Photo: Reminiscent of the Giant's Causeway, Ganh Da Dia is really something to behold.

Ganh Da Dia

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Found 40 kilometres north of Tuy Hoa, Ganh Da Dia, also known as Da Dia reef, is an unusual natural wonder of geology, an area of interlocking basalt columns along the coast.

The sight can be a detour en route if travelling between Tuy Hoa and Qui Nhon, or it makes for a good day trip from Tuy Hoa. Highlights include miles of isolated beaches and Man Lang, one of the oldest Catholic churches in Vietnam.

Elbow the crowds out of your way at Bai Xep Beach. Photo taken in or around Ganh Da Dia, Tuy Hoa, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

Elbow the crowds out of your way at Bai Xep Beach. Photo: Cindy Fan

The best way to tackle the day trip is by motorbike; of course hiring a taxi is always an option. Like the trip south of Tuy Hoa to Dai Lanh Cape and Vung Ro Bay, part of the appeal is the journey itself via the back road following the coast rather than the monotonous, heavily trafficked Highway 1A.

The way to Ganh Da Dia is straightforward. From Tuy Hoa head north out of the city on Le Duan and follow the road. The first spot of interest is Bai Xep Beach. If departing from the city at Le Duan and Tran Phu Street, it’s about 11 kilometres before the turn off. As of 2016 there’s a sign “Khu Bai Tam - Sao Viet” that points to it, the road leading straight east into a village. To secure your motorbike, at the top of the village as you enter, a family has a little garage, with parking for 5,000 dong. Walk along the path to the beach, which is a prettyish, empty parcel of coast. At the north end of Bai Xep, make your way up the bump of rock for a great view of both Bai Xep and the long length of sand on the other side.

Nature in all its amazing, unusual glory. Photo taken in or around Ganh Da Dia, Tuy Hoa, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

Nature in all its amazing, unusual glory. Photo: Cindy Fan

Back on the main road, it’s a matter of continuing north and following the road for another 21 kilometres past peaceful rice paddies. As you enter the village nearing Ganh Da Dia, look for signs that guide the way. Also look for fieldstone houses and walls, a rare sight as it is a construction method not commonly found in Vietnam.

At first glance Ganh Da Dia looks too bizarre to be natural. Rock columns cover an area 50 metres wide and 200 metres long. They are all different sizes and shapes—some are round, some have sharp angles forming polygons—but all have a smooth, flat top and interlock neatly like a honeycomb. They resemble stone plates, earning it the appropriate name “the sea cliff of stone plates”. As explained by a sign at the site, the geologic rarity was created when lava suddenly solidified from “being hit by cold sea water, simultaneously the thermal contractions caused the molten basalt flows to create polygonal cracks, forming rock columns.”

The picture-perfect lighthouse. Photo taken in or around Ganh Da Dia, Tuy Hoa, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

The picture-perfect lighthouse. Photo: Cindy Fan

The coast is something to behold and consider yourself lucky to see it (unless you’ve already visited the UNESCO World Heritage Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland).

From the front gate, head along the motorbike path north along the coast to see the lighthouse, a dramatic scene of enormous boulders and pounding surf. It’s a picture perfect scene, meaning you’ll have to fight the selfie stick wielding crowd. No parking fee or admission here.

Stunning Man Lang, one of the oldest Catholic churches in Vietnam. Photo taken in or around Ganh Da Dia, Tuy Hoa, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

Stunning Man Lang, one of the oldest Catholic churches in Vietnam. Photo: Cindy Fan

Finally, for a stop at Mang Lang Catholic church, head west in the direction of Highway 1A. From the Ganh Da Dia parking, that means driving for four kilometres until the T-junction, then turning right and following the road for six kilometres to find the first of two possible entrances leading to the church on the righthand side, both of which are hidden. The second entrance is easier to find. At the T-junction: turn right and after 200 m is a short lane to the front of the church.

The Catholic church was first built by French missionary priest Joseph de la Cassagne in 1892, making it one of the oldest in Vietnam. Though the church has been renovated twice, first in 1924 and then in 1992, it still retains the Gothic architecture of a cross flanked by a bell tower on both sides. Despite the new constructions, it still has some interesting architectural details. The church also holds a catechism written and printed in 1651 by French Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes. It is significant as it was the first book to be printed in Romanised Vietnamese writing, giving birth to modern Vietnamese script. Conflicting reports say it is housed in the church, while others say it is in the man-made hill to the side which contains a basement vault. There was no one we could ask when we visited—there didn’t seem to be a single person on the grounds. The front gate was locked, however, the gate at the rear and the doors of the church were open and we were free to enter.

From the church it’s just two kilometres west to Highway 1A, then 27 kilometres of straight highway driving south back to Tuy Hoa, or return the way you came.

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Ganh Da Dia
Daily 07:00-17:00.
Admission: 10,000 dong

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