Think casuarina-lined white sandy beaches, just the right balance of great restaurants and bars, green lawns, island views and year round swimming in the tropical East Sea and you’ve got An Bang Beach in Hoi An.
Just four kilometres from the UNESCO-listed town of Hoi An and 30 kilometres from the international airport in Da Nang, with the magnificent Marble Mountains and Hai Van Pass just a few hours from its doorstep, An Bang Beach isn’t going to stay secret forever, but while it still — relatively — is, it’s one of the most perfect places to lay your hat.
This year saw the opening of a fair few accommodation options in and around An Bang, the midrange and rather luxurious Temple Beach House being the pick of the bunch. For the flashpacker An Bang Seaside Village is a great find and word has it that they will be adding a tree house on the beach to its portfolio in 2013. For backpackers wishing to linger a little longer, Hoi An House property rentals have a basic but well positioned two-bedroom property at $450 for a month.
An Bang is one of the few remaining stretches of beach that remains mostly unspoilt by development, offering clean blue sea, castaway restaurants and bohemian beach bars. It flaunts not only the most fabulous island and mountain views that you don’t even need to climb off your lounger to enjoy, but also some of the best seafood in Hoi An. And unlike many beach destinations there is something to do whatever the season, whether you prefer some self indulgent R&R or an action packed surfing safari, An Bang never shuts shop.
Since coastal erosion has become a huge issue at Cua Dai Beach, An Bang now reigns as Hoi An’s main beach. This little slice of paradise is popular all year round with both locals and tourists alike. During the popular summer months the local Vietnamese crowd comes here mostly for sunrise swims and sunset family beach barbecues, meaning that during the day it stays quiet.
The dry season falls between March and September, offering the best beach weather with temperatures soaring in to the 30s and beyond. If tanning and beach lounging are your thing, for the price of a bottle of water you can hire a sun lounger for the day. Beach activities on offer other than lolling around in the sea are a little thin on the ground, but if a game of pool or petanque float your boat then Banyan Bar is a good bet — they also hire out both body and paddle boards. If you are looking for company for your kids, Soul Kitchen is where the local expat children hang out after school and at weekends, providing fun play mates to give frazzled parents a breather from sandcastle-building duties and cries of “I’m bored”.
As the wet season hits (October to February), An Bang’s micro-climate is full of little surprises, offering the odd sunny day and one of the most incredible places to sit and watch the storms come in over the mountain borders of Da Nang. This is also the time for some pretty spectacular surfing conditions, when six-foot waves roll into An Bang’s beach break. If you need to hire a board, fancy some lessons or want to meet up with the expat surf community, your best bet is to contact Bondi surfer Dale who runs a surf school for all levels from An Bang’s sandy shores.
Gastronomic offerings come from French-run Banyan Bar, La Plage and Soul Kitchen, where kitchen aficionado Mien serves up incredible local seafood and French dishes. If you prefer Italian there’s Luna with its clay oven pizzas and authentic pasta dishes. White Sail serves up some pretty mean barbecues and some meaner still cocktails, but if you want to stay local there are some astonishingly good Vietnamese restaurants serving up just-plucked-from-the-sea delicacies at exceedingly good prices. Two of the best ones are Chien, located on the corner by the parking lot, and Lien Ka’s, next door to Soul Kitchen, which grills the most delicious scallops and squid along with other Vietnamese seafood favourites.
Like all good beach bars and restaurants should, they stay open as long as there are customers, but if you are looking for a party then weekends are party time at Soul Kitchen, who put on some very cool events with great food and DJs. Midweek groups should head towards La Plage where bar manager Matty is happy for you to take over the play list and serve up drinks till sunrise.
By Caroline Mills
Last updated on 20th January, 2016.