Since the time I was young, I have learnt a lot about Cam Ranh in the central province of Khanh Hoa, which is the most beautiful bay in Vietnam.

It is one of the world’s three most natural bays after San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro, and recently my family and I had a chance to visit the bay.

My two little sons were so excited that they woke up very early in the morning and urged me again and again to begin the tour.

We decided to visit Binh Ba first. When we arrived at the Da Bac seaport of Cam Ranh City, we went by boat to the island.

I have visited many islands in the country such as Ha Long Bay and Phu Quoc, and enjoyed their natural beauty and landscape, but the sea here felt as if we were in paradise.

Blue skies, blue waters: The natural beauty of Binh Ba

“Mother, I see the water here seems to be most blue compared with others,” my 7-year-old son said.

“Oh, and there are a lot of mountain tops from the islands now appearing and disappearing. Excellent,” he shouted loudly.

Our tour guide Huynh Kim Lien, whose native village is in Binh Ba, told us that the island is most beautiful and sparkling from January to September with dense white sand banks spreading endlessly along light waves.

The island has three beautiful beaches. They are Bai Chuong, Bai Nom and Bai Nha Cu.

Sea water at Bai Chuong is very limpid and it has a density of rocks, Lien said, and added that it is the very place to enjoy the sunrise, while Bai Nom is famous for its clean and white sands.

Locals often come here to bathe and exercise, while visitors, particularly the young ones, often camp out and sleep over,” Lien said.

She warned us, “If you like to bathe in the pure waters of Bai Nha Cu, you should be careful about the sea urchins that could injure your feet.”

Despite that, my two sons were so interested in bathing that they ran into the sea, and began to swim and dive excitedly.

The limpid water helped me to observe them and I could see them very clearly.

My little son suddenly shouted loudly that he had caught a very nice and rather big snail which had a shell resembling a flower. “I will bring it home, and when it dies I will use its shell as a paperweight to decorate my table,” he told me.

Seeing the joy and happiness on his face, I told myself that visiting the island was really worth it.

It was 11am, my sons were hungry after all the swimming, so I told Lien to lead us to the market where we could smell specific fresh seafood and cheerful smiling fishermen after a bumper net.

They invited us to buy their fresh seafood such as fish, shrimp, snail, arca, among others.

Lien suggested that I try lobster, sea crab or fragrant snail. “Binh Ba is the native location of these specialities.”

My sons also suggested that we try lobster. “I am craving for it so much because I have never eaten such fresh lobster,” my elder son said.

I asked a fisherman to sell me two kilograms of live lobster at VND 1.5 million per kilo. It was 30 per cent to 60 per cent cheaper than the ones available in the restaurants inland, Lien said.

A fisherman name Hoa told me many visitors from cities such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City often bought fresh lobsters and steamed it to take home because it was priced between VND 400,000 and VND 600,000/kg.

I purchased 5kg and asked Hoa to help me steam it. I tried one and enjoyed it very much because it was still fresh and sweet.

After enjoying the lobster, we toured the market and I realized one interesting thing that a buyer can make a good purchase by exchanging goods without paying.

My elder son exchanged a package of sweets to get a small hand-made boat from a local seller, who said that toy could be used in exchange.

“Next time, I will bring my toys here to exchange seafood for you, mother,” he excitedly told me.

My husband said he was impressed by the honest and simple-hearted locals. They were ready to help with any of our requirements such as grilling the just-caught seafood on the spot.

We were very pleased with the seafood here which is alive and very cheap compared with those available on other beaches.

It was 2:30pm, and despite being full, my two sons still encouraged us to climb to the top of the hill where we could enjoy the overview of Binh Ba and a part of Cam Ranh Bay.

Then we went down the hill and rented a boat to bring us to the nearby shallow sea beach to dive and enjoy the coral.

The boatman Hoang told us “It is now the moon season, you should stay in the boat at night to enjoy the moonlight on the sea and silver waves, cool and fresh wind while eating seafood on the spot.”

On the boat by night, we saw the island sparkling by the lamplight from lobster raising cages. It was very wonderful, said my sons.

We thanked Hoang, for enjoying such a great night, which had impressed the most so far. At midnight, we returned to our rest house which was very close to the pier. The price for a house for my four-member family was between VND 100,000 and 120,000/night.

Despite being very late at night, the smiling house owner still waited up for us and asked us if she could cook something for us. We thanked her and said we were full.

When I told her that I had seen several motorcycles parked on the road outside, she said “There are no thieves on the island, either in the day or at night, so you should not worry.”

Although my sons were pleading with me to stay a little longer for them to discover the island some more, my leave was nearly ending, so we had to say goodbye to the beloved island and return to Cam Ranh city.

The sons cried loudly and I had to promise them that we would visit the hundred-year-old Oc (Tu Van) Pagoda in the inner city.

Right after landing, we paid a visit to the pagoda which was built with snail and arca shells. Inside the pagoda is the Bao Tich Tower which is 39 meters tall and two of its floors are built with coral stone.

The tower has eight doors and it is surrounded by 49 smaller towers. The prominent thing of the pagoda is that it has 18 doors to the hell.

The pagoda attracted the boys for its special shape and materials as well as a ghost story told by a monk.

I had to repeatedly tell the boys that we had to leave by promising them that we would visit Cam Ranh for a week next summer.

I would bring them to the attractive tourist locations such as Binh Hưng, Bai Dai, Hon Lan, and Hòn Rồng, in addition to Hon Quy, Hon Phung, Binh Lap, Binh Tien and Nui Chua.

Source: VNS