All photography by Lee Starnes
Mui Ne’s history as a fishing outpost is worth exploring. Just after dawn breaks, the market at the fishing village is in full swing. Boats bundle together and fishermen unload at speed, using crates, trolleys, and motorbikes. Fresh seafood glistens everywhere. Once the catch is on land, it’s time for cards and coffee. Women prepare fish, aerate tubs, and bargain with customers. Be sure to get there early and step out of the way.
Mui Ne’s Fairy Stream is a gentle, ankle-deep waterway that lines the edge of a dramatic red clay and limestone rock formations on one side and a lush green forest on the other. Take your shoes off and meander upstream. Be sure to stop off at one of the rest stops for a cool coconut and before your return.
Some days doing nothing is exactly what you need. Whether or not you’re staying at a beachfront hotel, many of the seaside properties in Mui Ne offer day passes. Grab a hammock in the garden or a lounger by the water, and unwind with the soothing sound of the waves and reggae beats in the background. Book a massage by the beach for complete relaxation.
Tip: Coco Beach, one of Mui Ne’s first resorts, is a favourite among locals and repeat tourists.
If you're looking for an adrenaline rush, get out on the water and kiteboard. The wind is up in the late afternoon, but if you’re new to the sport, the wind is gentler in the morning. Drop into Flyboard Mui Ne or any of the other reputable kiteboarding schools for a starter lesson. You’ll learn to draw out the lines, air the kites, strap in, board up and glide.
Set in a coastal desert, Mui Ne is known for its sand dunes -- both red and white. Sunrise at the white sand dunes is worth the early effort. The 25km drive awakens the senses, with chirping crickets, a deep blue horizon, and salty sea air. As you climb the dunes, the sky turns to wispy pink and purple, the sun reveals the vast sandy hills and the ocean in the distance. For sunset, head to the red dunes just outside of town. Try sandboarding down one of the many glowing orange dunes as the sun drops past the horizon.
TIP: Renting a motorbike will give you the flexibility of exploring the surrounding areas filled with beaches, cafes, and resorts.
There is no better place for dinner than one of Mui Ne’s many ‘bo ke’ seafood grills along the seaside wall. Bubbling tanks stock the freshest seafood and icy beer tempers the humidity. Pick your choice of seasoning and method of cooking to create the feast you want. Fresh oysters, lemongrass clams, garlic scallops, grilled prawns, crispy fish, and chili stuffed squid are all on the menu.
Evenings in Mui Ne are perfect for catching some live tunes. There are a number of music venues that entertain all night with classics and pop renditions. Requests are welcome and dancing is encouraged. The musicians are local, and if you’re feeling the beat you may get the chance to hop on stage and join in.
TIP: Joe’s Cafe has a longstanding reputation, but more and more bars are popping up all the time.