Cham Island (also called Cu Lao Cham) is a cluster of eight islands that lies eight miles off the coastline of Hoi An. This is the perfect travel getaway for the traveller on the Vietnam tour packages seeking a time of peace and relaxation. The only inhabited island is Hon Lao, which offers a very scenic dive, great seafood, sparkling turquoise waters and white sand.
When to go
Travel to Cham Island is seasonal. The preferred time to visit is the dry season (March-September). The best diving and snorkelling takes place late June to late August. The region can experience rough waves and wind, which has the potential to leave the day tripped stranded on the island until the more favourable conditions return. Visiting the Cham Island in the wet season (October-February) is virtually impossible because of the dangerous sea conditions. Also, go with weekday travel for the most peaceful and relaxing time. Public holidays and weekends can get extremely busy.
Most tourists planning a visit to the Cham Islands on the Vietnam holiday organize a day-trip via a tour agency. For the multi-day trip, there is the option to stay overnight and even camp on the beach in a tent. However, the island does attempt to discourage the independent traveller, and prefers the arrival of large group tours.
How to get there
The easiest way to get to Cham Island is by booking a seat on a speedboat tour. It costs in the region of $25 and includes lunch and snorkelling gear. The tour starts early in the morning, about 8:00 am, and stops at a few of the beaches before heading back to base mid afternoon. Most of these speedboat tours can get quite overloaded with tourists, so a more quality experience is possible by hiring a private speedboat through an upmarket resort or professional dive centre.
The local waters off Cham Islands are rich in marine life, including 84 species of mollusks, 4 species of lobster, 202 species of fish and 135 species of coral. The islands are a marine protected area which helps to preserve this diverse marine environment. The protected status makes the eight islands a perfect destination on the Vietnam private tour for eager snorkelers and scuba divers.
Cham Island has several dedicated dive centres in the local area. A PADI certified guide or instructor is a great way to explore the many scuba diving sites around these islands. The professional dive instructors and guides have the knowledge to not only take the tourists out to the best dive spots, but also to talk about the culture and history of the islands. Scuba diving courses are available to divers of all skill levels, from the complete beginner to the advanced. The instructors are mostly English-speaking and many of them come from the UK, France or Italy.
After a captivating scuba diving experience in the morning, divers often have the opportunity to relax for the rest of the day on one of the white sandy beaches, or return back to their hotel on the mainland.