A small island in the central province of Binh Thuan boasts a remarkable presence of rocks and crystal clear waters, offering both peace and adventure
Cu Lao Cau (Cau Island) has been described as “a rock battleship” or “the kingdom of rocks.”
It is easy to see why.
Located some 110 kilometers from the famous resort town of Phan Thiet, the 1,500-meter long island is a veritable rock garden of spectacular beauty.
Locals will tell you that the numerous rocks of different colors and shapes are natural sculptures. They will say that one looks like a whale caught in a shoal, another is like a chamois that is trying to get ashore. Groups of rocks situated off the coast look like a mother dolphin and its children, giant sea turtles, or hippos.
Over centuries, many rocks on the land have linked together, creating caves and reefs that are awesome to explore. Locals have given these sites names like Tinh Yeu (love) cave, and Ca Suot (Suot Fish) reef.
In the middle of the island are three high rocks that can be climbed on for a panoramic view of the island.
Cau, however, is not just about rocks. It has many beautiful beaches divided by “gardens of rocks,” and its waters are crystal clear, making it ideal for bathing and diving to see colorful corals and fishes.
At its main beach, lots of sea shells and coral pieces are mixed in the sand, creating a stunning look when the tide is low. However, it also means that you have to be careful when walking on the beach so that you do not get your feet cut.
If you are not in the mood for adventure or playing in the water, just lie in a hammock, admire the sea, the blue sky and the white beach while enjoying the cool breeze.
The island has a temple where Thien Y A Na, or Lady Po Nagar, a Cham goddess, is worshipped. Another one is dedicated to whales. Vietnamese fishermen have a tradition of considering the whale a deity that protects them at sea.
No one knows when the temples were built, but every lunar April, people from Phuoc The Commune organize a festival on the island to pray for safety, good fishing, and good weather conditions. The annual festival includes many folk games and traditional musical performances.
Previously, the island had only one stall run by an old fisherman called Huu in Phuoc The to provide drinks and food for fishermen. But one more stall has opened up recently.
Both the stalls, which only operate during the season the sea is calm, provide hammocks, fresh water, and seafood.
The stalls’ employees and border guards are probably the sole residents of Cau Island.
Although the island is a perfect destination of a day trip from Phan Thiet, you can also spend the night in a tent. A BBQ party with fresh seafood under a starry sky on this still wild island will be a memorable experience.
The best time to visit Cau Island is between March and August.
It takes around 50 minutes to reach the island from Phuoc The Commune by boat. Since most of the boats that can bring you to Cau are fishing boats, and no ports are available, you have to travel by coracles from the shore to board the boats.
Each coracle can carry five people, including the driver, while a fishing boat can transport 10-20 people at a time.
Cau Island has many poisonous snakes, so never venture into grasslands and shrubs, and remember to keep to well set paths. Also, stay away from trees in the summer because snakes often crawl there to avoid the heat.
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