Off the coast of Nha Trang and located in Cam Ranh Bay, Binh Ba Island is an unspoiled paradise that’s open only to Vietnamese nationals. Unknown to most due to its visitation restrictions, few tourists have ever heard of this island. However, the word is spreading about the pristine beaches and crystal clear waters that surround it, and every year, more tourists book a trip to Binh Ba.
Although some parts of the island still have restricted access, most of Binh Ba is now open to local tourists. Awaiting those who are lucky enough to visit is an island paradise that boasts a small commune, pagodas, beaches, and coral reefs.
Pristine Island Open to Vietnamese Nationals
Covering an area of just over 3 sq km (1 sq mi), Binh Ba Island is an isolated paradise in Vietnam’s Khanh Hoa (Khánh Hoà) Province. Not many people live on the island full time and those that do have settled in the Cam Binh (Cam Bình) Commune.
Rising from the sea, the tallest point of Binh Ba Island is 204 m (669 ft) above sea level while its lowest point sits barely above the water with an elevation of 0.5 m (1.6 ft). On the flattest part of the island, rocky shores and white sand beaches are open for exploration. To get to this remote island, tourists will have to travel to Cam Ranh City on Vietnam’s South Central Coast.
At the Da Bac Port in Cam Ranh, tourists will be able to find boats to take them to Binh Ba Island. Travelers should not get confused about which port to use. While there are two ports in the city, Ba Ngoi Port is often used for larger ships that are used to transport goods and products, not people. Commonly used as a fishing port, Da Bac has boats for hire that go to Binh Ba Island.
Most boat tours are affordable, take about 1 hour to reach the island, and are the only way of accessing it as taking a flight is not an option. All travelers must provide valid documentation to board a boat as the island is only open to Vietnamese nationals. Those who are not able to present valid documentation to travel to Binh Ba will be restricted from boarding a boat.
Not much history is known about Binh Ba Island because of its unique status. Historically and currently, the island is used for military purposes. Previously, the military’s presence in Binh Ba ensured that it was fully restricted access by anyone non-military.
The commune that developed on the island was believed to have begun in the 1700s when local fishermen found the island during an intense storm. During the 18th century, more people traveled to settle on the island. Currently, not public knowledge, there is no time frame of when the island fell under military control.
In recent years, the island has loosened its restrictions to allow Vietnamese nationals to access certain parts of the island for tourist purposes. Visitors in Binh Ba should be vigilant for any signs that mark restricted access, as some parts of the island are still managed by the military and are off-limits to civilians.
As tourism in Binh Ba continues to expand, foreigners will have to wait and see if there’s ever a day when the island is open to international tourists. As of now, it seems that there aren’t any plans to further loosen the island’s visitor restrictions.
- Recently, the locals have discovered Hon Tu (Binh Hung) Island, which is about 3 nautical miles to the west of Binh Ba Island.
- Mountain topography and Delta plain are the two main types of terrain that can be seen at Binh Ba Island.
- The most common translated name for Binh Ba Island is “Lobster Island”.
In tune with most attractions on tropical islands, activities on Binh Ba range from sunbathing on the beach, boating along the shore, hiking on the trails, and snorkeling around the coral reefs. Visitors to the island can easily switch between urbanized destinations and untouched landscapes.
Beaches in Binh Ba
There are 7 beaches on the coast of Binh Ba Island, however, only 3 of them are open to tourists. Named Nha Cu, Nom, and Chuong Beach, these tropical spots are perfect places for tourists to relax. The white, sugar-fine sand is soft to the touch and free from pollution. Frequently lined by coconut trees and local vegetation, tourists can set up a spot in the sun or shade.
A few of the beaches have rocky features that jut out from the water, but others have nothing but smooth sand. Being tourist destinations, all the accessible beaches in Binh Ba will have hotels and restaurants nearby. Travelers can even find a few spots where lounge chairs are available to rent by the day. Along the beach, the waves are commonly calm as they gently lap against the shore.
The shallow water is crystal clear and has plenty of visibility, which makes it very safe for tourists traveling with their children.
Boating Around Binh Ba
While boats are mostly used as transportation around Binh Ba Island, tourists can use them for leisurely activities. Guests can book half or full-day excursions, just keep in mind that docking onshore isn’t always allowed due to military restrictions. Most boat tours don’t include very much in their package, so tourists should prepare to pack their own snacks for the trip.
