Cua Dai and An Bang Beaches
Relax by the sea
What we say:
Though Hoi An doesn't really market itself as a beach getaway, there are some pleasant stretches of sand located just a hop away.
Hoi An's main beach is Cua Dai, located at the end of predictably named Cua Dai Road. Some of the beach is given over to high-end resorts, but the public section is the first part you see where the road meets the beach.
Coastal erosion has become a huge problem along the Cua Dai coast and many resorts are left protecting their ever-diminishing beaches with huge and unattractive sandbags, so if you are staying at a beach resort for the beach, it's worth checking it still has one. The public area of Cua Dai is a stunning stretch of palm-fringed whitesand with views out to the nearby Cham Islands. It'd be an idyllic spot to relax if it weren't for the hardcore beach traders -- on a quiet day they'll almost be queuing up to sell you tiger balm and tell you how they struggle to make a living. For some this is true, but on average these vendors pull in a very good daily profit, so if you don't want anything, politely make it clear you are not buying and they will quickly leave.
There are plenty of seafood places so you can eat and drink yourself silly in between swimming and basking in the sun. Avoid the places off the beach, which offer lower prices but lacklustre food, and try the places on the sand — Mama Ly's and Sen to the end of the line of restaurants come highly recommended.
Don't neglect Hoi An's "other" beach, An Bang, which is to the north at the end of Hai Ba Trung Street, about six kilometres from Tran Hung Dao. It's one of the few stretches of public beach left so it gets busy with local Vietnamese at sunrise and sunset, when whole families flock to the beach setting up little barbecue picnics. It's a more Vietnamese scene, a bit more laidback, and is becoming the preferred option over Cua Dai for its more family-friendly dining options and lack of hawkers. The two beaches are only six kilometres apart via the new beach road. It's possible to walk the stretch of beach between An Bang and Cua Dai, which is pretty much deserted save for a few fishermen. It's a beautiful walk and if you keep your eyes peeled there are even some old war bunkers left over from the American war.
Do remember that topless bathing and nudity are hugely insulting to the locals; if you are caught flaunting too much flesh you can face a fine. Travellers often get confused by etiquette upon seeing locals enjoying beach time and swimming fully clothed; this is because of a desire to stay pale skinned rather than a modesty issue and bikinis and shorts are perfectly acceptable beachwear. Do just keep it to the beach though, and cover up when you leave.
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