The An Thoi Islands
Just off the southern tip of Phu Quoc, and accessible only by boat, the islands of the An Thoi Archipelago are blessed with pristine beaches, lush forests, rocky cliffs, and incredible snorkeling. We embarked on an all-day boat trip, which took us to four of them.
We hadn’t booked a trip in advance, but didn’t think this would be a problem. In fact, after parking at the ferry station in An Thoi, and even before having dismounted from our motorbikes, we were being approached by tour operators. There’s a lot of competition, so prices are highly negotiable. We joined forces with a couple of girls from Germany, and were able to get a five-hour trip arranged for Đ250,000 ($11) apiece. We could probably have driven the price even lower, but this felt fair.
After piling into a tiny boat, our group set sail. Our captain was hilarious and seemed to enjoy slapping me on the back. He’d say something to me in Vietnamese, I’d kind of shrug to indicate incomprehension, and he’d laugh hysterically and slap my back again. No problem, sir, slap away. Just please watch out for those waves. Captain, the waves!!
By the time we arrived at Hòn Gầm Ghì, all of us were soaking wet. But this wasn’t a concern, since our plans at the beach included snorkeling and roasting ourselves in the sun. This beach was a thing of beauty… palm trees, white sand, a rocky promontory to climb, and excellent coral right off shore. I could have stayed all day, and was disappointed when our captain signaled that it was time to leave, after about an hour.
Our next destination was Hòn Xưởng, to the northeast of Gầm Ghì. The beach we anchored at was a little smaller, and we passed up swimming in favor of hanging out in the shade with the German girls and a couple guys from Austria who’d arrived on another boat. There was no shortage of other tourists… these islands are a popular destination among both Vietnamese and foreigners, but there was never too many people, and it was fun to run into the same faces on each island.
The third island of our tour was Hòn Vông, back toward the west. By now, I was familiar with the pattern: beautiful beach, warm water, small crowd, lots of boats, and shade-casting palm trees. Not that I’m complaining! We stayed at this beach for a long time, and when our captain gave the signal to set off, we were all ready to return to Phu Quoc.
Not so fast, though! We would be making yet another stop at an island called Hòn Vang. The beach here was not nearly as lovely, and nobody in our group was feeling it. This had already been a long day, and it was pretty clear that we only stopped to provide business to the beach-side restaurant. Our group, unified, told the captain that it was time to return home… the ability to make such decisions was a big benefit of being in a small boat.
Overall, we loved our day out on the islands, and I’d rate this as a “must-do” experience on Phu Quoc. The beaches are absolutely lovely, and the boat trip is a lot of fun. It’d be best to have your own vessel, of course, but we were really happy with the tour we had organized from the pier.