Beaches in the North are always crowded so the
romance of nature seems to be lost. However, for beachgoers looking for
somewhere relatively untouched, Co To Island’s beaches in Quang Ninh Province
are the perfect spot.
East of Van Don Island, Co To Island District comprises dozens of islands on
about 4,000 square kilometers. Among them, Co To Lon, Thanh Lan and Tran are
three largest and most attractive islands.
To get to Co To, take an hour boat ride from Cai Rong Wharf, which is an hour
and a half bus ride from Halong City. Though the cruise can be rough, it is
worth taking to see the breathtaking limestone islands sitting like sleeping
dragons on the water. These islands inspired a local legend.
Once upon a time, when Vietnam was invaded, the Jade Emperor sent a mother
dragon with a herd of little dragons to earth help the people defend their
country. When the enemy boats came towards the shore, dragons vomited thousands
of pearls and gems that turned into stone islands to prevent the enemy’s
approach. After defeating the invaders, the dragons did not return to heaven but
stayed on earth. The place the Mother Dragon resided is now Ha Long Bay and the
young dragons turned into the islands of Bai Tu Long Bay which contains the Co
To island group.
After an hour on the boat, green, misty mountain ranges and white sandy beaches
of Co To Island appear on the horizon.
The island boasts many beaches, of which the most popular is Bac Ho Beach, a
long stretch of sand bordered by pine forest. A paved path winds along the edge
of the sandy beach, lined with houses, shops and a market.
Van Chai and Hong Van are the two must-see beaches in Co To. Van Chai Beach is
still unspoiled. Tourists can relax and play in the big waves and stay overnight
in small bungalows. Hong Van beach is always quiet with small waves.
Bac Van Beach is known for the different kinds of coral that the authorities are
trying to conserve.
At Co To, trek up to the lighthouse to take in a panorama of the whole island.
On the way, there is a pine forest full of wild flowers and butterflies.
Tourists can take photos of many tamed monkeys on the island.
At the end of the day the sunset looks spectacular from the wharf as it sinks
behind the mountains leaving a darkening purple sky.