BEACHES HOI AN
Hoi An’s beaches are an essential stop during the roasting summer months. Whether you want to boogie the night away to live tunes at a beach bar or simply relax and enjoy the rhythm of the waves, beaches in Hoi An have it all.
There are two major beaches in Hoi An: An Bang Beach and Cua Dai Beach. Not too long ago Cua Dai Beach was the more popular place for beach lovers but due to significant erosion much of this once beautiful beach has been washed away. There are still spots of beach to found though and some evidence that the sands of yesteryear are returning. Another very popular favorite, Hidden Beach, has suffered a similar fate to Cua Dai Beach which means these days An Bang Beach is ‘the’ beach of choice for most. Further afield are some equally beautiful beaches to be explored.
An Bang Beach
After the massive bout of erosion that struck Cua Dai Beach in 2014, beach action in Hoi An quickly shifted to An Bang Beach, which was voted one of the top 100 beaches in the world by CNN. Both the north and south sides are lined with bars and restaurants, with many well-geared for English-speaking and European expats and tourists.
Digital nomads will find some excellent places to take their laptop and set up office for the day. Vegans and vegetarians will locate a number of delicious and affordable places to grab awesome food such as Fisherman. Meanwhile music lovers have several venues to choose from for a night of live music by the waves with Soul Kitchen and Soul Beach leading the way.
Early morning and late afternoon are the times the Vietnamese favor the beach but other than these peak times there is usually little trouble claiming a spot under a thatched umbrella and settling in for as long as you want if you buy a bottle of water.
There is a greater variety of cuisine and setting at An Bang than at Cua Dai, reflecting the sizable expat community residing there. The touts and urgers are far fewer as well.
Hopefully, this homestay-dominated environment will continue to limit larger developments. Existing developments blend well with the casurina-lined shore and An Bang is home to Hoi An’s best live music venue, Soul Kitchen, on its northern fringe as mentioned. At the southern end Soul Beach has rapidly become the pick for Westerners especially during the day.
For more information on all you can find at An Bang, check out our Quick Guide to An Bang.
(UPDATE: most of the beach was washed away after heavy seas during the winter 2018/19 but attempts to restore the sand met with some success. Only time will tell how well it lasts.)
Hidden Beach is a serene, pristine spot of sand located between An Bang beach and Cua Dai just north of Boutique Hoi An Resort, and one of the most relaxing parts of Hoi An that you’ll sink your feet into. Just as its name suggests, it remains relatively uncrowded and undeveloped compared to other sandy beaches, and a little more mysterious and out of sight.
Hidden Beach is an excellent place to soak up some sun; eat, drink, work or laze about. There’s a café/ restaurant facing the beach with decent WiFi connection, where you can sit down to enjoy some no-frills Vietnamese or Western food. Unlike most beaches in the area, there’s no extra charge for the loungers and umbrellas (for now, we know how quickly things can change) and the lack of crowds makes a great place to capture some idyllic images without being bombed by selfie sticks and tourists.
But be warned, the word is out and Hidden Beach is pulling more and more punters than ever before.
Cua Dai Beach
A massive area of Cua Đại Beach has been washed away by heavy rain, powerful waves, and a striking rise in sea level. Severe erosion began in 2013 with a large portion of the beach disappearing. After years of intensive rehabilitation, by the summer of 2017 parts of the beach and the visitors that once occupied it had temporarily returned. But its future continues to look uncertain.
Not long ago Cua Dai Road sat comfortably 200 meters from the ocean at Cua Dai Beach. That distance has now shrunk to just 80 meters in places. While upstream hydroelectric dams and sand mining are the main culprits, local development, especially resorts on the southern side, deserve part of the blame. They cleared away everything in their path to the water’s edge, as resorts tend to, not far from where the river meets the sea, and the natural defenses to erosion were removed.
During the 2014 typhoon season this steady progress was massively accelerated by storms and in a single weekend large stretches of beach disappeared. The central part of the beach was completely wiped out and resorts on the southern side lost their beaches as well. Recovery, if it ever occurs, is not in sight for any of them to the south.
Many commentators then wrote Cua Dai off in dramatic fashion. Once the playground for millions of visitors each year, ‘go elsewhere!’ was the cry. An Bang Beach, formerly a bohemian backwater for expats, quickly became the new destination. And, it must be said, those in the know were already preferring An Bang. With its numerous resorts and large hotels, Cua Dai had become overrun with touts and urgers who seemed to come by in a never-ending stream. ‘Relaxing’ at Cua Dai had become a battle.
A few coves remained, however, which is lucky for resorts like the Victoria and the Sunrise who have access to them. If you are prepared to walk a few hundred meters from your room and mix it with the local fishermen you still have spacious sandy areas with a handful of deckchairs and umbrellas. And resorts on the northern side of Cua Dai, like the Palm Garden and the Hoi An Boutique, have retained their beach frontages for now. Hoi An Now’s Top 10 Favorite Beach, Hidden Beach, is also still in reasonable shape (just north of the Hoi An Boutique).
But in several places the beach may be coming back and with all the crowds heading for An Bang these days Cua Dai may be worth a try away from the jet skis, paragliding and weekend crowds. Erosion problems are continuing so care must be taken.
Tan Thanh Beach
Tan Thanh Beach is 1.6 km from Cua Dai to the North in Cam An. It’s not as popular as the other beaches in the surrounding area, but equally stunning and idyllic. It’s a great place for visitors to stop by for an afternoon laze in the sun (minus swarms of tourists) or to enjoy some local cuisine by the seafront since many of the establishments are run by locals serving up Vietnamese food, unlike the many restaurants along Cua Dai and An Bang which predominantly cater to tourists.
The beach itself is wide and often shallow. Thus it’s not necessarily ideal for swimming but tourists can walk offshore considerable distances. Afternoon is the time for villagers and visitors to catch clams and have them boiled to eat on the spot.
A little north of Cua Dai between Tropical Beach Resort and Boutique Hoi An Resort. Nice and quiet but can attract a few in the afternoons. A great alternative to Hidden Beach (which is not so hidden these days) away from the crowds and clamor of An Bang.