Cu Lao Cham, an archipelago off the coast of the central province of Quang Nam, is around 15 kilometers from the ancient town of Hoi An. The green foliage of the archipelago can be seen from Cua Dai Beach in Quang Nam.
Cu Lao Cham comprises eight islands of different sizes with each having a different feature and thus creating a picturesque view.
It takes around 25 minutes to travel from the shore to Cu Lao Cham. When the boat comes closer to the archipelago, tourists can see primitive forests and a lot of coconut trees. Upon arrival, they can see a market near the quay selling seafood, forest vegetables and herbal medicines.
The island is home to more than 600 households with over 3,000 residents, who mostly earn a living by catching fish and vending goods.
Recognized as a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2009, the archipelago has many rare and valuable flora and fauna species and historical sites connected to the development in the past of the commercial port town of Hoi An.
Tourists to Cu Lao Cham can drop by Hai Tang Pagoda, the ancient well of Cham ethnic people in Tan Hiep Commune, the temple to worship whales and the temple to worship the first people whose job was to collect bird’s nests on the island. They can also choose to explore the beauty of caves, islets and streams.
The ecological reserve area of Cu Lao Cham is near the quay. The place displays and preserves specimens of flora and fauna found on the island, including 499 plant species, 188 coral species, over 200 fish species and especially, long-tailed macaque and apodidae bird, which are listed in the Viet Nam Red Book.
Hai Tang is an ancient pagoda without monks. It is now home to an old couple named Le Mai and Ly Thi Thanh, who make medicines from herbs and sell them to local residents. Visitors to the pagoda will be served tea prepared from forest leaves.
Around two kilometers from the pagoda is a fishing village where tourists can watch women weaving hammocks. Nguyen Thi Muon, a 90-year-old woman, has been making hammocks for sale for the past 70 years. She said hammocks are made from the bark of plane trees and it takes as long as three months to finish one. The old woman can only make a couple of hammocks a year and sell them at VND1.2 million (US$53.6) apiece.
What makes Cu Lao Cham worth visiting is its beautiful beaches where sand is white and seawater is crystal clear.
Chong is the most beautiful and pristine beach on Cu Lao Cham. There, tourists can see colorful coral reefs, schools of fish and starfishes, and rocks standing on top of one another.
Tourists can buy fresh seafood from local fishermen and ask restaurants nearby to prepare delicious dishes.