According to the internet, Hai Hoa beach is a very peaceful and serene beach relatively close to Nghi Son Economic Park, which is where we lived in Vietnam. We had already found a great beach- Bai dong Beach, or Nghi Son Eco Island, but I’m always up for checking out a new beach! So, we called up Mr. Taxi, our go-to taxi guy, and headed out! It was very hot on my birthday, so we visited in the morning hours to try to beat the heat. That didn’t really work, as the sun rises before 5 am and it is sweltering hot by 7 or 8am. Anyway, after about a half hour of driving, we reached the beach. From the pictures online, it looked like a very long expanse of untouched tropical beach. In reality, this beach was bustling with many fishing boats anchored on the sand. I love the beach because I can let my kids play and not worry about them doing anything naughty. Well, with boats close by, I had to be on alert to make sure they didn’t mess up the anchors or get in the way of the boat!
When we arrived, the tide was WAY out, so we hiked down from the restaurant-lined road and staked out a spot on the dry sand close to the water. To reach this area, we had to cross a stretch of sand that was almost completely covered in crab hide outs, which was exciting! Although this beach is popular with tourists and locals, it was a week day and we only saw one other family playing at the beach the whole time we were there. It was very sunny and in general, the Vietnamese don’t really go out in the sun without being completely covered from head to toe, so swimming at the beach on a hot, sunny day does not seem like a great idea to them. These two cute, tiny old fishing women came up to me as I’m standing on the beach in my swim suit and told me to cover up and put on a hat. They could not speak English, and I can’t speak Vietnamese, but they made themselves pretty clear by pointing to their clothes and then to my bare shoulders, and then to their hats and my bare head. I showed them my sunscreen and they were appeased. I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but Landon and Owen were actually more tan/ had darker skin than the kids in Vietnam because they were allowed to play out in the sunshine. Interesting cultural differences here!
Mr, Taxi will make his appearance in later blog posts, but he really was the best! He could always be counted on to take us and pick us up from Bai Dong beach, which is kind of difficult to get to because of the poor road quality, and he loved Landon and Owen. After parking his taxi, he came down to the beach to play with Owen while I played with Landon. He was a great sport even when Owen splashed him with water! There he is in the background of the picture above, squatting down playing with Owen. After our excursion, he even bought us ice cream! Mr. Taxi is the best!
It seemed like the road that ran parallel to the beach was packed with open-air restaurants on the beach side, with hotels dotting the other side of the road. There were also pine trees growing right up to the sand!Aside from the fishermen, there were no other people or customers in sight, although I think things might get more crowded on the weekend. Since this beach was pretty flat, the tide came in fast and with it, a bunch of big jellyfish. They looked very similar to the jellyfish we discovered in Israel. We gave them a good poke and avoided the tentacles as they washed in.
Landon frolicked in the water for awhile, and Owen and joined him for a few minutes. The next thing I know, I look back and see that the tide has come in so far that our stuff was getting wet! Water came from both directions- in the channel closer to shore and from the water line itself, to soak our towels! I ran as fast as I could with Owen in arms back to shore and rescued our belongings and put them high up on the beach where they were safe. In order to take more things at once, I put Owen down in a few inches of water, thinking he would stand there or walk around until I came back. Nope. Instead, he laid down on his belly and started scooting around the channel, with his head almost below water, licking the salty water with his tongue! Thankfully, I was close by and could rescue him before he went too deep, but he’s a funny kid!
As the water came in, the crabs started coming out more. They were tiny but there were so many of them! When the tide is out, they dig holes in the sand to hide, and leave little sand balls all over the beach, sometimes in interesting patterns. It is really neat to watch! Landon caught some crabs and then we were all getting overheated and headed back to our hotel. When the water is not much colder than the air temperature, and it is very humid, there is not much respite for the heat besides car air conditioning.
Although Hai Hoa beach is more popular with tourists from Hanoi, and is a much bigger beach with more restaurant/lodging options, I definitely preferred Bai Dong beach. Hai Hoa is just a little ways north of the refinery, and it seemed that the water is not quite as clean as the water from Bai Dong beach. It was certainly scenic and interesting to watch the fishermen in their boats, but with the kiddos I prefer not having to worry about the kids messing with the fishing boats while we are enjoying a beach day. Apparently, people visit Hai Hoa just for the seafood. We didn’t try any seafood while we were there, because Austin warned us there was a large scale spill in the water a few years ago and the fish and other seafood might be contaminated. Moral of the story: beaches are fun, if it’s not going to be that big of a deal to drive an extra half hour and pay 15,000 dong/person, go to Bai Dong beach instead. It’s just better- more secluded, cleaner, and has more shady places to take a break from the sun.