Phu Quoc – Vietnam’s Island Idyll
In February 2008 the ABC Network voted Phu Quoc island’s Truong beach "The Cleanest and Most Beautiful Beach in the World". Development on the island is just starting to take off, with the island's many pristine beaches making this destination one with, if the developers get it right, a great future. Easily accessible by air from Saigon, Phu Quoc is at the moment Vietnam’s best choice of beach destination for those who prefer their beaches quiet and unspoiled and who aren’t too concerned about a lack of variety in the luxury facilities on offer: there are luxury establishments, just not that many of them.
The most accessible beach, and one of the most attractive, is Truong Beach, covered with buttermilk-colored sand and stretching for nearly fifteen miles from Duong Dong Town. Visitors have the choice of staying at one of four resorts, which decrease in price and in the variety of their creature comforts the further you get from town.
The island is famous for fish sauce, producing 6 million litres of the stuff every year. Locals carry on with traditional island ways of life: little girls sort green peppercorns while their fathers and brothers are out fishing. Later, the whole family will help to reel in the nets. The result is a rich harvest of crabs, prawns and squid which later grace island tables such as at Carole’s, one of the most popular seafood restaurants on the island. Fish is, naturally enough, the specialty of the house, along with squid with lotus flowers, blue swimmer crabs cooked in a tangy ginger sauce and king prawns sautéed with lemongrass and chili.
Maybe rent a motorbike for the day and do some exploring. The center of Duong Dong Town bustles in early morning, with its lively and colorful market situated just next to the river. By afternoon most of the town’s occupants are either having a siesta or sheltering in a shady spot near the beach and admiring the view of the picturesque Cau Temple, on its own tiny island. Sao Beach, in the southern part of the island, is known for its superfine white sand. Undeveloped with the exception of a couple of beach restaurants, the picturesque track down to Sao Beach runs through groves of cashew nut trees. Enjoy the hammocks where you can rest, Vietnamese-style, under the palms after your lunch.
The An Troi islands, off the southern tip of Phu Quoc, are popular for fishing and snorkeling day-trips, as are the reefs in the northwest of the Island. With the creation of the An Troi Marine Park as part of the Phu Quoc National Park program, marine life is returning to the area, after having been nearly wiped out by dynamite fishing. Offshore the Hai Tac ‘Pirate Archipelago’ consists of 16 islands, some of which are said to contain treasure troves buried by pirates in the 17th century. Maybe bring a spade, but probably best not to give up your day job just yet.
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