Visit This Underrated Island Off The Coast Of Asia For A Picture Perfect Beach Vacation

When considering a beach holiday in Asia, many travelers think of popular destinations like Bali, the Maldives, or Phuket. However, if you're searching for an oasis untouched by overwhelming tourism, then Con Dao in Vietnam might be your ideal destination. Located about 143 miles from Ho Chi Minh City, the Con Dao Islands consist of 16 islets, with Con Son being the largest, most visited, and the only inhabited one. These secluded islands are renowned for their pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rich history. Say hello (xin chao) to a picture-perfect beach vacation!

Divers and snorkelers will fall in love with Con Dao. With over 25 diving sites reaching depths of up to 70 feet, Con Dao is considered Vietnam's best diving destination. The surrounding waters offer a magnificent diversity of marine life, with over 360 species of coral reefs, 205 types of fish, and even the occasional sea turtle. The best time for diving is between March and July when visibility is at its peak. You can even take certified diving courses at the Con Dao Dive Center or Amadive Dive Center.

The island boasts 125 miles of pure, untouched beaches. Con Dao is so private that as you explore, you may stumble upon some secret coves all to yourself! Bai Nhat and Bai Dam Trau are among the must-visit beaches, with soft, golden sands and scenic views of the endless sea. You can enjoy sunbathing, beachside strolls, watersports, fishing, and, of course, unforgettable sunsets and sunrises.

History, pristine nature, and fresh seafood

But Con Dao is not just known for its beaches. It is an island with a tragic history. For over a century, it served as a brutal penal colony where thousands of Vietnamese were imprisoned and tortured by French colonial forces and later by the South Vietnamese regime. Many old prison buildings still remain, serving as solemn reminders of the past. The Con Dao Museum and Phu Hai Prison offer a thought-provoking glimpse into the island's history.

For nature enthusiasts, the Con Dao National Park covers 80 percent of the island and is a sanctuary for biodiversity. Take part in guided treks and, if you're fortunate, you might spot the rare Niroba pigeon or the endangered dugong. Con Dao is also one of the few places in the world where you can witness sea turtles nesting. Every year between May and October, over 400 turtles choose the beaches as their nesting grounds, and observing them emerge from the sea to lay their eggs is a truly remarkable sight.

No journey is complete without immersing oneself in the local culture and cuisine. Vietnamese cuisine is renowned worldwide for its flavors, and Con Dao's local dishes are no exception. Fresh seafood is a highlight, with delicacies such as moon crab, oc vu nang (a snail dish once enjoyed by kings!), oyster porridge, and wild red lobster. Don't forget to visit the Con Son market for a taste of local food and to pick up some souvenirs. Vietnam is also the top country to visit for coffee lovers!

Travel and accommodations in Con Dao

Reaching Con Dao has become easier over the years, with daily flights operating from Ho Chi Minh City (starting at $70 for a ticket). Alternatively, you can take a ferry from the port of Vung Tau, which takes about three hours and costs $30 for a scenic journey. Once on the island of Con Dao, renting a motorcycle for $6 to $10 per day or a bicycle for $2 is the best way to get around, thanks to the low traffic and well-maintained roads.

There is a wide variety of accommodation options available. For a luxurious experience, you can stay at the sustainable Six Senses resort, where villas start at $600 and include an infinity pool and yoga studio. Homestay De la Rosa offers private cabins in a beautiful, well-maintained garden starting at $35. Additionally, there are many other affordable options available for as low as $17 per night, catering to every type of traveler.

Con Dao is a destination where it's summer all the time. With its mesmerizing waters, rich history, and untouched natural beauty, it promises to be the trip of a lifetime. As Con Dao is not yet a mainstream tourist hub, visitors are treated as guests rather than tourists, receiving genuine hospitality. If you're looking for an underrated beach destination that offers a unique experience, Con Dao is the place to be. Don't miss out on this Asian paradise before the secret gets out!