A breathtaking cluster of granite islands, set in aquamarine seas around 15km directly offshore from Hoi An, the Cham Islands make a wonderful excursion. The islands were once closed to visitors and under close military supervision, but now day trips, diving or snorkelling the reefs, and even overnight stays, are possible.
A rich underwater environment features 135 species of soft and hard coral, and varied macrolife. The islands are officially protected as a marine park. Fishing and the collection of birds' nests (for soup) are the two key industries here.
There are plans afoot to develop the islands into something of a central Vietnam version of Phu Quoc, and coastal land has been confirmed for resort development.
When to Go
The serenity of the islands can be compromised – especially on weekends and Vietnamese holidays – by boatloads of tourists from the mainland, so plan your visit accordingly. It'll have to be between March and September, as the ocean is usually too rough at other times.