Nha Trang and the surrounding areas of the Khanh Hoa Province offer a great range of activities for most travellers, from historic Po Nagar (Cham Towers) to the restaurants, bars and golden sandy beaches. During our time in Nha Trang, we decided to take a snorkelling day tour in Nha Trang Bay. As with most cities in Vietnam, the choice of tour operators can be overwhelming, for our peace of mind, we chose to book this trip with our hotel, Ha Van.
We were collected at 7.45am from our hotel and transported to the harbour in Nha Trang (near the Vinpearl Cable Car station). We boarded a wooden boat with around 10 other tourists and awaited the arrival of another 4. Having heard horror stories about overcrowded boats, we were happy to see that our boat was far from full. Soon we were cruising out into the bay on our way to the snorkelling spots around Hon Mun and Hon Mot.
The Hon Mun Marine Protected Area includes a number of islands and their surrounding waters: Hon Tre, Hon Mieu, Hon Tam, Hon Mot, Hon Mun, Hon Cau, Hon Vung, Hon Rom and Hon Noc. Established in 2001, the reserve covers an area of around 160km2 and a recent survey has shown this area to be abundant in around 350 species of hard corals (out of 800 world recognised species).
We stopped at three locations around Hon Mun and Hon Mot Islands to snorkel, each with around 7-10 metres of visibility and some very pretty coral formations and coral fish. The areas varied slightly and the first, just off Hon Mun, was close to where Swiftlets build the nests that are harvested to make bird’s nest soup. There was plenty to see here including squid, jacks, parrotfish, bannerfish and trumpetfish.
After the first 45 minute snorkel, we boarded the boat and moved around to our second area to eat our lunch. A great buffet lunch was served on the fold down benches in the centre of the boat including rice, noodles, morning glory, fish, chicken, prawns, spring rolls and omelette with either cans of beer or soft drinks, sold at an additional cost.
All fed and watered, we were then able to snorkel in the second location and after another 45 minutes, head off to the third and final location. The second and third locations did not differ wildly (both were shallow shore-side reefs) and we got to see clownfish, cuttlefish, pufferfish, cornetfish, trumpetfish, cleaner wrasse as well as some smallish groupers at the last location.
The Snorkelling Trip was very reasonably priced, given it also included hotel transfers, towels, a bottle of water and use of the snorkels, masks and fins. There is another tour on offer, costing around half the price, however this is more of a ‘booze cruise’ and would not have suited us. The Booze Cruise tours tend to stop at 2 islands and also drop anchor to allow for swimming, but not enough time for Snorkellers to enjoy the diverse marine life.
The Amazing Snorkelling Tour (booked via The Ha Van Hotel) – 15 USD Per Person included:
- Collection and drop-off at hotel
- Snorkels, masks and fins,
- Bottled water,
- Buffet Lunch,
- Sunbathing on sun-loungers on the roof of the boat (Bring plenty of sunscreen).