Finally found what I've been looking for

September, 09/2022 - 09:04
I’ve looked far and wide, both in person and online, trying without any success to come across a beach that matches up with the likes of Seven Mile in the Cayman Islands where I was once fortunate enough to call home.
After five years, I've finally found what I've been looking for. VNS Photos Paul Kennedy.

Paul Kennedy

Just like Richard, the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2000 movie adaption of Alex Garlands' novel, The Beach, I too have been searching for that solitary piece of sun-kissed coastline ever since moving to Việt Nam five years ago.

Having lived in the Caribbean for seven years before relocating to Asia, my expectations have been high, to say the least, probably unfairly so.

I’ve looked far and wide, both in person and online, trying without any success to come across a beach that matches up with the likes of Seven Mile in the Cayman Islands where I was once fortunate enough to call home.

My search was proving fruitless until I finally discovered Bãi Dài in Cam Ranh, about 40km south of Nha Trang.

I flew to Nha Trang with Vietjet, taking advantage of their current excellent offers (VNĐ1,800,000 return from Hà Nội) and stayed at the incredibly inexpensive five-star Mường Thanh Luxury Viễn Triều Hotel, where a fabulous room including breakfast costs around VNĐ600,000 per night.

It is worth noting this rate was achieved by booking through Agoda.com and not directly with the hotel.

It's worth setting your alarm early to catch the sunrise.

Waking early on my first morning in the city, I ventured to the nearest beach to catch the sunrise. And while the break of dawn was effortlessly stunning, this particular stretch of sand close to the hotel was somewhat dirty and strewn with cigarette butts and plastic bottles, and while the water itself was pleasant enough, it was hardly what I would call crystal clear.

The further south you get along the Nha Trang coastline, the beach does improve greatly, however still nowhere near on par with what I was searching for.

On the advice of an expat who lived in the area, I decided to expand my search parameters, and for this I needed wheels.

Moto4Free motorbike rentals aren’t exactly free as the name suggests, but for just VNĐ150,000 per day, they hardly dented my wallet.

Not only did they provide a high-quality 2019 Yamaha NVX 125cc, but also offered advice about places to visit in the surrounding areas.

A motorbike is a must if you want to explore the area. Moto4Free offers great deals.

So helmet in hand, I was ready to the off and headed south following the coastline occasionally checking Google maps.

At first, when I arrived in Cam Ranh I genuinely thought I’d taken a wrong turn. This particular stretch of road has an almost Dubai-style feel to it. Like a created resort built from scratch. Yes, there were plenty of excellent hotels and many under construction, but it was bereft of anything else really, like shops, or local bars and restaurants.

However, that wasn’t the purpose of my journey, and after arriving at what my phone insisted was Bãi Dài, I parked up and headed to the beach.

I needed to navigate a construction site to get to the sands, and there sure is an awful lot of building work going on in this particular area.

But after a short walk around some unfinished villas, I finally found my very own personal paradise. It was what I’d been searching for the past five years, and at long last, I was standing on a perfect beach.

I was alone, not another human in sight, and couldn’t resist jumping into the seductive blue sea that softly caressed the white sands in front of me.

I could have stayed there for the day, but, as usual, I was ill-prepared and when I say there was nothing around other than a few hotels, I mean nothing.

I finally dragged myself out of the ocean and back on the road, in search of civilization. I didn’t have far to look.

Just a few kilometres back in the direction of Nha Trang, I stumbled on a hidden away hive, packed with local restaurants and bars, all on the beach in a place called Cam Lâm.

Sandy Shores beach bar in Cam Lâm.

I opted for a bar called Sandy Shores, perfectly shaded to stay out of the beating sun, but still just a few small steps from the inviting ocean.

The bar wasn’t busy, in fact, the whole stretch of sand with shanty-style shops and restaurants was pretty quiet, fitting my purpose perfectly.

There was a jet-ski stall, but I wasn't in the mood for anything energetic. Instead, I was more than happy to drink a few cold beers and spend the afternoon in and out of the water.

So after five years of searching, I'd finally found beaches that live up to my lofty levels. It's taken a while, but the wait was worth it. Life really can be a real beach sometimes. - VNS

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