Cham Island – Cu Lao Cham The Vietnamese Hawaii

Cham island is home to 8 islands which are located off Vietnam’s central coast. On a clear day you can see it from the beach and the Marble mountains. It is located an hour away from Cua Dai beach by boat.

chamislandHawai1Essental information

  • Best time to go: Feb to Sept, before full moon.
  • Get there by high speed boat or local ferry.
  • Bring Passport & Visa
  • Should not bring anything made from plastic or anything that could hurt the environment.
  • Mosquito repellent

Nearly 200 years ago, Cu Lao Cham almost became a Hong Kong-style colony. Historian Nguyen Van Xuan said in early 19th century, the British asked the Nguyen Dynasty rulers for the right to build up a trade base on the islands so as to have better access to China’s Guangzhou province and other countries in the region. After the Opium War took place from 1839-1842, the British colonized Hong Kong, thus diverting attention from the Vietnamese archipelago. That partly reduced traffic in the waters from Cu Lao Cham to Hoi An, which during the 16th & 17th centuries had been one of Vietnam’s busiest trade centers.

This island group has 3,000 inhabitants; most of whom make a living from fishing. During the 1960s, Cu Lao Cham was known as “Paradise Island”.The largest island of Cu Lao Cham is Lao island. On this island, a tourist promotion called “Cu Lao Cham and valuables from the seabed” is on. Pottery objects salvaged from wrecked ships on display reveal the beauty of an illutrious past.

chamislandHawai2There is also an introduction to the fauna and flora of the archipelago. According to the figures of the Cu Lao Cham Nature Preserve Project, which stated in 2003, there are 165 hectares of coral and 500 hectares of sea weeds. The waters around Cu Lao Cham is home to 135 species of coral, four species of tiger shrimp and 84 species of mollusk, many of which are listed in Vietnam’s and the world’s Red Book of endangered species.

The “cua da” (the stone crab) is particularly special as Cu Lao Cham is the only region in Vietnam where these creatures with violet and orange coloured shells are found. They live under stones in the forests, eat only medical herbs but reproduce in the sea.

Cu Lao Cham has a temple where the tradition for worshipping the whale in Vietnam’s central coastal areas began in the 19 century. At Hai Tang Tu, there is a small but beautiful pagoda for worshipping the Sea Deity. Constructed 300 years ago, it looks like an ancient house in Hoi An with two “house eyes” on the main door.

chamislandHawai3There are many other interesting attractions for visitors, including fresh seafood, traditional crafts, swimming and sightseeing.

Today the Cham islands are also a Marine Protected Area (MPA) because of their many important marine habitants, especially beaches and coral
reefs, and rich biodiversity. The MPA includes eight islands; the largest island Hon Lao, features magnificent beaches and forests, the township of Bai Lang, a small harbor, a traditional fishing village (Bai Lang), temples, shrines and a pagoda. Cham Islands, offshore island of Hoi An City has just been recognized as the World Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO.

Source: The Timeout Guide Magazine