Besides taking visitors around the island, local guides can also lead tourists to some of the best diving spots, as most of the area’s reefs are located just offshore in deeper water.
Hiking in Binh Ba
In a few places on Binh Ba, tourists are allowed to hike. Trails will be clearly marked to ensure that tourists don’t stumble into a restricted area. Most trails have easy to medium levels of difficulty, and without much elevation to gain, the trails tend to avoid overly strenuous routes. Some of the most beautiful hiking paths on Binh Ba Island go along the rocky shore and to the summit of small hills.
Snorkeling the Coral Reefs
Beneath the waves of Binh Ba Island is an aquatic masterpiece. Coral reefs surround the island and are home to a plethora of marine life. Open to snorkelers, tourists can hire a boat to take them to the various reefs around the island. One of the best in the area sits just off of Nha Cu Beach. With crystal clear water, visitors will have an amazing view of these unique marine habitats.
The best time to see the reefs is during low tide. When the water is further out, visitors won’t have to dive to view the colorful corals and fish. Instead, low tide gives visitors the opportunity to leisurely explore the reefs. Needing only a snorkel, goggles, and life vest, visitors can simply float along the surface of the water and observe life on the reef.
For visitors who would prefer to stay on dry land, the best way to tour the entire island is by renting a motorbike. Rentals on Binh Ba Island are affordable and travelers can negotiate to use the bikes for half for full-day trips. Roads tend to be rather twisty and a few will take visitors up the hills to designated viewpoints.
Great for transportation, visitors can also take motorbikes through the commune to explore the local markets and restaurants.
Fishing Village Tour
One part of the commune is dedicated to a fishing village. Relying on the clear blue sea to catch fresh seafood, the locals turn their daily catches into delicious meals. Commonly fished on Binh Ba Island are lobsters, shrimp, sea snails, sea cucumbers, oysters, squid, and abalone. At the fishing village, tourists can learn more about the traditional ways people catch the different animals.
Locals will also happily cook a meal using fresh-caught seafood or tourists can ask to borrow kitchen utensils to cook their own food on the beach.
Tourism is growing on Binh Ba Island, but the expansion of the island’s infrastructure is slow and there still aren’t many places to stay. The most common accommodation options in Binh Ba are locally-run hostels and homestays. Providing basic amenities and clean rooms, travelers will find that most options have very affordable rates and friendly staff.
Located on beach fronts and quiet streets within the commune, travelers who plan to stay overnight are encouraged to book their accommodation in advance. Some of the best places to stay on Binh Ba Island are the Mr. Bay Ho Hostel, Co Lan Hotel, Blue Sea Guesthouse, My Tram Hostel, Tu Khanh Hostel, and the Sister Tuyen Hotel.
For being a small island, it may come as a surprise that there are plenty of restaurants for tourists. Outnumbering the hotels, travelers in Binh Ba will find themselves presented with a list of dining establishments. Mostly small and local, a few do provide a luxurious dining experience to their guests.
One of the most unique dining experiences is a meal at a floating restaurant. Set on a platform over the water, nothing compares to a delicious meal with a view. For a wonderful dining experience, the best places to eat on Binh Ba Island are Nha Be Huong Bien, Du Hi Binh Ba, Nha Be Let’s Fly Travel, Nha Be My Le, Nha Be Ngoc Sang, and Nha hang My Tram.
Even though Binh Ba is a small island, tourist attractions tend to be either really close together or spread out. Travelers who are sticking to the commune and its beaches won’t have any issue walking to each destination. For those who want to venture to quieter parts of the island, alternative transportation is highly recommended.
Motorbike rentals are particularly popular in Binh Ba because they give travelers the freedom to tour on their own. However, not everyone is comfortable driving themselves. Local taxis are also common in Binh Ba and they can take travelers to some of the beaches that are outside of the commune. Boats can also be used for transportation to take tourists to the island’s beaches and coral reefs.
Being an island, travelers heading to Binh Ba will need to pay attention to the weather. Rough seas during the wet season can make boat travel miserable while rain showers will ruin your day at the beach. Unlike on the mainland, the weather in Binh Ba is always hot and humid even during the dry season, rain isn’t as common.
Allowing guests to enjoy their itineraries without worry as well as having the calmest seas for boating, swimming, and snorkeling, March to September is the peak time for tourists to visit.
Address: Cam Binh Island, Cam Ranh, Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam
Season: Year-round | Best during the dry season
Hours: 24 hours