Explore Cu Lao Xanh

We left Ham Tu Port – Quy Nhon on a market boat heading towards Cu Lao Xanh on a rainy morning due to the influence of a low-pressure system heading towards the East Sea. It is called a market boat because it regularly transports people and goods to and from the island with two daily trips in the morning and afternoon.

However, the spacious and sturdy boat gave us a sense of safety, especially due to its punctuality and the friendly attitude of the boat owner and crew, treating us like close acquaintances.

After 1 hour and 40 minutes, the boat circled around the southeast side of the island before entering a small bay sheltered by three sides of mountains, with only one side facing the sea, and docked at the Cu Lao Xanh dock. Just a few steps further, we reached the center of the island’s commune, Nhơn Châu, adjacent to the long-standing fishing village hidden under coconut trees along the coastline – a distinctive characteristic of the coastal fishing community.

We decided to follow Mr. Do Van Gieo (also known as Sau Gieo, 61 years old) – a veteran islander from the fifth generation of a native family on the island. He took us by motorboat to Yen Islet, approximately 3km east of Cu Lao Xanh. As the boat approached Yen Islet, the echoing sounds of chirping swallows flying across the sky filled the air.

According to Mr. Sau Gieo, Yen Islet is the common name for two islands, Ong Gia (Old Man) and Ong Tao (Old Woman), named based on the shapes of each island. Furthermore, these two islands are homes to numerous swallow species, predominantly the swiftlet and a few others. Due to the limited swiftlet nests, local authorities have refrained from exploiting them. Thanks to this, both types of swallows continue to proliferate.

Returning to Cu Lao Xanh, we anchored at the head of the reef. We began our underwater adventure equipped with diving masks and snorkels at a depth of about four arm spans. However, despite the warm, clear sea, vast stretches of coral reefs, and colorful schools of fish shimmering underwater, the constant underwater currents prevented us from calmly enjoying the scenery, so we had to seek another diving spot.

We arrived at a reef where, according to local divers, there were still vast expanses of natural coral reefs. Indeed, at the first glance under the ocean, we were enchanted by the ‘flower garden’ displaying the various vibrant coral formations, sea fans, soft corals, interspersed with algae.

And the scene became even more mesmerizing as groups of fish swam around, gracefully moving through the crevices of coral reefs, resembling an underwater ballet. Sometimes, they suddenly turned their heads back, staring curiously at the uninvited visitors, seemingly inspecting and intimidating them.

In the quietness beneath the ocean, indulging in the sights around us, I suddenly remembered the devastating coral reef incidents in Khanh Hoa and the wanton destruction of innocent coral reefs for mass tourism at the beautiful beaches from Kien Giang to Ninh Thuan, Da Nang to Ha Long…

Comparatively, the care and preservation efforts of the residents and local authorities of Nhon Chau Island for the marine resources deserve much appreciation.

The next morning, we chose the Cu Lao Xanh lighthouse on the peak, 103m above sea level, to witness the sunrise heralding a new day.

The eagerly awaited moment arrived as the dawn began to break, and the sunrise, especially when the red fiery ball emerged from the horizon, gradually reflected its dazzling light on the waves, creating a magnificent, exquisite painting.

Choosing the Cu Lao Xanh lighthouse to start the day’s tour, Mr. Sau Gieo had planned it perfectly.

It served as an ideal spot to witness the sunrise and also to visit the national flag column on the high hill, inaugurated on October 31, 2014, and the lighthouse – one of the oldest lighthouses in Vietnam. The 16.05m tall lighthouse was built entirely of stone.

From the first swing of the pickaxe on August 20, 1890, it took 10 years for the construction to complete and the main light to become operational (1899). In 1992, the postal service selected the image of the Cu Lao Xanh lighthouse alongside the Can Gio (Ho Chi Minh City), Vung Tau, and Long Chau (Hai Phong) lighthouses to design and issue the first set of stamps featuring Vietnam’s lighthouses.

Cu Lao Xanh boasts approximately 6km of concrete roads around the island, which we likened to the ‘path of exploration’.

It was a combination of seclusion and tranquility. It was also a panoramic view from above: beaches named in a rustic manner like Da Hon, Nam Beach, Bac Beach, and the small, smooth, sparkling white sand; also the home to birds, especially seagulls, who return here to breed and thrive throughout the year. Then, the rocky mountain ranges, composed of a variety of stones, shapes, and sizes, stacked on top of each other, forming hills.

Occasionally, the wind blowing through the rock cavities created melodic sounds, sometimes low, sometimes high, combined with the sound of the waves and the chirping of birds, creating a harmony of the sea and sky. It was the result of geological