Published/Last edited or updated: 18th November, 2016
Secluded cove, soft white sand, sparkling turquoise waters, tropical coral reef, no people – sound too good to be true? You actually won’t find this on Phu Quoc. To discover paradise, escape to the An Thoi islands, an archipelago of 15 islands and islets just off the southern coast of Phu Quoc.
The islands can be reached by charter boat. Though commercial boat tours advertise they go there, they never venture further than the first row to save on petrol – but the islands in the middle and the south are where it really gets gorgeous and special. Dive centres rarely do trips here even though several insiders told us the reef was better. The best way is a do-it-yourself adventure, and here’s how.
It’s prudent to go with a buddy. Also, if you’re on a tight budget, then gathering a few more new friends to join will help with the cost of the boat. We suggest preparing a picnic and why not make it memorable. We’re true desert island aficionados so we went all out: buy fresh seafood, vegetables, a wire grill and some charcoal at the market and have your guesthouse or a restaurant wash, prepare and marinade it (most are happy to do it for a negligible charge). They may even loan you a cool box and some plates and tongs. Buy plenty of drinks and remember to bring matches or a lighter.
Travel to An Thoi port at the southern tip. Here a boat organiser will likely find you. We hired a boat through Mr Phu (T: 0123 7799 141) who could speak a little bit of English and worked with five boats. Or you can ask your hotel to call him and make arrangements in advance. We hired a boat for a whole day, bringing us to two islets Hon Xuong and Hon Gam Ghi, for 1,000,000 dong.
It takes about one hour to reach Hon Xuong. We drove into a petite secluded cove on the western shore and found Eden.
It may be difficult to drag yourself away from Hon Xuong but Hon Gam Ghi gives you another spectacular vista and a reef (bring your own snorkel mask). And when it’s time to finally head back, remember to leave no trace and take all your rubbish with you.
Boat trips south are only possible during calm water months of November until April. Hiring a private boat through a commercial tour operator is quite pricey for small numbers but you’ll likely get a bigger boat. With ubiquitous John’s Tours we were quoted US$168 per person, for one-two passengers; US$62 based on three passengers; US$47 based on four passengers. Jerry’s Jungle Tours costs US$260 per day for a private boat, up to ten people.
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.