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Last updated on August 20, 2022
The Cham Islands are an archipelago of 8 islands located a few kilometers off Hoi An, on the central coast of Vietnam. Among them, the small uninhabited island of Hon Tai is one of the most popular with snorkeling tours. Crinoids, hard and soft corals, giant clams and starfish can be seen on the reef that fringes the island’s northern shore, which many tropical fish call home.
To go snorkeling in Hon Tai, you’ll have to book a snorkeling tour with a local operator. While most tours depart from the mainland (mainly from Cửa Đại Beach), it may be worth spending a night or two on Cù Lao Chàm, the largest island in the archipelago, easily reached by ferry from Hoi An.
From there, you’ll fully enjoy the island life and you will easily organize private tours of the surrounding snorkeling spots with local guides.
Water entrance is from the boat.
Most tours take snorkelers on the reef that borders the northern coast of Hoi Tai. The depth is on average 10ft/3m above the coral, but varies depending on the distance with the island.
The reef is quite damaged but hosts an interesting diversity of organisms, including hard corals (mainly massive coral decorated with Christmas tree worms), leather corals, sea lilies, and giant clams.
The presence of crown-of-thorns sea stars, which feed on coral, probably explains the average health of the reef ecosystem. Blue sea stars are also common at this location.
A decent diversity of fish can be spotted at reef, including oval butterflyfish, eightband butterflyfish, sergeant majors, two-lined monocle bream and a few small groupers.
Underwater visibility is most of the time decent at this location, but may decrease significantly depending on the weather and currents.
Hon Tai is an uninhabited island, with no facilities. Cù Lao Chàm, a few kilometers north of the island, has a large choice of restaurants and accommodation.
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Shallow coral reef with colorful fish
Fringing coral reef with colorful fish
Rocky bay with reef fish, schools of fusiliers and small sharks
Free shore access
Fringing reef with colorful fish
Free shore access
Coral reef with colorful and small sharks