Tempted to try your hand at cornering a coracle? Casting a line like a local? You can! Or rather you really, really should — when we tried it it was the most fun we’ve had beachside in ages.
Located on a secret stretch of white sandy beach, midway between Hoi An’s Cua Dai and An Bang beaches, lies Castaway beach restaurant, a ramshackle thatched stand-alone that sits behind a row of beach umbrellas and sun-loungers. Castaway is run by an enterprising local family – headed up by smooth talking ex-tailor Ms Lan, entertainer, cook, entrepreneur (want tailoring on the beach? Step into her lounge) and her brothers Truong, an ex-watersports captain at a posh resort, and coracle handling genius Dung.
The fishing lessons on offer start at 50,000 VND for beach line and net fishing, where either Dung or Truong will arm you with the necessary equipment and teach you the skills involved to net a catch. The lesson takes about 30 minutes and then you are free to fish for the rest of the day at no extra cost. The coracle handling and fishing lesson comes in at 100,000 VND a person for an hour, including lifejacket hire, the chance to helm your own coracle and cast a net. It helps to have some semblance of balance and cast iron guts, particularly if your rowing skills send you spinning in circles. It’s harder than it looks, but the boys are always on hand to get you back on track should you start hurtling into dangerous sea (or straight into the surf, as we did).
Should all that seem a little too active, or you want to take the kids, Dung has a small fishing boat that comfortably seats five plus all the fishing paraphernalia, so you can head out for a nice boat trip on the open water, even if you don’t fancy trying your hand at fishing.
Tours are available year round (weather permitting), but the best time to cast a line is February through to September, when the sun shines and the sea calms to clear millpond. We recommend booking a day ahead so that the guys can set up the nets in advance – we didn’t and came back empty-netted. For those clever enough to catch a few squid or fish, for an extra 100,000 VND Lan will set up a barbecue and prepare your catch for lunch.
For those who come back empty handed, Castaway’s menu is packed full of reasonably priced and delicious seafood.
By Caroline Mills
Last updated on 11th January, 2014.