• The Little Explorer’s Guide To: Farasan Island

    The Farasan Island is one of the gems of Saudi Arabia.  A beautiful island with some truly spectacular scenery and history.  However, it is currently only accessible via ferry or boat to most people.  I recently visited the island(s) and wanted to give a complete guide on getting there and answer some questions first-timers may have.  Below is that guide, hope you find it beneficial.  If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

    Getting There

    So, as I mentioned, for most people, taking the Jizan > Farasan ferry would be the first/only option.  You can also take a boat but why bother when the ferry is free and much easier?  There are usually either 2 or 3 journeys per day from Jizan to Farasan and likewise return journeys from Farasan to Jizan.  The timings are normally as follows:

    Jizan to Farasan:

    1. 7am departure - boarding at 5:30am
    2. 1:30pm departure - boarding at 12 noon
    3. 3:30pm departure - boarding at 2pm

    Farasan to Jizan:

    1. 7am departure - boarding at 5:30am
    2. 11am departure - boarding at 9:30am
    3. 3:30pm departure - boarding at 2pm

    Please note: most of the days there are only 2 departures and some times, especially during weekends/holidays, the departure times can change.

    Tickets for the Ferry - With a car

    Whether with a car or without, tickets for the ferry are FREE.

    If you want to take your car to Farasan Island, unfortunately, the only way to obtain tickets for your car is by visiting the ticket office in Jizan, location: ( https://goo.gl/maps/hfL8FCLGZS32  UPDATE: The office has now moved to around here: https://maps.app.goo.gl/umc6ujDxZkMLAGDv5).  However, there is a catch, only 60 cars can fit on the ferry and most of the time tickets for cars are gone within hours.  A lot of the time you may find yourself having to visit the office 7 days(!!) in advance to obtain a ticket for your car.  This is certainly true for weekend tickets and holiday periods.  Outside of weekends and holiday periods, you may need to visit 2-3 days in advance.

    Another way of taking your car on board is to obtain tickets for the passengers and then turn up to the port and join the waiting line for cars.  Sometimes vehicles fail to show up and slots are opened up to vehicles waiting.  Whilst this sounds good, you need to be very careful because it also means having to join a waiting line of the way back, you won’t necessarily be able to obtain a return ticket from Farasan for your vehicle if you did not have a ticket for it from Jizan.  The problem with this is that if there are no free slots on the way back, you may end up spending a day or two on the island until you manage to get your car onboard.  My advice: don’t do it unless you have a return ticket.

    Tickets for the Ferry - Without a car

    If like me, you don’t want to take your car and just want passenger tickets, the good news is you can either obtain these from the office above, or, book them online and print them.  The website to book them on is: ( https://lm.mot.gov.sa ). Make sure you book going and return.  Even though the website mentions cars, there is no way for you to obtain a ticket for your car for now from the website.  I have confirmed this with the office.

    Travelling on the Island without a car

    So, if you weren’t able to take your car, how do you get around?  Well, there are no official taxis on Farasan Island, however, there are many locals waiting outside the port as you disembark from the ferry ready to take you where you want. Unofficial taxis so to say.  Prices, as you can imagine, will be determined by demand.  Most of the time you will be able to negotiate and you’re not obliged to go with the very first you meet.

    Just to give you an idea, I went with my wife on the 7am ferry and we had booked the 3:30pm return ferry so we only had a few hours to check out the Island, we had no plans for staying overnight.  We spoke to one of the locals outside and initially, he was asking for 400 riyals to take us to about 5 different ‘touristy’ spots.  We managed to negotiate that down to 300, which is still a lot but considering that we were going to be with him for about 4 hours and also considering the fact that it was peak period, was not too bad.

    Our other option, and your other option, is to rent a car.  There is one company who does car rentals on Farasan side and they have a small booth at the ferry terminal, however, all the cars were booked when we went and I imagine it is likely to be the case on weekends as well.  Also, the prices are a little on the up side from what I heard.

    My Recommendation

    I recommend you book the tickets online and not bother with the car option and then just get a local to take you around for a few hours if it’s your first time and you don’t have the luxury of getting to Jizan 7 days in advance to book a ticket for your car.

    About the Ferry

    The journey by ferry is usually between an hour to 1.5 hours.  The ferry is beautiful and clean inside.  It has prayer rooms, bathrooms and a place to buy snacks, tea, coffee, etc.

    Accommodation on Farasan Island

    Out guide told us that there are about 5 hotels/furnished apartments on the Island.  The issue is that non can be booked online at the moment.  At least 4 of them can be seen on Google Maps and I would highly recommend that you get their phone numbers and give them a call before finalising your plans to see if there’s a way to reserve before getting there.  The reason I say this is that it is likely they may be fully booked.  You need a Plan B if they are.  Fancy camping?

    Places to See

    OK, so you’ve managed to get there, now what?  Well, if you’ve gone with the local option, they’ll take you to all the touristy spots.  There is no shortage of beaches and coast for your to explore.  In fact, not too far from the ferry terminal you have the Al-Qasim Beach.  Apart from this, do visit the Ottoman Castle, the Heritage Village, Farasan Park, Maadi Bridge and Al-Rifa’ai House (houses built during the Ottoman period).  Also, just drive around and enjoy the Island.

    I hope you enjoy your journey.  It truly is a beautiful island well-worth visiting. O, it gets extremely hot during the summer months so be prepared.

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    1. Hello Sir! Amazing blog & the info is valuable. Kindly let me know few things about the Island, as we are planning a trip on 11th August for 2 days. What do you recommend we should do in the Trip? Like the must see places & must do activities?
      Also, do you have info about scuba diving, bird watching & snorkeling?

    2. Hi, thanks for the kind words. Might be hot around your dates so make sure you're prepared. In terms of places to visit and things to see, please see my recommendations in the post.

      Not sure about divind and snorkling unfortunately but if you know Arabic, please speak to one of the taxi drivers outside the ferry terminal.

      Make sure you book well in advance if you're thinking of taking your car. Also, ensure it's a return ticket other wise you might be stuck on the Island with your car for a few days.

    3. Hello! you have given Amazing info.

    4. The ticket office in Jizan for the ferry has been relocated. Now it is there:
      King Fahd Road in front of Jazan Port، Jazan Saudi Arabia

      1. Thatnks for that, have updated the post. Any other changes you are aware of?