Vietnam has many islands, yet only one of them is
listed in the famous old “silk road” on the east sea. It is Cu Lao Cham or Cham
island, which has been recognised by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve. Here,
tourists can partake in sight-seeing or just enjoy the under-sea beauty.
Cu Lao Cham belonging to Hoi An town in Quang Nam province comprises of several
islets including the Lao, Lui, Dai, Mo, Kho, La, Tai and Nom, of which Lao is
the biggest. On this islet, there are the beaches of the Ong, Lang nad Huong
with about 3,000 inhabitants who earn their living by fishing and farming. Lao
islet has primeval forests, streams and beautiful beaches with clear, blue
Ten years ago, due to loose management, the local forest and sea resources were
over exploited by man. In the past, visitors from the mainland used to pillage
the local coral to keep as a souvenir, but now, this practice is strictly
Around Cu Lao Cham there are 135 species of coral, of which 6 have been
recognised as unique to Vietnam’s sea., 500 species of coralline and seaweed,
202 species of fish, 4 species of lobsters and 84 species of molluscs. The coral
reefs around Cu Lao Cham are highly valued by scientists and listed in the book
for special protection. In October 2003, Cu Lao Cham Nature Reserve was
established and become one of Vietnam’s 15 marine reserves.
Cu Lao Cham islet has a rocky abrupt shoreline where the sea waves crash,
creating magnificent views. In the large open caves, like the To Vo and Kho,
swifts build their nests on the high cliffs. The swifts nest is a tonic food.
Each year, about 400kg of swift nests are exported, bringing a turnover of US$2
million to the locals.
About 4 metres under the water around Cu Lao Cham’s islet is an incredible world
if wonders. When the sea is calm and it is sunny, tourists can travel across it
in a glass bottom boats to see the coral. Adventure-loving tourists can don
diving gear provided by the Sea Reserve Management Board and experience the
underwater world and the marvellous world of coral. All around them, there are
sea cucumbers and colourful fish dining on the coral parasites.
To raise local people and tourists’ awareness of Cu Lao Cham forest and sea
resources, the authorities in Hoi An City launched a campaign to inform the
public of the importance of protecting this natural wonderland. In addition,
they have made it easier for the local people to stabilise their life by
fishing, farming and supplying tourist services.