Worth a Trip: Vung Ro Bay

A spectacular natural harbour ringed by forested peaks, Vung Ro Bay is a remote, wildly beautiful lagoon-like expanse of turquoise water 25km south of Tuy Hoa. It's celebrated as Vietnam’s most easterly point on the mainland.

A crooked finger of land protects the bay from the worst South China Sea (East Sea) storms, allowing a floating village and fish farms to flourish in its sheltered waters. On the northeast side of Vung Ro, the coastal road passes an exquisite undeveloped sandy cove, Bai Mon, the perfect spot for a swim. From this beach a steep path leads up to a 19th-century lighthouse, built by the French, from where there are ocean vistas of the Vung Ro coastline.

This part of Vietnam hit the headlines back in February 1965 when a US helicopter detected the movement of a North Vietnamese supply ship in the area. Vung Ro was part of the alternative Ho Chi Minh Sea Trail and was being used to smuggle arms into South Vietnam for Viet Cong forces. The discovery of a sea supply route from north to south confirmed US suspicions and was used as justification to ramp up US involvement in the war.

Today the isolation and raw beauty of the Vung Ro coast is under threat by a plan for a giant oil refinery and billion-dollar resort complex and marina. This development project was proposed years ago, but at the time of research no construction work had yet started.