Story: Chi Hoa
Photos: Ngo Thanh Minh, Xuan Chinh, Nguyen Phu Duc

Dubbed “Gem Island”, Cat Ba is known for its beaches, limestone peaks and lush forests

Of the 2,000 islands that dot Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba is the largest. Located in the south of Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba lies just a 45-minute high-speed boat ride from downtown Hai Phong, making it the perfect place for a short getaway. Here heaven and earth seem to converge. The sapphire sea stretches to the horizon. When Cat Ba comes into view, golden beaches glint in the sun under steep limestone peaks covered with lush greenery.

Visitors looking for sun and surf head to the three beaches of Cat Co. In the afternoon, the waves rise, attracting surfers and strong swimmers. Those who prefer calm water should come early to admire the sunrise over the ocean.

From Cat Ba, visitors can board boats to explore Lan Ha Bay and stop by a number of beaches in nearby islands. One of the finest bays in the North, Lan Ha is dotted with steep rocky islets that rise out of the blue-green ocean. Visitors who prefer to explore this natural wonderland on their own can rent kayaks. Dive trips offer unforgettable views of the region’s marine life.

Beyond its beaches and ocean, Cat Ba also entices visitors with its otherworldly caves and forests. Just 8 km from Cat Ba town lies the Cat Ba National Park, known for its primordial tropical forest – home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. Cat Ba is also home to a number of interesting caves including Trung Trang Grotto, the Marble Grotto and Thien Long Grotto.

No trip to Cat Ba is complete without enjoying the fresh local seafood. One of the island’s signature dishes is charcoal grilled geoducks. Farmed year round, geoducks are always on offer in local restaurants. Other interesting local delicacies include roasted soft-shelled crabs, grilled dancing oysters with fried onions, and salty roasted Mantis shrimps.

It’s rare to find a place with so much to offer, from unspoiled surrounding islands and limestone mountains to ancient and mysterious forests. In the foreseeable future, construction will begin on the world’s longest gondola lift tramway, which will stretch for 21km and link luxurious recreational areas and resorts.  Visitors to Cat Ba can look forward to better facilities and exciting new services while enjoying the island’s shimmering beauty.