A surprisingly quiet, sparsely populated bay offers a perfect escape from cold weather
"I can't be bothered with the touristy beaches in Nha Trang."
About 50 km north of Nha Trang Town, Van Phong Bay is a small paradise
My friend was very emphatic as we mulled places we could visit to escape from the cold weather in the north. Luckily, we have many choices.
This time, we chose Van Phong Bay.
Van Phong, called Port Dayot by the French people, is located in Van Ninh and Ninh Hoa districts, about 50 kilometers from Nha Trang Town and about 3 km from Tuy Hoa Town.
A report of the Vietnam Maritime Department shows that Van Phong Bay is one of the world's deepest bays.
United Nations tourism experts have also recognized it as one of Asia's most perfect sites for eco-tourism, and the bay has been rated as an ideal place for scuba diving, according to VnExplore, a Vietnam Travel Network publication.
Covering 15,000 hectares, including 8,000 hectares of water and surrounded by the Hon Gom Peninsula to the north and Hon Lon Peninsula to the southwest, Van Phong, one of the world's deepest bays, is considered a safe shelter for ships during rough weather conditions.
It was a blue, windy day, and as we left Nha Trang Town behind, we passed rice fields, coconut and mango groves. And then, almost without warning, the road changed, and on either side we could see white, deserted sand dunes dotted with casuarinas. For about 20 km the road zigzagged through the dunes, the deep blue ocean playing hide and seek.
We reached the Dam Mon Village and spent a while watching happy kids jumping from blue boats into the water. Then we rented a small boat to explore the bay at a cost of VND800,000 (US$43.8) for six hours. It was not a deluxe boat but once we were in it, we felt we were in the lap of luxury, with the wind in our faces and the brilliant sun reflecting and twinkling on the surface of the sea.
For tours to Van Phong Bay, contact:
Huu Nghi Tourist
30 Le Thi Rieng St., Ben Thanh Ward, Dist. 1, HCMC
Tel: (08) 2 239 6515, 090 922 2813 -- Fax: (08) 3 925 0324
Email: email@example.com www.huunghitourist.come.vn
54 Nguyen Du St., Hai Ba Trung Dist., Hanoi
Tel: (04) 3 942 4490, 3 942 3997 -- Fax: (04) 3 942 2707
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.vinatour.com.vn.
As we passed the Whale Island Resort with its bungalows arranged along the beach, Sam, owner of the boat told us many guests visited this place to dive and watch the corals.
"It would be fun to become a small fish and live freely in this bay," my friend mused, watching the turquoise, deep ocean, the group of tiny colorful fish and the white, lazy clouds on its surface.
As it was when we were on the road, there were very few people we met as we sailed around the bay, passing islands with white sandy beaches at their feet.
Around a bend, we entered an area with many small floats. We are visiting a pearl farm run by a Japanese company, Saigon Pearl, Sam informed us.
The pearl farm was right out of a fairy tale book, located on an old warship. "We have some hundred local staff working here, taking care of the pearls. Let me show you around," said Dung, a talk, dark young man.
The farm has a nice restaurant and fish raising area, providing fresh food for the staff. Looking at the elegant pearls sticking to the mother of pearl shells, I thought to myself that this clear, deep blue ocean, warm and brilliant, also held beautiful secrets in its heart.