Suffice to say, a “Highlight Reel” is in order. Here’s a short list of the most popular islands in the archipelago.
If there’s an island “hotspot”, it’s Hon Tre. The island is only 5km from Nha Trang and is accessible via the world’s longest aerial gondola. There are fabulous beaches (Bai Tru beach is especially popular) and an eco-entertainment complex that rivals any. You’ll find plenty of luxury lodgings and resorts. There’s swimming, snorkeling and jet-skiing. Hon Tre is a playground in paradise.
Only 7km from Nha Trang is Hon Tam Island. This well-known resort destination provides white sand beaches, palm trees, tropical forests, calm surf and plenty of watersports. Hon Tam also offers a cultural diversion: Hoang Hoa Village. The village contains the historic homes of early natives, with period furniture and relics. There are festivals celebrating the ancient culture (with music, dance, food and crafts). Boats leave Hon Tam harbor throughout the day.
Nha Trang’s Hon Mun Island is best known for its coral reefs. A 45-minute boat ride from Cau Da Port takes you to this rocky outpost. Various bird species call the craggy island home as do myriad varieties of marine life (among the most diverse in all of Viet Nam). Hon Mun is a diver’s dream, the coral reefs create an aquarium atmosphere with an abundance of exotic, colorful fish and sea-life. Hon Mun is both a protected marine sanctuary and has been named a marine biodiversity area by the World Wildlife Fund. There are glass bottom boat rides available and there’s even a popular floating bar for snacks and libations.
Hon Yen Island is accessible by boat from Cau Da Port in Nha Trang. It’s a one-hour ride, which truly adds to the feeling of getting away from it all. What makes this island unique is that it’s a habitat for Swift birds. Their nests are edible and harvested annually (there’s even bird’s nest wine). Caves abound, rock arches stand nobly. Visitors can climb the 220 steps that lead to Du Ha Mountain and feast on the panoramic view from the top. Swimming is a popular pastime. Getting to the island requires an early start as boats depart from the port in the morning.
Diep Son Island (actually three connected islets) has a cult following because of the unique, almost biblical path leading from one islet to the next. At low tide a snaky sandbar offers visitors the opportunity to “walk on water” from island to island. Camping is encouraged, there are restaurants serving fresh seafood and snorkeling is popular as underwater life teems. The islets are located in Van Phong Bay (about 47km from Nha Trang). You can get to Diep Son Island throughout the day via speedboat from Van Gia town.
Hon Ong Island (aka Whale Island) is remote (110km from Nha Trang) and fairly isolated (no residents), though there is a single resort (made mostly of bamboo and wood—quite earthy but comfy). Located in exotic Van Phong Bay, only 2 hectares of the island’s 40,000 have been developed, meaning there’s plenty of nature to explore and behold. Visitors can engage in watersports: swimming, diving, kayaking etc. but because of the island’s strict environmental safety stance, there is no fishing or hunting—not much by way of nightlife either. However, if you seek a genuine escape from the daily grind, from the din of the digital world, then this is the place for you. The resort provides boats daily, departing from Dam Mon Port.
Keep in mind, we’ve only introduced a handful of the most accessible islands in Khanh Hoa’s vast island chain. There’s so much to choose from, bounties of fresh seafood to dine on, pristine nature to explore and watersports galore.
When to Visit: Prime time island hopping is considered February through August, when the temperature is ideal (not too hot and little rain). But the reality is, Khanh Hoa is a year-round destination. The “wet” season is considered September—December (though less tourist traffic might make the islands more appealing). Diving is especially popular from January through October but the hot summer months are also considered quite ideal for water activities.
How to Get There: Khanh Hoa boasts one of Vietnam’s most iconic and popular cities: Nha Trang. So, getting there is a snap (air, rail or road). Flights to Cam Ranh airport (only 30km from City Center) arrive from all over Vietnam. There are also plenty of buses running from every major city in the country. Train travel is another option (check online or with your hotel concierge). Trains are a lesser utilized form of transport but a fabulous (inexpensive) way to see much of Vietnam’s natural landscape.