Con Dao, who is this island for?
To be honest, Con Dao was not the priority in my bucket list. However, I was curious by my friend’s words who used to live there for 3 years. How special is this island that kept her stay and enjoyed it so much? After that, I got a job offer, moved to Con Dao and had my own answer to this question. I hope this island will keep being secluded as a hidden place for myself while I also share the great charm of Con Dao so many people can recognize and admire it.
For a history enthusiast:
Well-known for the prison and the cemetery, Con Dao is the tearful part of the Vietnam war. Due to its geographical location, the island was well suited for the exile colony: remote from the mainland, small enough to handle prison break.
Côn Đảo PrisonMJQ7+PR6, Nguyễn Chí Thanh, Côn Đảo, Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu, Vietnam
The first prison was established in 1862 for political prisoners during the French colonial era. In 1954, the South Vietnamese government took charge of it for the same purpose. The tiger cage is the prominent image of the prisoners' suffering. They were kept in cramped cages, endured a variety of inhuman and degrading punishments. More than 2000 prisoners who died in the brutal prison were buried at Hang Duong Cemetery. Nowadays, most Vietnamese tourists visit there to pay their respects to martyrs and worship Vo Thi Sau, a national heroine who fought against French soldiers. Vo Thi Sau is also the great symbol of patriotism and courage.
Hang Duong CemeteryMJV8+V6F, Côn Đảo, Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu, Vietnam
In addition, Con Dao also offers the one who loves nostalgic things like me the vibe of an old Indochina. Taking a walk along the ancient tree, passing the ruins of French villas and prisons, touching the yellow moss wall will bring you back to the old time.
For a nature lover:
Set foot on Con Dao, I was very surprised at its wildness. Few daily flights and speedboats from the mainland keep the island from being crowded with tourists. The National Park covered 82% of the island area. Accordingly, Con Dao is the unmissable destination for anyone looking for an escape into nature.
Even if you are an ocean or a mountain lover, this little island can satisfy all your travel longing. There are plenty of pristine beaches from the center one to the hidden place such as: Lo Voi beach, Dam Trau beach, An Hai beach. I spent hours at these beaches just basking in the sunshine, enjoying the turquoise seawater and the sound of the waves. The island used to be known as “hell on earth" because of the prisons. But should it be changed into “Paradise on earth” with the charming beaches?
Con Dao is also the wonderland of snorkelling, scuba diving. This trip will take you to the discovery of the underwatered world. Some islands off the coast like Bay Canh island, Hon Tai still boast about the untouched coral reefs and a diversity of marine creatures.
One more highlight of this island is the green turtle. At Bay Canh Island, watching the turtles laying eggs at midnight or releasing the baby turtles in the early morning under the guidance of the rangers is also a compelling experience.
To forest lovers, don't miss out the chance of immersing in the beauty of the National Park. Varied levels of trekking and hiking are available to explore the endless lush. Ong Dung Beach is one of the most popular trails which isn't too tough. The path is covered by the greenery of the old trees, along with the birdsong and the sunlight filtering through the leaves. The monkeys and black squirrels are usually spotted on the road too. Leaving behind the forest, the final stop is the beach where you can chill on the hammock and enjoy the oceanfront view. Dam Tre Lagoon is a more challenging trail but a hidden beach reserved for only you deserves beards of sweat.
Bãi Ông ĐụngBãi Ông Đụng, Vietnam
Excluding the National Park, my most favorite spot to see the island from above is on the top of Yen Ngua Mountain. A panoramic stunning vista of the faraway islands, the greenery and the blue ocean was in my eyesight.
A short hike I took is near Dat Doc Beach. About 30 minutes going up, I reached the scenery of Six Senses Resort below, the curves of the road and the lovely shape of Elephant mountain.
For a moment recorder:
It is not exaggerated that you can easily see the moment making you take out the camera. Breathtaking nature, picturesque architecture, and peaceful local life will be the great inspiration for your photos. One of the most sunsets I never forget is at Ca Map cape. At that moment, I was sitting still on the flat rock faced to the ocean speedlessly while the whole sky and the sea was being tinged with the pink red. Accordingly, besides swimsuit and trekking shoes, a camera or smartphone with spacious memories is a must-have item in your suitcase.
Mũi Cá MậpJJR7+688, Bến Đầm, Côn Đảo, Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu, Vietnam
Mũi Tàu BểMũi Tàu Bể, Côn Đảo, Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu, Vietnam
For a simplicity seeker:
I came to Con Dao when I was in my quarter-life crisis. But it turned out that island life gave me the best therapy to be soothed, be healed physically and mentally. Staying on this isolated island makes me feel even more connected, with nature, with the locals and with myself. No skyscrapers, no luxury shopping malls, no traffic jams, Con Dao brought me back to the simple but delightful things. I appreciate the little happiness around me. These are a cool sea breeze, a moment spotting the monkeys on the road, a starry night, the ocean glittering under the moonlight, a cold herb tea at the mountain pogoda or the random kindness I received from the locals. I felt blessed for all of these.
Eventually, among them, who do you think you are? And do you have the answer for my previous question? That is the way that Con Dao had my heart.
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