Astride a long strip of coastline, Ca Na has a smattering of places to stay, quite a few good stretches of beach, and a large, picturesque harbour. It sits just shy of the southern border with Binh Thuan province, some 32km southwest of Phan Rang Thap Cham.
Ca Na is well-off most western tourist's radar; true, there isn't much going on here, and the trucks whisking by on Highway One diminish the serenity of the place somewhat, but not everyone should write it off completely. We often run into travellers who are looking to get away from the crowds, and this is a pretty good place to do so. The beach is on a par with what you'll find throughout the region, good-value accommodation is available, and Ca Na actually feels like a real live beach rather than an extension of an outdoor, Vietnamese shopping mall.
The terrain is known for it's hills covered with rugged rocks -- you can even be a ragged rascal, if you like, and run around them. There are some picture-perfect spots along the shore, and in the centre of town there's a small temple halfway up the hill that gives the spot character.
While visitors here will have to forego a good deal in the way of services, eating options, and things to do, Ca Na offers up a homely atmosphere that more than compensates for those drawbacks.
While it's technically in the neighbouring town of Vinh Hoa, the Vietnam Scuba Resort is actually closer to Ca Na and provides a good reason for a visit. The diving off the coast of Ca Na is reputedly some of the best in Vietnam, and the Korean-run dive-shop can accommodate both novice and experienced divers.
Vinh Hao town is 21km further down the road. It's known for its bottled mineral water and mud baths are available there.
Ca Na is spread out along highway 1, with a set of hills to one side and the water on the other. As you enter town coming from Phan Rang Thap Cham, there's a sign with an anchor on it to the left pointing down a dirt road to the harbour. This is hard-core, fisherman territory -- we found them to be a rowdy, drink-all-day, fish-all-night bunch of guys, so if you're tempted to hoist a bia hoi in these parts, be prepared to be thoroughly teased in Vietnamese for being a 'land lubber' and whatnot. The harbour is quite beautiful to look at, and the air is permeated, of course, with the smell of dead fish (and bia hoi).
All the accommodation is further west, with the hillside temple, next door to the Hai Yen Hotel, marking more or less the centre of town.
No internet is available in Ca Na and there are no banks nor ATMs. The nearest such facilities are 22km away in Phuoc Dan, outside Phan Rang.
There is a small post office just west of the harbour road which has long distance phone services available. For everything else, you'll have to take care of business before you arrive. If you're in the market for nuoc mam, (Vietnamese fish sauce) however, you're in the right place -- there are at least a dozen factories along the road, bottling up the fishy brew.
Post Office: West of the harbour road, Ca Na. T: (068) 861 1010, F: (068) 861 444. Open daily: 06:30 to 20:00.
By Don Morgan