Once the darling of Hoi An, known for its stunning palm-fringed white sand, views of the Cham islands and lux resorts, Cua Dai beach is now affected by severe coastal erosion. Though the erosion has been detected since 2004, the condition has accelerated in recent years.
Cua Dai Beach is located at the end of predictably named Cua Dai Road, running for eight kilometres along the coast, from the tip at the Cham Island ferry port north to An Bang Beach. At the public section – the first part you see where Cua Dai Road meets the beach – there are parts where it is impossible to take a “walk on the beach” without being waist deep in the ocean. This main hub, with its many seafood restaurants and sun chair rentals, used to be the main draw. Now it is an unsightly disaster/construction zone, a mix of sand bags, tarps, metal sheet piles, ropes and bamboo, and business has all but dried up.
As for the resorts, they have constructed their own protective rock walls and breakwaters. These aren’t the most natural sight but they are certainly more attractive than sandbags. If your main purpose of staying at a resort is for the beach, this is not the place. High-end hotels on Cua Dai still deliver on the ocean views, swimming pool, restaurants and services – everything but sand between your toes and in your bikini bottoms. If you appreciate amenities and finery, you can get great value as rates have dropped over the years and there are discounts to be had. We continue to recommend Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa, which does have an adjacent patch of sand complete with loungers.
Is it worth visiting Cua Dai? There are still plenty of seafood places where you can eat and drink yourself silly in between swimming and lounging in the sun – and not surprisingly, these places are desperate for business. Avoid the places off the beach, which offer lower prices but lacklustre food, and try the places on the coast.
You still also get ocean views and it is definitely not crowded, though expect hard core beach traders still queuing up to sell you tiger balm and tell you how they struggle to make a living. If you don’t want anything, politely make it clear you are not buying and they will leave.
The real secret is to head either to the small beach area beside Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort, or up the coast, towards An Bang Beach where there is a long stretch of fairly empty white sand, mostly undeveloped except for a couple of hotels and a handful of vendors offering umbrellas, chairs and cold drinks. This is a good spot if you want to get away from the crowds; very few tourists know about it. Try the tiny laneway just before or after Boutique Hoi An Resort.
A meter taxi between town and Cua Dai should cost 80,000 to 100,000 dong. Motorbike parking should be 5,000 dong.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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