should be able to do this hike even if you book a group tour. 

Socotra is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure filled with natural wonders and cultural experiences. With Socotra Specialty Tours as your guide, you’re guaranteed a memorable and safe exploration of this unique island. Now that you are equipped with all the above information, you can start planning your Socotra getaway for an adventure you’ll cherish forever!

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11 Responses
  1. Jane S.

    I love following your travels! Especially to places I probably will never visit myself. Your pictures are amazing! I have been following you for many years, and love that you are happy and traveling the world! Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Bethy

    Wow! I have never heard of this place before. You give the best travel advice and tips! Thanks for sharing your travel journey. It is fun to explore new places and cultures through your pictures and experiences!

  3. Ashley

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this place. Thanks for sharing your journey….how did you ever discover this place ?
    I like how you share the costs and things you wish you had brought. Good to see you r adventures again !!!

  4. Lois

    Have missed your blog posts! Been following you since way back in the day with sweet Miley and Howie. Still using some of your recipes from back then.
    Love seeing the world via your beautiful photos; please keep sharing.

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Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.


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