Quang Ninh, the landscape in North Vietnam, is favored by the Creative not only with Halong Bay, a well-known world heritage, but also many other natural stunning sites. Bai Tu Long Bay, a part of the Gulf of Tonkin, is a biosphere reserve with impressive limestone islands and a rich flora and fauna system. Coming to Bai Tu Long Bay, you should not ignore an island with a sweet name: Banh Sua Island. The island with its attractions has captivated all tourists at first sight.
I. Overview of Banh Sua Island
Banh Sua Island is also called Ong To Island or Tu Hai Island. There are some interesting stories that explain the origin of these names. The island was named after Mr. Do Huu To, the man who opened a company with its headquater on Banh Sua Island. The company focused on developing the fisheries and raising geoduck in the conditions of Banh Sua Island. Due to the fact that this area is one of the most advantageous environments for raising geoduck in North Vietnam and geoduck is also its specialty, many people called it Tu Hai Island (“tu hai” means geoduck).
Banh Sua Island is located in The Vang Area of Bai Tu Long Bay. The island is considered as the “youngest brother” among hundreds of islands in this bay because it is the smallest one. The 1-square-kilometer area of Banh Sua Island is surrounded by a calm sea with a diverse system of marine creatures. The neighbors of Banh Sua Island include The Vang Island in the west, Dong Chen Island in the east, Phi Ma Island in the south and Bua Thuoc Island in the north, which are also tourist attractions in Bai Tu Long Bay.
II. Highlights of Banh Sua Island
Banh Sua Island is like a little turtle swimming in an immense sea. From afar, tourists can immediately realize Banh Sua Island is covered by the green color of trees hustling on limestone cliffs. In spite of the small area, Banh Sua Island is the home of various marine creatures, some of which brings economic efficiency to the local residents.
Thanks to the calm water of an off-shore island, the sea of Banh Sua Island is a favorable condition for growing seafood, including oyster and geoduck. Not having long sand beaches or high-end resorts like many other islands, the atmosphere of Banh Sua Island is quite peaceful. The locals there live a simple life; they have a strong attachment to the sea, which has nourished them since their childhood.
Another significant trait of Banh Sua Island is the coral reefs around the island. Corals cannot exist in all kinds of water but only clear water with light waves and calm sea. Therefore, Banh Sua Island is one of the few places in Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay where tourists can contemplate colorful coral reefs as well as its underwater biodiversity.
III. What to See and Do in Banh Sua Island?
1. Swimming to enjoy the clear water
Although most of the sea around Banh Sua Island is used for raising seafood, there is still a small corner of the island with a white sand beach, which remains the pristine beauty. There tourists can sunbathe and immerse their bodies in the crystal and cool water of Bai Tu Long Bay. The water seems to make all the tiredness and disquieting thoughts go away so that everyone feels the most comfortable to enjoy their holiday.
2. Diving to admire coral reefs
The coral reefs is an unique feature of Banh Sua Island that must be included in the itinerary of visitors. The best time to explore the coral reefs is when the tide goes out, which exposes a large area of coral reefs and its ecosystem. Seeing the corals from above is possible, but diving to discover a diverse world with colorful marine beings is much more intriguing. Tiny and striking fish in hidden positions of sand and rocks, some mischievous crabs and shrimp, along with sluggish starfish contribute to an amazing world in the coral reefs.
3. Experiencing the daily life of the locals
It can be said that a trip to Banh Sua Island is an eco-tour since tourists will get a good chance to enjoy a day like a fisherman. Waking up at 5 AM, carrying a bucket then following the locals to the sand beach, you can catch fresh sea cucumbers under rocks. When the sunrise, the fishing boats come by Banh Sua Island to purchase seafood, which creates a crowded market right on the seashore. The crowd will not last for too long, so when the boats and fishermen leave, Banh Sua Island comes back to its quiet appearance. Also in Banh Sua Island, tourists can follow the locals to visit rafts raising geoduck and experience catching groupers.
4. Seeing beautiful sunrise and sunset
In Banh Sua Island, the most ideal spot to see sunrise or sunset is not the beach but the highest peak of the mountain on the island. It takes tourists about 15 minutes to cross over the tough path leading to the top of the mountain. From a high position, not only can you catch the splendid sights of the earliest and latest moments of a day but you can also admire the immense view of Bai Tu Long Bay. The sea and sky at these times are stained by the red and orange sunlights, which will be an unforgettable scene during your journey.
5. Enjoying local seafood
After a long day of experiencing, your empty stomach might remind you to find something to eat for dinner. Certainly, seafood is a must-try dish for everyone coming to Banh Sua Island. Geoduck and oyster of this island are considered the most delicious due to its fresh and natural flavour. There is no luxurious restaurant on Banh Sua Island, so the local people will cook your meal. The seafood is grilled on charcoal fire to keep all the nutritions and taste. Sipping a cup of beer and enjoying the flavor of Bai Tu Long sea in your mouth could be the most thrilling feeling you have on the trip to Banh Sua Island.
IV. How to Get to Banh Sua Island?
There are not many cruise ships stopping at Banh Sua Island. From Hanoi, tourists need to take a coach in My Dinh Coach Station to get to Cam Pha City. Going to Cai Rong Port in this city, tourists have to go on the ship from Van Don to Ngoc Vung Island. On the way to Banh Sua Island, visitors can admire the beauty of Bai Tu Long Bay with hundreds of islands in many shapes and sizes. After a 30-minute journey on ship, tourists can reach the Banh Sua Island in The Vang Area.
The ticket fees for going on a ship are varied, depending on the kind of ship you choose. The prices range from 60,000 VND to 160,000 VND. It is a bit more expensive if you want to hire the entire ship for your group.
V. Extra Tips
- Travelling to Banh Sua Island is a bit difficult due to the fact that not many ships can take you there. So the best way for a journey to this island is to go on a tour with a travel agency.
- The best time to visit Halong Bay as well as Banh Sua Island is in summer, from May to September. You should watch the weather forecast to prepare for your journey. Going on a sunny day is the best idea.
- There is no hotel in Banh Sua Island, so if you want to stay on the island for more than 1 day, you should ask the local residents for their permission to stay in their houses or ships. Don’t hesitate to ask because all the people there are friendly and helpful.
- Some adventurous activities in Banh Sua Island need to be taken in group with the guide of the instructors. Ensure your safety when climbing the mountain, swimming and diving with necessary equipment. Let your journey be safe and sound.
- Don’t forget to protect the environment of Banh Sua Island to preserve its beauty as well as the biodiversity of the sea surrounding the island.
Coming to Quang Ninh Province, it would be a pity if you do not go on a journey to discover the sea and ocean there. Among thousands of islands in the Gulf of Tonkin, Banh Sua Island is a unique attraction of Bai Tu Long Bay. Apart from an area for raising seafood, Banh Sua Island nowadays is becoming a nextstop for those who want to experience life in an off-shore island. If you have a chance to visit Quang Ninh in general and Bai Tu Long Bay in particular, you should not miss this wonderful destination.