Sep 15 2011
Stay anywhere on Phu Quoc Island and you’ll probably see a sign, or be given a brochure, advertising a snorkel/fishing tour. Being a sucker for tours that include water, and me going into it, I was chomping at the bit to get on a boat. My first few days on the island disagreed, however, and the rain cancelled all the tours. Luckily, just as I was beginning to worry that my trip would be without sun, the bad weather broke and I was able to go on a tour. So, if you’re in Phu Quoc, here is a run down of what you get on your snorkelling trip.
Getting picked up from your hotel, you are driven to Bai Sao Beach; the drive is mostly unpaved, and a bit bumpy, but the view of the desolate southern end of Long Beach makes for a peaceful drive. Once on the beautiful and calm white-sand beach you are loaded into a small boat and carried to the bigger tour vessel. First stop is a floating seafood market, where you can buy seafood that will be cooked for you on the boat for lunch, though lunch is already included.
Next we stopped for some fishing, where you are given a baited hook on a plastic spool and let loose. I dropped my line into the turquoise waters below and played the waiting game, but no luck. Some people on the boat did manage to wrangle in some bite-sized fish, which were added to the lunch.
Then we snorkelled. The coral was along the shallow shore and was filled with lots of various fish. The water was mostly the temperature of something you would bathe in, making for a relaxing swim.
After a delicious seafood lunch, and another round of your choice of snorkelling or fishing, we left the boat and spent the next hour on Bai Sao Beach. It is a soft, white-sand beach with some of the calmest waters you can experience in the ocean: it was like being in a giant salt-water swimming pool. While I was drying off, preparing for the ride home, one of few vendors on the beach just so happened to be selling my favourite tofu treat, che dau hu. Best day EVER!
Some things did bother me about the tour. One thing that always rubs me the wrong way on tours is little extra charges, and John’s Tour seemed to be filled with them. I know, it happens all the time and should be expected, but they seemed to take it a little far. If you want anything from the first stop at the seafood market it will be extra; just before dinner if you’d like to try sea urchin, extra; and if you want a chair at the beach, while you’re there for an hour, that will be extra too. I wish they’d just charge $20 for the tour and include everything. Oh, and the final stop on the trip, to a Phu Quoc pearl farm, was a classic tour-dropping-you-off-at-a-place-they-get-a-percentage-of-what-you-buy tourist-trap.
Another thing that put me off was that in the brochure they show a dotted line touring the southern islands but, when we got on the boat, we went no further south than the southern tip of the mainland, Cape Ong Doi. Maybe it was because of the weather, or the season we travelled, but it was never mentioned that we wouldn’t be going to the islands; we just didn’t go.
Still, all things considered, the food was good, I saw plenty of sea life as I snorkelled and Bai Sao Beach is one of the nicer beaches I’ve ever experienced. At $17 a person, I think the trip was a steal — just bring some extra cash.
John’s Tours (US$17)
143 Tran Hung Dao St, Phu Quoc
T: 0919 107086/0982 107086
Sunny Boat Trip (US$15)
143 Tran Hung Dao St, Phu Quoc
T: 09079 463 607/0946 441 532
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Tags: Phu Quoc