‘Lapping up the sun on deck while a cooling sea breeze ruffles your hair ain’t a bad start to a Wednesday’, I thought happily as the waiting boat rumbled awake and the eager tourists clambered aboard. And, while the boat chugged slowly out of Cua Dai pier towards the Cham Islands, I couldn’t help but let out a (thankfully silent…it would’ve been quite girlie) squeal of delight.
It was a beautiful day. It was dive day.
A steaming fresh cup of coffee had been placed in my hands within minutes of stepping on board, and my gear was checked and rechecked, leaving no stone unturned. My dive partner, unable to descend with his sturdy frame glasses, suddenly found prescription goggles in his hands. Hoi An Diving Center’s organization and attention to detail was impressive from the outset.
As an official part of the UNESCO Heritage site since 2009, the diving sites around the eight Cham Islands are well preserved, protected, and (relatively) clean of underwater trash and debris. According to local reports on the marine ecology in the area, the waters around the Cham Islands are home to over 130 individual species of coral, 200 species of fish, 80 species of mollusks, 4 species of lobster, and the occasional turtle. I couldn’t wait to see that stunning diversity with my own eyes.
Finally strapped up and ready to go, our Master Scuba Dive Instructor Ruairi Hand nudged the group towards the drop. A gasp and a splash later, we descended into the haunting silence that is diving underwater. Bright fish of indescribable beauty and color scampered aimlessly; cautious clownfish hugged tightly to their anemone allies, a single radiant cuttlefish confidently wafted its way around the reef and great heaped congregations of coral swayed in the tide. For many, diving becomes a form of meditation, and with almost 20 dives under my belt, I now understand that sentiment. I could have stayed down in that paradise forever, but the lightening tank on my back said otherwise.
Luckily, the day consisted of two dives – Hon Tai West and Hon Dai North – with neither dive fully eclipsing the fifteen-meter depth mark but both giving a unique glimpse at a fragile world. Also included was a relaxing detour to Ong Beach on Hon Lao, where a delectable spread of traditional Vietnamese seafood (with veggie options too) satisfied our post-dive appetites. With our lunch successfully devoured, a brief meander to the nearby beach allowed some downtime to sleep off that post-meal lethargy. The shade under the palms provided a welcome respite from the searing sun overhead.
Hoi An Diving Center’s day trip offers a unique experience, with two dives chosen from around twenty excellent sites. Unlike most popular diving spots around the world, the sites near the Cham Islands are relatively empty of divers and snorkelers – presenting a welcome sight for any diver. The adventure is yours with freedom to explore and discover this underwater wonderland – a welcome change from the scuba certification factories in Thailand and Malaysia.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran with countless dives under your tank, or a nervous beginner looking to take your first true underwater steps, Steve Reid’s Hoi An Diving Center is your best bet in Hoi An.
Hoi An Diving Center offers comprehensive courses from complete basic certification through instructor certification. For those seeking a PADI Open Water or Advanced Open Water Certification with an available three to four days, a newfound confidence and a chance to explore dive sites worldwide awaits. For those seeking that extra challenge, Hoi An Diving Center has also attained the 5 Star Instructor Development Center status in 2015, the only dive shop in Central Vietnam with that status.
Hours: Monday – Sunday 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Add: 67 Nguyen Thai Học
Tel: +84 (0)235 6279 297
Snorkeling Day Trip:
1 Tank: 1.250.000 VND
2 Tanks: 1.800.000 VND
Fun Dives for the Experienced:
1 Tank: 1.150.000 VND
2 Tank: 1.800.000 VND
PADI Course Certification:
Call for Further Information
Cham Island Camping:
Daily Dive and Snorkel Schedule:
8 a.m. – Pick up from hotel
8:45 a.m. – Depart Cua Dia Harbour for Cham Islands
10:00 a.m. – Arrive at the first dive and snorkel site
11:30 a.m. – Arrive at the second dive and snorkel site
1:00 p.m. – Arrive at Ong Beach on Cham Island for seafood (or vegetarian) lunch and relax time before sailing back to the mainland.
5:00 p.m. – Arrive back at hotel in Hoi An