(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.)
Kept apart by a few kilometres of golden coastline and brought together by the less idyllic Lac Long Quon highway are the two main beaches of Hoi An, Cua Dai to the south, and An Bang to the north. However, in between these two lies another beach, one so well hidden they named it just that – Hidden Beach.
A stone’s throw from the Boutique Hoi An Resort, Hidden Beach is one of Hoi An’s best-kept secrets and a far quieter alternative to the other two. To those in the know Hidden is a treasure trove on a shoreline in increasing danger of being swallowed by huge hotels.
But it’s the people that run the place that really make it such a find. Mrs Lan and her family opened the restaurant a few years ago and, if you manage to unearth this gem, a friendly welcome awaits you (as well as free parking and free sunbed).
The beer’s cheap and the food’s not bad either; their version of the hoi An speciality, White Rose, is one of the best around.
Like many Vietnamese, the family’s bow has more than one string. Today their modest restaurant has evolved into a ‘restaurant/cum dress shop/cum spa’. Really, you need never leave. But, if you do, they’ve got that covered too, selling tours to Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son and Hue Citadel.
After years of endeavor the family are starting to reap the rewards, it seems the secret, if there ever was one, is out. And the family are seizing the opportunity with both hands. The Spa is getting plenty of takers and sometimes Hidden Beach is almost uncomfortably crowded.
This rapid expansion is not just the result of the Lan’s entrepreneurial spirit and hard work, it’s also a sign of the times as tourists flock to the area in ever-increasing numbers. In 2014, an estimated 3.7 million tourists visited Quang Nam Province, the jewel of which is Hoi An’s Ancient Town, and that number is expected to rise again this year. The problem is Hidden’s charm, like Hoi An itself, is down to its quiet unspoilt beauty. The more popular the area becomes the harder it will be to maintain.
Fortunately, for now, the beach remains a little piece of paradise. Crowds tend to gather in the afternoon but if you get there early enough you’ll only have just the East Sea and the distant Cham Islands for company.
So, what does the future hold for Hidden Beach? Well, the Lan family will continue to work hard and improve their burgeoning business, the sun will keep shining and the tourists in the know will find one of the best spots in Hoi An.
You’d be a fool not to try and find it, but if you do, shh! Keep shtum, and whatever you do, DO NOT write an article telling everyone.
Revised and updated March 2018