Guidebook Life’s A Beach


Life’s A Beach

Vietnam brims with “secluded coves, white sands and waters fit for snorkelling,” observes Rough Guides. Its 2000+ miles of coastline is the lure for “days spent basking on sun-baked strands and evenings taking in the sunset.” In recent years, the beach scene has expanded as foreigners discover the “turquoise waters and unique scuba diving along the country's central and south coast,” notes the Travel Channel. “While there are plenty of well-appointed resorts, adventurers can find welcoming budget bungalows and even some unassuming beach towns still untouched by developers.”

The potential for finding waves in Vietnam is limited only by time and motivation, says Rhys Stacker at the Matador Network. “Oh, and a pretty serious language barrier. And some very inaccessible coastline. And unexploded bombs.” Surfing in Vietnam is possible from Vung Tau in the south right up to Dong Ha and beyond on the central coast, plus some established surf spots around China Beach and Mui Ne, he adds -- “but the rest of the coastline its still mostly unexplored.” The best time for surf is between November and March, “when the winter monsoons blow in from the north” and for much of the year the water is “bathtub warm,” with temperatures hovering between 25 C (dry season) and 30 C (wet season).

Here are the critics’ choices of some of the best beaches in Vietnam:

Star Beach: the largely undeveloped east coast of Phu Quoc is “less frequented than, but just as beautiful as, the more popular west. One of the most beautiful beaches on the island, Star Beach (Bai Sao) has dazzling white sands and mesmerizing, usually calm waters. A few beach restaurants line the pale blue waters, and in season there are kayaks for rent and half-day snorkelling trips by boat.” (Rough Guides)

Ho Coc: a quaint seaside village roughly 125 kilometres southeast of Ho Chi Minh City ... “Ho Coc boasts one long sweeping stretch of fine sandy beach. Featuring pristine waters and the occasional boulder plonked along its peaceful shoreline, there’s no shortage of photo opportunities here. (International Traveller)

Môn Beach: just south of Tuy Hoa City, in south-central Vietnam … “on a clear day, the water is the colour of Bombay Sapphire gin. There’s often a handful of wooden fishing boats floating in the bay -- the water is so clear that you can see the shadows of their hulls on the seabed. National holidays aside, there’s never anyone here. (Vietnam Coracle)

Nha Trang Beach: in the Khanh Hoa province, “is a busy beach area known for its endless days of sunshine … divers explore hard and soft coral reefs, caves and walls for some of the best diving in the South China Sea. Adventures above water include wakeboarding, kite surfing and banana boat rides. Divers and aquatic athletes relax poolside and exchange stories over unique brews at the beach bar and pool at Louisiane Brewhouse.” (Travel Channel)

Lan Ha Bay: in the south-east of Cat Ba Town in Hai Phong City, is a geological extension of Ha Long bay but sits in a different province. “These two bays are connected and you can always move between the both by boat. More than 27 square miles in area with almost 400 karst islands and limestone outcrops in different shapes, this bay is just as beautiful as Ha Long bay with an addition of 139 white sand beaches.” (Christina’s)

Doc Let Beach: on the splendid Hon Khoi peninsula, “is a pristine location for a day’s beach-bumming. White sands and casuarinas (evergreen trees) make for a delightful, uncrowded scene. Good accommodation options are available, and even more secluded beaches can be found nearby.” (Rough Guides)

Palm Island: a short boat ride from Nha Trang. “It is a private island dotted with rustic thatched-roof bungalows, just a few steps away from the deep blue sea -- a perfect place for couples or families wanting to find their own little slice of paradise. The ocean is teaming with fish making it perfect for diving, snorkelling and eating as much fresh seafood as you can.” (Rickshaw Travel)

Danang Beach: “a central fighting area during the Vietnam War, is known locally for its great beaches with notable surfing, scuba diving and even a swanky resort … My Khe beach, known as China Beach to foreigners, has a busy expat scene and was the former recreation base for the US military during the war. The white sands are framed by natural pines and coconut palms, the perfect backdrop for a morning tai chi class or just lounging on the beach.” (Travel Channel)

Phu Quoc Island: off the west coast of the Mekong Delta, “is bit off the standard tourist track. The diverse topography is made up of national forest land, pepper plantations and sprawling white sands beaches. The island still maintains some of its untouched charm with dirt roads, quiet shores and limited tourist services. The most developed beach area is along Long Beach with large resorts and great budget options.” (Vietnam Travel)

Dai Lanh: on the Hon Ghom peninsula “is coated in largely empty, endless beaches. Perhaps the best is next to Dai Lanh, a tiny fishing village at the northern end of a one kilometre-long beach, hemmed between clear, turquoise waters of the South China Sea and a mantle of green mountains.” (Rough Guides)

Mui Ne: 220 kilometres east of Ho Chi Minh City, “is a charming fishing village cum tourist favourite. Characterised by its rolling sand dunes, serene water, swaying palm trees and warm beach-going weather for most the year, many claim this to be Vietnam’s number one beach. Ideal territory for windsurfing and kite surfing, it’s also not a bad setting for a seaside massage.” (Rickshaw Travel)

Ky Co Beach: 25 kilometers to the north-east of Quy Nhon city, Ky Co “is loved due to its very clear waters and its exclusive scene: mountains in the back and ocean in the front. There are many rocky ledges by the coast, which have created mini natural swimming pools which would be ideal for your kids.” (Christina’s)

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