Clustered around 13 miles (21 kilometers) from Hoi An’s Cua Dai harbor, Vietnam's eight Cham Islands are known as Cham Island or Cù Lao Chàm. They offer white-sand beaches, granite cliffs, and coral reefs ideal for diving and snorkeling. The islands’ rich marine life and ecosystems have earned them UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status.
The main—and the only inhabited—Cham Island is Hon Lao, where public boats arrive, as do most day tours. While it’s possible to stay overnight on the islands, most travelers visit as a day trip from either Hoi An or Da Nang. Many Cham Island tours focus on the underwater attractions, whether diving, snorkeling, or underwater walking. Speedboat tours typically include stops at two or more beaches, which are hard to reach overland independently.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Shops and facilities are limited on the Cham Islands: Don’t forget your sunscreen.
- Both public boats and tour boats can be dangerously crowded: Use common sense before boarding.
- While bikinis are fine on the beach, put clothes on when leaving the beach or exploring villages.
How to Get There
Public boats, tour boats, and private speedboats depart near Cua Dai beach, outside Hoi An city. As riding the public boat means an overnight stay, most travelers opt for an organized speedboat tour. Boat trips typically include pickup and drop-off from hotels in either Hoi An or Da Nang.
When to Get There
On weekends, Cham Island is overflowing with mass tours. Visit midweek instead and avoid Vietnamese national holidays. Seas are dangerous during the wet season (October to February). June, July, and August are best for diving and snorkeling the beautiful coral. Cham Island tours run during the dry season (roughly March to September).
Cham Island Beaches
White sands are Cham Island’s main draw. The most popular tourist beaches are Chong Beach (Bai Chong) and Ong Beach. Both have restaurants and sun loungers. Bac Beach is laid-back, with hammocks, while Xep Beach (Bai Xep) is a pretty bay with a traditional fishing village. Small islands are more commonly visited on dive tours.