Aptly named, Long Beach stretches for almost 20km along the southwestern coast of Phu Quoc. Beginning just south of Duong Dong town and stretching almost as far as An Thoi on the southern-most tip of the island, the beach’s yellow sand is backed rows of coconut palms along its entire length. During the dry season months (November to April) the water is almost completely motionless: a liquid mirror to the sky. However, Long Beach is now the scene of some of the most intense and large-scale development on the island, especially its central and southern sections.
Sao Beach, with its arcing palm trees, snow-white sand, and distinctive butane-blue water, is one of the most popular beaches on the island. Once touted (but incorrectly, even back then) as the ‘Best Beach in Vietnam’, Sao is still a very attractive stretch of sand to walk along and swim. But, sadly, the writing has been on the wall for Sao Beach for at least a few years, and there are many reasons for this. Its increasing popularity led to haphazard, temporary construction of small resorts, bars, cafés, and restaurants; trash quickly built up – squeezed into the narrow freshwater creeks that feed onto the beach and into the sea; jet skis filled the waters with gasoline and broke the silence; even the husks of fresh coconuts – consumed in the hundreds by day-trippers each day – built up to clog the sand and the surf.
Thom Beach has a stark beauty. Silent, still, hot, sparsely populated, and filled with the scent of cashew fruit and the sound of midday cicadas, there’s something beguiling about this remote northeastern tip of Phu Quoc Island. Most of the beaches are pebbly, rocky, and hidden from view – reached via dirt tracks – and the water’s very shallow and tidal here. Thom hamlet consists of just a few local shops, a couple of seafood restaurants, fishermen’s houses, and a school. And yet, tranquil, sleepy Thom Beach is charming and characterful. It may not have the long, stretching sands of other beaches, but it has calm shallow waters, hiding some coral and plenty of fish, wonderful views over to the Cambodian coast and highlands, friendly locals, lush tropical foliage, a couple of informal places to sit and to stay, and most importantly, hardly any large-scale construction or noise pollution. Thom Beach and the surrounding area is ripe for exploration, and it’s a place to sit back, relax, and let time stand still for a bit.
Ganh Dau Beach
On the remote northwestern tip of the island, Ganh Dau Beach is a wonderful little corner of flour-white sand fringed by palm trees, and bounded to the east by high, densely jungled ridges. Reached via a paved lane leading east from the lively fishing village of the same name, Ganh Dau Beach is sheltered and shaded, the water calm and shallow with a cluster of wooden fishing boats moored offshore, and the Cambodian islands lying only a few kilometres in the distance, their blue silhouettes sitting on the horizon like humpback whales.
Ganh Dau is the name given to the entire northwestern cape, including a picturesque bay sheltering the local fishing fleet, a surprisingly bustling little fishing town with an active and interesting market, a filthy fishing harbor, and lots of street food and local life. But down by the beach, it’s very quiet, and there’s none of the mega-resort construction here that plagues so much of the rest of the west coast of Phu Quoc. The resorts that have been built are, so far, small and beautifully positioned.
Bai Dai Beach
In the northwest of Phu Quoc Island, Dai Beach was, until quite recently (only a few years ago, in fact) completely undeveloped, save for a handful of seafood shacks dotted on the grass under the shade of large tropical trees. However, that changed dramatically when Vingroup moved in (as they always do) to build a mega-resort complex, including theme parks, waterparks, casinos, golf courses, safaris, enormous hotels, and rows upon rows of luxurious faux-Roman villas. Collectively known as Vinpearl, this development now sprawls along the entire northern and central sections of Dai Beach, while other developers have moved in on the southern section.