An off-the-beaten-track snorkeling destination 

Almost all snorkeling spots in Vietnam are located on the islands scattered along the country’s 3260km-long coastline.

Nha Trang is the most popular snorkeling area in Vietnam, with great snorkeling spots located just offshore, particularly in the Hòn Mun Marine Protected Area, reachable with boat tours. It is thought that 350 coral species are found in Nha Trang waters.

Just 50km north to Nha Trang is Hòn Ong (Whale Island). This small island is renowned for its shallow and calm waters found right off the beaches. Book a stay at Whale Island Resort to get some of Vietnam’s best shore snorkeling.

Snorkeling An Thoi Islands coral reefs
Vietnamese reefs are rich in sponges, including huge barrel sponges (Xestospongia testudinaria, on the left, photographed in Gam Ghi Island)

Côn Đảo, an idyllic archipelago of 16 mostly uninhabited islets just off the southern coast of the country, is also a great option. Protected by a National Park, this area offers some of the most pristine snorkeling spots in Vietnam, with a dozen great sites around the islands. Côn Đảo, located some 80km off the mainland’s coast, has really clear waters and provides better snorkeling conditions than anywhere else in Vietnam.

Located in the far south of Vietnam, close to Cambodia, Phú Quốc is also a fantastic snorkeling destination. Although underwater visibility can be an issue here during the rainy season, Phú Quốc boasts beautiful coral reefs and varied marine life. Take a boat tour to the An Thoi archipelago to snorkel Gam Ghi, Mong Tay and May Rut islands, the most popular snorkeling spots in the area.

Snorkeling in Con Dao, Vietnam
Côn Đảo archielago boasts pristine beaches and calm waters, perfect for shore snorkeling.

Other exciting snorkeling hotspots in Vietnam are the Cù Lao Chàm Marine Park (the Cham Islands, a group of 8 small islands off the coast of Hoi An, where you can snorkel for example in Hon Tai) and the shore of Núi Chúa National Park, a secluded coastal area some 60km south to Nha Trang.

Vietnam may not have the best underwater sightings opportunities compared to Thailand, Indonesia or the Philippines, but its marine life is quite varied.

Some snorkeling spots are rich in soft and hard corals, sponges, clams and nudibranchs. In the reef areas, expect to see a range of tropical fish from butterflyfish and clownfish to moray eels and pufferfish. If you are lucky, you may also spot green or hawksbill sea turtles, sea horses or frogfish in some specific spots.

When to go snorkeling in Vietnam

You can snorkel year-round in Vietnam, where the climate is tropical with a water temperature is constantly around 21 to 25°C (70 to 77°F). The best time to snorkel the south of the country -including Phú Quốc and Côn Đảo islands- is from November to March.

For the mid-coast and Nha Trang region, February to October is the best period, as the monsoon season extends from October to January in this area. Underwater visibility can be poor around the islands, especially during the rainy season and close to the deltas.

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