This island off the coast of Da Nang and Hoi An is for those who love remote, off-the-beaten-path getaways. Cham Island might be the perfect two-day stop for a traveler looking for a beach stay with nothing to do but a short bike ride around the island, snorkeling, and eating fresh fish.
I had pre-booked this trip through a company I found online. I booked a two-days of scuba diving which I thought would be four dives plus a hostel stay, but it ended up being two dives plus a homestay. Of course, I booked two extra dives since they were extremely cheap. Each day we went to two of the spots on the island for 1hour long dives while other people on board chose to snorkel the surrounding soft coral reef. The reef was lively with nudibranchs, blue starfish, giant clams, crabs, and even Nemo! Since this was only the second country I’d dived in, I didn’t have much to compare it to. Comparing it to Jeju in South Korea was less exciting, and I probably would have spent only one-day diving here. However, several more experienced divers I met said there was sea life they had never seen before, and they were happy to spend several days in the same spot. The dives were a perfect pause in my vacation to relax and work on my diving techniques. Next time, I’ll have to buy a go pro so I can capture the sea life around me.
Each day we stopped at a restaurant on the beach and were served a spread of seafood and noodles. Although The seafood did not top the beachside lunch I had while riding the Hai Van Pass; it was also quite tasty after the dives.
After my first dive, I got dropped off on Cham island for My overnight stay. My host’s grandmother met me at the dock and brought me to my homestay. I wish I had taken time to explore this quiet, quaint village on Cham, but I was tired from my dive; instead, I napped. I must have needed the nap because I slept through a thunderstorm that caused us to lose power.
I ate dinner by candlelight. My host served me fresh fried fish and fried rice. I think fried fish is my new favorite way to enjoy fish, especially if it was caught earlier that day in the bay outside your homestay. During dinner, I was joined by two Russian couples, one on their honeymoon. The couples played card games and guitar the whole night, and they were charming, teaching me a bit about life in Russia in their words, “you know the fascist” (like there’s no such thing as different dialects because the language is government regulated). They encouraged me to ask more questions about their home, but my shyness and exhaustion kicked in, so I opted to sit back and relax before turning it in early for another day of diving. Traveling and diving make me too tired to function. Am I the only one who gets to the point where their brain stops working some days?
The following day I got to talk to my host, who was incredibly sweet but made me uncomfortable. Seeing a plus side person is probably not a daily occurrence in Vietnam. Still, with access to the internet, western media, and the popularity of Marvel movies and other western movies and shows, we should not be an object to marvel at. My host proceeded to take pictures of me, including our legs and arms side by side, comparing the size to show her friends. To be fair to my host, it wasn’t just my weight and the size of my limbs nor how hairy my arms were that made me curious but also because I was a solo female traveler. My host was slightly jealous of me, wishing she could be her own woman and travel, but she informed me that Vietnamese culture is still very traditional. She told me women in her culture are expected to marry, have kids, and take care of the home while her husband was away days or weeks at a time working (Not only on farms, boats, and factories but abroad as well). She said she has a good life but is amazed by women doing things independently.
I wish I could say this was the only semi-fatphobic thing that happened to me while in Vietnam, but it was not. I honestly felt like I was in middle school again, where people might not outright say something mean, but the way they were deciding what they thought I could or could not do was telling of their views of me.
Cham island was a great mini getaway in the middle of my trip, allowing me to get back in the water exploring the ocean. I wished I had waited to book my diving trip and sopped around or just booked a day trip with my hostel. The company I took was a bit of a mess though all the crew members were friendly, and my second day was way more enjoyable than the first. On my first day, they had overbooked the dive. It felt a little unsafe with the number of people diving in my group in such a small tight area to be diving (we swam in smaller circles than I was used to and didn’t cover a large enough room to allow for a lot of space in-between divers). I did get my regulator ripped out of my mouth pretty forcibly by another diver swimming with their hands, and I took a few kicks to the body. I spent most of my first day getting away from the group and slowing my swimming to a crawl which was good practice but miserable. To top it off, I had to track them down after I had sent e-mails with no responses trying to verify my diving trip. I feel like all this may have happened because Vietnam had just opened up two months before due to covid and there was a major influx of tourist for the first time in two years. Again the crew members were super friendly and I would dive with them again because despite it all, I still enjoyed myself!
All The Places
On this map Cham island is known as Lao Island and the town is Tan Hien but all the locals call it Cham island
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