How to visit Socotra

Do you wish to visit Socotra Island? An island with few tourists, basic infrastructure, but with astounding beauty and unique biodiversity. We decided to visit Socotra in 2019, and if “off the beaten path” places are your thing, then you should put Socotra Island on your bucket list. Since there is a new flight option to visit Socotra now, we have updated our blog post to help you plan your trip to Socotra. 

This post has been updated on the 30th of January 2022.

 
 

How to visit Socotra Island – Everything you need to know

Where is Socotra Island?

Socotra is located between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula where the Indian Ocean meets the Arabian Sea. Politically speaking, it belongs to Yemen. But geographically speaking, it belongs to the African continent.

In 2008 Socotra archipelago was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In order to visit Socotra, there are only two options.

Socotra Airport
How to visit Socotra Island – Landing at Socotra Airport

How to visit Socotra – Which airlines fly to Socotra?

A visit to Socotra has not been easy for a few years. In 2019 and 2020 the only airline flying to Socotra was Yemenia Airlines on their once-weekly flight from Cairo. Our visit to Socotra was in 2019 and we flew with Yemenia Airlines.

In 2021, a new charter flight has launched from Abu Dhabi to Socotra following the short-lived route from UAE by Felix Airways. This charter flight is operated by Khalifa Foundation and connects Abu Dhabi and Socotra on Mondays. The perfect time to visit Socotra is right now.

In this blog post, you will find information on how to visit Socotra on the flight from Abu Dhabi to Socotra by charter flight (Khalifa Foundation). Yemenia Airlines are still flying between Cairo and Socotra, but as they have a layover in Seiyun on the mainland it makes it impossible for foreigners to use this route due to visas. 

How to get to Socotra on Yemenia Airways
How to visit Socotra – Our Yemenia Airways Flight was the only flight to Socotra in 2020. Now you can fly on a direct flight from Abu Dhabi!

How to visit Socotra right now – The weekly flight from Abu Dhabi! 

The new flight route from Abu Dhabi makes a visit to Socotra a lot easier than in the past. There are a few options on how to connect to the flight from Abu Dhabi to Socotra:

Fly into Dubai in the UAE

Once you land at Dubai airport you will get tested. After the test (which can take up to 12 hours), you are free to go. In order to cross the land border into the emirate of Abu Dhabi and get to Abu Dhabi International Airport you must present a negative test result, you can use the one mentioned above (maximum validity 72 hours). Please make sure to have downloaded and activated the ALHOSN UAE application on your smart device in order to receive your test results ahead of departure from Abu Dhabi International Airport. 

Fly to Abu Dhabi in the UAE

No more quarantine on arrival in Abu Dhabi. From September 5th, you can travel quarantine-free to Abu Dhabi if you’ve been fully vaccinated. You must register via the ICA Smart Travel Service. You can stay in Abu Dhabi for a few days or simply connect to your flight to Socotra.

Here is the current flight schedule from Abu Dhabi AUH to visit Socotra SCT:

ABU DHABI – SOCOTRA Non-stop direct flights on Monday.
FLIGHT NO 476 Abu Dhabi (AUH) 10:00 departure > Socotra (SCT) 11.30 arrival 
FLIGHT NO 477 Socotra (SCT) 13:00 departure > Abu Dhabi (AUH) 16:00 arrival
 
You will be returning back on the same plane that lands in Socotra and you should expect delays. If you asked me how to visit Socotra right now, I would suggest flying into Dubai for a few days and then transfer to Abu Dhabi before your flight to Socotra on Monday.
On the way back, I would stay an extra night in Abu Dhabi to connect the flight home the following day. This means you won’t stress about missing your connecting flight. 
 
Socotra
How to visit Socotra – Detwah Lagoon and beach in Socotra

How to book the flight to Socotra 

You might’ve already searched for the flight online through Expedia or with Skyscanner with no luck. This is due to the fact that this flight can not be booked online. And yes, this is the only flight you can currently book to visit Socotra as a foreigner.

In order to book the flight, you must have your Yemeni visa first (more details about that below) and you can only book the flight via a travel agent in Abu Dhabi.

The agent can hold your seats (reservation) for a few weeks while your visas are being processed and then once payment is made, the e-tickets will be issued.

You will need to have a printout of your visa and ticket to check-in at Abu Dhabi airport to visit Socotra. 

As there is currently only one flight between Abu Dhabi and Yemen and it does sell out. Not because of tourists, as there are only a few on each flight. But many Yemeni citizens fly for medical procedures.

The easiest way to book the flight is to have your tour company take care of that. We decided to visit Socotra with Welcome to Socotra and they organised the flight for us.

It was booked via their travel agent in Abu Dhabi and you could pay via bank transfer.

How to visit Socotra

How to visit Socotra – Dragon Blood Trees are endemic to the island

NOTE: We use WISE to exchange currencies worldwide or to pay International invoices. You won’t find better rates or lower transaction fees anywhere. Try WISE and receive a fee-free transfer of up to GBP 500 by using our invite code.

We used WISE to pay for our trip to visit Socotra Island in 2019.

The cost of the flight to Socotra:

The cost of the return flight from Abu Dhabi to Socotra is currently $850 per person. As there are limited options for Socotra, the charter flight is the only way to visit Socotra.

