Considering the sheer natural beauty of this place, it’s sad to think about the brutally tragic past of Côn Đảo. So while we spent our four days on the island we tried not to think about it and opted out of visiting any of the numerous old prisons. Instead we spent our time enjoying the wonderful beaches and forests only visiting the small holding cell at the old French police station where Võ Thị Sáu spent her last night before being executed in 1952, and her grave in the town cemetery. That was enough sadness for one week. A brief but concise history of Côn Đảo can be found here.
Côn Đảo is a group of islands located off the southeast coast of Vietnam. They’re known for their sandy beaches, coral reefs and marine life. The shores of Bảy Cạnh Island are a breeding ground for turtles, and there are many dive sites in the surrounding clear waters. Côn Sơn, also known as Côn Lôn, is the largest island of the Côn Đảo archipelago and the capital.
Wonderful place to take a break if you are content with Vietnamese food and service. As far as I can make out there are only a few foreigners living on the island, those who work at the Six Senses Resort and Larry and Rebecca at Dive, Dive, Dive. There is not one taxi to be found and with a population of around only 6,000 persons there are few people and even less traffic to contend with. A stark difference from the frenetic pace of HCMC.
Côn Đảo Sea Travel Resort was OK. Possibly a bit over priced by Vietnamese standards, but then everything on this island is relatively more expensive than on the mainland. Put that down to supply and demand and the fact that almost all the islands needs have to be transported by boat from Vung Tau. However Sea Travel Resort is one of the resorts in what has to be the best position, fronting a sandy beach and a short walk from the main town of Con Son.
We took a scuba dive with Dive, Dive, Dive and were lucky to strike almost perfect conditions. The water was around 28 deg C and visibility was very good. We dived two sites and both had good coral with a fair variety of fish. The second site was particularly good as the coral was abundant with some excellent bright green Staghorn and a huge amount of Brain corals. Plenty of colourful fish and I came across a large group of iridescent Parrot Fish. While I was taking my time watching the Parrots feeding on the coral, a medium sized iridescent pale greeny/blue to yellow Unicorn fish appeared and was soon joined by three more. Very relaxing and satisfying to be taking a dive after so long away from the activity and very comfortable as Larry has just built a new boat and has brand new equipment.
Côn Đảo is not a large place and there aren’t all that many roads, but what roads there are are best traveled by motorbike. Bikes can be rented almost anywhere and are cheap enough at around 120,000 VND per day. In 2 days we travelled to all parts of the island that had roads traveling at a very slow pace and stopping often. Good roads, very little traffic, but at this time of the year, very, very hot.
Apart from becoming fodder for an influx of sand flies, (I’m scratching hard as I type this), I really enjoyed the stay on Côn Đảo and wonder how I could have left it so long to visit. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I get a chance to return.