During Vietnam’s long fight for freedom,
Con Dao Island was hell on earth. Today, this former prison island is a natural paradise
Con Dao is famous not only for its stunning white sand beaches but also for its national park that is home to old-growth forests and diverse flora and fauna. Con Dao is located where two ocean currents meet: a warm current from the South and a cool current from the north. Long isolated from human activities, Con Dao’s undersea nature has proliferated. In terms of density of creatures and the number of species, Con Dao has one
of the richest ecosystems in Vietnam. The Sea animal Centre in Con Dao has recorded 1,493 species that belong to three main ecosystems: mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs. Con Dao has 44 species that are extremely rare and genetically valuable and are listed in the redbook. This area is also home to some reptiles and large mammals, including the long-beaked dolphin, blue whales and dugongs, the latter being very rare and internationally protected. Con Dao is the only place in Vietnam where dugongs may be found, as these large mammals feed on seagrass beds. reptiles found in Con Dao include sea snakes and sea turtles. Con Dao has the largest number of sea turtles in Vietnam. There are up to 17 sand flats in Con Dao where turtles lay eggs, including four places where up to 1,000 turtles nest each year.
Con Dao is an archipelago of 16 islands. Visitors have many tour options, including spiritual tours, historical tours, forest ecosystem tours, marine ecosystem tours, sports tours, and scientific research tours. Marine ecosystem tours are especially popular in the summer. In Con Dao town, visitors board small boats and tour various islands such as Bay Canh, Tre lon, Tre nho, Tai, and Trung to dive, snorkel, fish or watch sea turtles lay their eggs. The turtle nesting season runs from april to September. Visitors should not miss this experience. Tours usually depart at 4pm and return at 6am the next morning. as well as seeing baby turtles hatch and make their way into the sea, visitors can enjoy an amazing sunset and sunrise over the ocean.
Forest ecotours in the national park are also memorable. The Con Dao national Park has more than 2,700 species of plants and animals, including 100 species that are rare and endemic. There are many endangered species that are listed in the IUCn (World Conservation Union) redbook, such as the Con Dao long tailed macaque, the nicobar pigeon and the India python. Walking through the forest, visitors will hear birdsong, see colourful butterflies and learn about this island’s rare flora and fauna.