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'Dynamite' Diving on Whale Island?

Plenty of tree frogs, but where did all the fish go?

overcast 21 °C

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Leaving Hoi An on Thursday morning, we finally seemed to out-run the rain at Whale Island which is slightly north of Nha Trang (where we will stop in a few days on our onward journey towards Siagon – still 450 kilometres or 280 miles away). When we planned this trip, two days on a sandy, palm-lined beach with nothing more than a couple of novels and a rum cocktail seemed like a great idea. But neither Lloyd nor I ‘beach’ very well, so it was a godsend that this tiny resort has a pretty decent dive operation in ‘Rainbow Divers’. With just the two of us on board, we set off both Friday and Saturday mornings with a crew of three to explore a couple of local dive sites.

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Our dive boat. The diving wasn't great, which is a bit of a paradox given that this is allegedly where Cousteau got the idea for scuba-diving equipment!

Wish we could report that the diving was spectacular, but it wasn’t. Consistent with Lloyd’s pre-trip research, the visibility was poor (from 3 to a rare maximum of 30 feet!!), and there just wasn’t that much fish-life around. One reason is the illegal practice of dynamite fishing which is still – tragically – commonly used here. Our first dive of the day exposed a ‘ fishing’ team in action, with dozens of fish either stunned or killed by the blast. Happily, we weren’t in the water when the team detonated, but when we surfaced we found ourselves bobbing among two fishing boats collecting their bounty.

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Can you find Kermit?

On the bright side, the water was bath-tub warm, and the variety of corals was impressive. We saw some lion fish, the longest sea-cucumbers I've ever seen, a tiny shrimp, and interesting nudibranchs. I wouldn't come back to Vietnam just to dive, but it’s always wonderful just to get back in the ocean again, and these dives were intended as little more than a warm up for Papua New Guinea in a few weeks. Lloyd, of course, can’t be kept out of the water once he’s in it, and continues to confirm my suspicion that he’s part-man, part-fish.

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The resort itself offers basic, thatched bungalows just a few feet away from the beach. Constructed in part of bamboo, each bungalow is also home to any number of exotic beasties, including snakes, spiders and scorpions. A mosquito net over the bed was enough to reassure me that I wouldn’t be sharing the sheets with anything too unsavoury (other than Lloyd, of course), and we used our own net to prevent any stowaways climbing into our bags and shoes. Meals on the island are included in the room rate, and of the set menu variety. That has perhaps been our least favourite part of our stay here, with the food simply paling in comparison to the wonderful meals we’ve enjoyed throughout our time in Vietnam.

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The tree frogs chorused through the night which kept us awake, and was louder than the sound of the ocean lapping on the shore. But we can't compain. Enforced rest is always good for us even if we don't appreciate it at the time! But we're looking forward to finally getting to Ho Chi Minh City, which we will do on Monday after a Saturday overnight in Nha Trang and then a Sunday overnight train.

Posted by jacquiedro 17:12 Archived in Vietnam Tagged round_the_world

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