Astola Island is an uninhabited island in the Arabian Sea in Pakistan, locally known as Jazira Haft Talar or “Island of the Seven Hills” as it has a series of seven small hillocks.
Astola is a medium-sized island, Pakistan’s largest offshore island and the only significant offshore island in the northern Arabian Sea. Its highest point is 246 ft above sea level. It is approximately 25 km south of Pakistan’s nearest Makran coastline and 39 km southeast of Pasni.
Astola is used as a base for fishermen who frequent the Island between September and May to catch fish, lobster and oysters. Between June and August, the Island remains free from human interference due to rough sea and high tides.
There are no lodging facilities on the island and overnight tourists have to camp on the island and bring their own provisions. Vegetation on the island is sparse and largely consists of shrubs and large bushes, with no trees.
Astola Island is a popular and unique destination for eco-tourism. The isolated location of the island has helped maintain endemic life forms, such as the Astola Viper. The endangered Green turtle and the Hawksbill turtle nest on the beach at the foot of the cliffs. The island is reported to support a large number of breeding turtle, seabirds including coursers, curlews, godwits, gulls, plovers Larus hemprichii, sanderlings and several species. It is also home to coral reef and identified as a “hotspot” of coral, with more than 30 species of hard coral and eight species of soft coral identified here.
Temple of Kali
The remains of an ancient Hindu temple of the Goddess Kali are also located at the Island, and is known to Hindus as Satadip. There is also a prayer yard which is dedicated to the Muslim Pir Khawaja Khizr who according to legend is said to rule the oceans. He is also believed to visit the prayer yard occasionally and offer prayers.
How to get there
The route to Astola Island is very easy. It can be accessed by rented boats via Pasni, which can be reached by road from either Gwadar or Karachi via the Makran Coastal Highway. Motorized boats from Pasni are available which take approximately 5 hours to reach the Astola island.