Ca Na Beach & Vinh Hao
Ca Na and Vinh Hao are located in Binh Thuan Province, between Phan Thiet and Phan Rang, in southern Vietnam. The road North from Phan Thiet to VINH HAO and CA NA leads past Whiskey Mountain, a solitary peak that once supported a small American military outpost and helicopter pad. Plantations of enormous green dragon cactus line Highway 1, with long white flowers and florescent pink fruit the size of ostrich eggs, decorating their octopus-like arms. Soon the dragons and rice pattie gives way to the Binh Thuan Desert where vast dunes sweep across the parched countryside. The area is prone to drought and sand storms during dry season. Passing through the town of Cho Lau and the quaint fishing port of Phan Ri Cua, you may notice ethnic Cham residents wearing traditional clothing. The men wear long white robes and turbans with red accents. As you venture closer to Phan Rang, you will travel deeper into the heart of the Champa kingdom and see ancient red temples on the hillsides.
At Vinh Hao and Ca Na the rocky mountains tumble into the sea in one of the most rugged landscapes in the country. This is a seismically active area. Water at the Vinh Hao mineral hot springs is bottled and sold across the nation. Upwelling in the bay contributes to some of the best coral reefs in the country, which are the main attraction. In the reefs surrounding Cu Lao Hon Island there are 147 known species of coral, 46 crustacean species and 211 recorded species of fish. To explore this underwater paradise, you'll want to stay at Vietnam Scuba, 062/853917, 062/853918, www.vietnamscuba.com, in Vinh Hao, 100 km NorthEast of Phan Thiet. The comfortable resort offers convenient bungalows overlooking the bay. Room, 3 meals and a day of diving costs $130. Night diving is also available.
Three kilometers away, Ca Na is an active fishing village on the border of Ninh Thuan Province, and offers some great hiking in the mountains or a chance to explore the village. A steep climb up to Lac Son Pagoda provides a spectacular view of the bay. Although there are a few hotels in Ca Na, unless you are looking for complete isolation from other foreign tourists, and don't mind the sounds of traffic from the highway, there's little reason to stay in Ca Na overnight.
This segment is reprinted with permission from the New Guide to Binh Thuan Province, including Mui Ne Beach and Phan Thiet City, now available for download and print (for FREE) at: http://www.muinebeach.net/vietnam_guidebook.htm