They have a monopoly and can pretty much charge anything they wish, but it is more affordable than the flight with Yemenia Airlines.

We paid $1200 per person for our flight to Socotra.

Our Visa Yemen
How to visit Socotra – You will need a visa. Our Visa for Yemen

How to get a visa for Yemen?

The only way of securing a Yemeni visa for your visit to Socotra is by booking a tour with a local tour company. Embassies are currently not issuing tourists visas. And as you can imagine there aren’t many Yemeni embassies in the world and there is only a small amount of adventure travellers who wish to visit Socotra.

We have travelled with Welcome to Socotra and they have arranged a visa for us. You can also obtain your visa if you know someone in Socotra who can facilitate this, especially if your visit to Socotra is not your first time there.

The cost of the Yemeni visa is $150 and you will receive it via email about 2-3 weeks before your arrival in Socotra. Once you arrive in Socotra, your visa will be issued at the airport. The visa is valid for 30 days and you must not have any stamps from Israel.

To book a tour to visit Socotra, check the website of Welcome to Socotra for dates of tours for this season (October- December). Alternatively, you can also book a tour with our friend Alvaro who runs its own Wander Expeditions and has a scheduled departures to Socotra as well.

If you need visas for other countries – see our helpful Visa Page here

How to get to Socotra
How to visit Socotra – Camping on the beach at Socotra, Yemen

How to get to Socotra on a ship from Oman

There is an alternative option on how to get to Socotra – a cement ship from Salalah, Oman leaves technically every week and takes 2-3 days to reach Socotra.

There is no food, water or shelter on board so you will have to be prepared for a rough ride. Please note that piracy is a problem in the region and should you consider this option – do your research and speak to travellers who have done it.

You will, of course, need to organise your Yemen visa beforehand through contact in Socotra. The cost to hop on the ship is around $100.

Update: Please note due to the pandemic, this is no longer a good option to visit Socotra. Consider the flight. :)

How to visit Socotra - fisherman

How to visit Socotra – Fisherman at the local market in Socotra

Why you should visit Socotra?

There are so many good reasons to visit Socotra Island. The untouched nature. Dragon Blood Trees. Friendly locals. Amazing hikes. Camping under the stars and fresh fish for dinner every day. Most importantly a visit to Socotra is a trip like no other. Surreal landscapes.

Truly off the beaten part destination that has been explored by only a few. A visit to Socotra is a must for any adventurous traveller.

Travel Insurance recommendation to visit Socotra

SafetyWing is created by travellers, for travellers. These guys offer Travel Medical Insurance that covers people from all over the world, while outside their home country – The best part is that COVID-19 coverage is included in their very affordable plans. We recommend arranging coverage with SafetyWing when you visit Socotra.

If you enjoyed reading about how to visit Socotra, you might also enjoy our blog post: What it’s really like to visit Socotra

Socotra is a truly unique place to visit. It might not be the easiest place on the earth to reach, but it is worth it. If you have any questions about Socotra or need more information on how to visit Socotra, ask us in the comments below.

You may also be interested in visiting some nearby countries that are also fascinating. These 10 reasons why you should visit Oman should provide enough inspiration to book a trip here. 

Don’t miss our Perfect 7 Day Road Trip Itinerary for Oman. This is a country that is best explored on wheels to explore all the hidden wadis and amazing views to be enjoyed.

And then, if you’re stopping by the UAE, it’s totally possible to visit Dubai on a Budget. Seriously, stay somewhere nice and eat the best food, the details are covered in our post.

For more of our best travel advice, read our list of expert travel tips from 15+ years of travel.

TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES

✈️ Flights: Aviasales & CheapOair are the best websites to book cheap flights.

🏨 AccommodationBooking.comAgoda, and Hotellook are the top platforms to search for fantastic hotels and accommodation options at the best price.

🏥 Travel Insurance: Don’t forget travel insurance! We recommend World Nomads or SafetyWing.

🚌 Transportation: To book trains, Trainline is the best and cheapest website. To book transport in Europe, USA & Canada, we use Omio & FlixbusUS. For travel in Asia, we use 12Go. For all other countries, we use BookaWay to compare and book Bus, Ferry, or train tickets to get around.

🚘 Car Rental: DiscoverCars, & Europcar are reliable platforms to book rental cars.

👫 Group ToursG Adventures or Expat Explore offers the best group adventures around the world. Use our promo code VERYHUNGRYNOMADS at checkout to receive 5% off your Expat Explore Trip!

📸 Day Tours & TripsGetYourGuide & Viator are the only platforms you will need. They offer everything at unbeatable prices.

🎒 LuggageOsprey Farpoint 40L Backpack or Samsonite Luggage Range (we love this Stack’d Carry-On Spinner Suitcase).

🛄 What to Pack: To help you get started on packing, here is our ULTIMATE Packing List for all Travellers.

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📶 Stay Connected: Airalo eSIM allows you to get connected the moment you land at your destination and you can avoid those expensive data roaming charges. We LOVE this product! Use promo code VHN20 for a 20% discount on ALL eSIMs (new Airalo users only – Read Terms & Conditions) OR use promo code VHN15 for a 15% discount on ALL eSIMs (for existing Airalo account users – Read Terms & Conditions)

✅ Check out our Travel Resources Page for more Useful Tips to Save you Money!