Well, we finally got our chance to visit The Cham Islands after 8 months of living in Hoi An.
Only a 40 minute boat ride from Hoi An harbour. For this trip we collaborated with Tigerfish Divers, who provide a great option for families on a small catamaran double hull boat. Tiger Fish divers offer scuba diving and snorkel trips for small groups.
The boat ride across to the islands was spectacular: the girls sat on the top deck of the boat the whole journey wind in their hair. It was fantastic seeing Hoi An’s beaches and Danang from the water as well and seeing where the famous river meets the sea and how the local fishermen take advantage of the currents with the huge static nets dotted across the mouth of the river.
Once we arrived at the first snorkeling stop Hon Tai island, we were all eager to jump in the calm clear water; before we did though, the diver instructors ensured we all had masks and fins that fit and explained the basics of snorkeling to the girls.
We took two life-saving rings for the girls to hold on to in the water, this is a great option, instead of using life jackets which are so restrictive for swimming. Once the girls knew they each had a ring, it immediately gave them confidence and they both jumped off the back of the boat into the clear blue water.
The water was very clear, a short swim of 5 metres took to us to the reef, which was teeming with large blue starfish, trigger fish and parrot fish.
In under 5 minutes Marco found a clown fish of course it was Nemo to the girls. So that made Bella and Maya’s day and they didn’t feel like snorkeling much after that point. Plus I will mention there were quite a few jelly fish in the water which would lightly sting you if you swam into them, the girls couldn’t stand it, asked to get out of the water quite early on.
On the boat they had vinegar to pour on the sting which immediately stopped any pain. I will say the jellyfish didn’t stop the girls jumping on and off the boat for most of the day.
The group sharing the boat with us, were doing an introduction to scuba diving, so while we waited for them to finish their dives.
The girls had the best time jumping off the back of the boat and even I jumped from the high deck, which woke me up and was much higher than I expected.
We moved round the corner to our 2nd dive site, where there was much of same reef fish. The beauty was swimming in such clean and calm waters with no one around us.
Thinking Nomads Tip
Wear rash vests of wetsuits to avoid feeling the small stings from the Jelly fish, ask the boat crew for the vinegar to pour over the stings when you get out the water.
Chong Beach for lunch and relax
At mid day we headed to Chong Beach for lunch, the beach was much busier than expected, but still, we enjoyed a great lunch of traditional Vietnamese dishes, mostly seafood, squid, white fish, and prawns all washed down with fresh coconut and local beer.
Then it was time to relax, there was a huge shaded area under the palm trees filled with numerous hammocks, so we all picked one and had a relax whilst the girls swam in the sea again.
We had already planned to stay one night on the main island, so we said goodbye to Tiger Fish divers and headed to the main harbour with a local long boat.
Overnight on Cham Islands
Our homestay host was was waiting for us on the habour. She showed us to our simple room, and suggested we take a quick shower and go on a sunset motorbike ride around the island.
We were were all exhausted from too much sun and swimming, but agreed to take the tour. I’m so gald we did it was the highlight of the trip, being the end of the day the sun was low and the temperature had cooled right down.
We drove up and down steep roads, I was grateful not to be driving myself, any mistake with gears would have you stranded half way up the steep hills. The really isn’t much development on the island, which is in steep contrast to the mainland.
One of the stops was a huge Banyan tree just off the road, as well as a busy Buddhist temple just on the outskirts of Bai Lang. It was was 6pm when we arrived and temple was a hive of activity, with many people chanting and praying, the small temple was colorfully decorated with lanterns. It was great to see so many people at the temple, as the ones in Hoi An are so often empty.
The development on the Cham islands is slow similar to the pace of life on the island. This became very apparent when I kept seeing huge water containers on the roadside and witnessed people were taking the daily wash at these huge water containers, this meant many people didn’t have running water connected to their houses.
I’m sure this type of development the local people would welcome and would make life easier. In stark contrast to Hoi An and Danang, it was lovely to see very little building development on the islands which has ensured the unique charm has been maintained.
Accommodation on Cham Islands
In terms of accommodation on the island – it mainly consists of small home stays and guesthouses.
There is one big resort being developed, but building work has been on, off for many years and locals say the ownership of the development has changed hands two or three times. I think the atmosphere of the islands warrants a stay in the home stays for a more authentic experience.
The following day, we had arranged a local boat to pick us up at the harbor and take us back to Chong Beach, where we had a lovely seafood lunch again and then Tiger Fish divers took us back to Hoi An harbor and arranged a transfer back to our house.
Marco and I are slow travellers and like to take our time to explore a new destination in our own time and on our own terms. We both agreed we would love to return to the Cham islands for another 4-5 days and explore the island on our own motorbike, there were a couple of beaches we didn’t get to visit, which looked picture perfect.
In general, we liked the atmosphere on the island, very laid back with great local food and the freshest seafood. So Thinking Nomads verdict we will be back!
Our video of the Cham Islands
What do you need to know about the Cham islands
How to get there – Fast boat ferry takes 30 mins, or organized tour: we would recommend Tiger Fish Divers who offer both snorkeling and Diving Day trips.
Where to stay – Choose one of the many family-run Home Stays which you can find on Booking.com or Airbnb. We stayed at Hammock Home Stay, which has small but nicely decorated rooms, with AirCon and 2 minutes walk to the main harbour.
Snorkeling and Diving – Both for snorkeling and diving I can highly recommend Tiger Fish Divers, very experienced knowledgeable instructors.
What to eat – You should try the seafood some of the freshest squid, prawns, and fish we have tasted in Vietnam.
Don’t Miss – Sunset motorbike tour of the island 200K per person with driver.