Vietnam is definitely not the place where mass tourists come to lay on the beach, therefore, there are still many unknown Vietnam island to tourists. Some of them are near Nha Trang and I couldn’t stop visiting once I found out about them.
The first Vietnam island I have visited near Nha Trang was Hon Noi or Dao Yen or Yen Sao, or so many names that I don’t know which one is more appropriate. To find it on the map you can search for Hon Noi but I don’t think this is the most common name among Vietnamese. Anyway, this is s very unknown paradise and the most beautiful Vietnam island I have seen so far. I found Con Dao island very beautiful but it is a very different experience.
To visit this place you must join a tour. There is only one boat departing from Nha Trang to Hon Noi island per day and sleeping at the island isn’t allowed. For this reason, there are only 100 people that can visit this island per day. That’s the people they can fit on the boat.
The only boat to Hon Noi departs from Nha Trang Port at 7.30 am and reaches this Vietnam island at around 9 am. The price of this tour is about 20€ (400K Dongs) and it includes a boat ride both ways, a breakfast that consists of a sandwich and the special drink of the island, and lunch at the island.
Bird’s nest drink
The name Yen Sao you will only hear from Vietnameses mouths because this is related to the special drink that comes from this island. The name behind this drink is Sanest. This drink is so special because it is made of one of the most expensive foods of animal origin: bird’s nests. These birds’ nests are very peculiar because they are made with the animal’s own saliva. This delicacy is very expensive and eaten in many different ways, therefore, a drink in its homage is acceptable. I have never tried this drink before and actually didn’t know about its existence. Its taste is not very strong and it’s not similar to something I can describe. You can feel some chewy parts as you drink it and I suppose that are some nests leftovers… not sure.
Near Hon Noi is another special island called Hòn Ngoại. This is where this specific bird lives and it’s where there are caves where the bird builds its saliva nest that is harvested by man. The birds are flying all around the island and have a different chirp from what I have heard before. I think I have never heard or seen that bird in my life. The bird’s island is basically a rock not far from Hon Noi. I could have visited it during this tour to Vietnam island but there was no other foreigner besides me on the boat and no one talked in English. I think they might have informed about this tour to the island but as I don’t understand Vietnamese I had no clue.
Ticket from Nha Trang to Hon Noi
I bought the ticket from Nha Trang to Hon Noi at Nha Trang Port the same day about 30 minutes before. I don’t think there are many people doing it as the ticket sellers looked very surprised and needed to speak to someone before selling me the ticket. The port is a mess with lots of people and many boats. I headed to Cảng Yen Sào to buy the ticket and then the lady helped me and showed me the way to the right place where to wait for the boat.
Before boarding, we need to walk through a liquid that I think it’s to sanitize our shoes before stepping on the island. On board, there were only Vietnamese and a group of Russian tourists with their own guide. I think you probably can buy a tour somewhere at a tour operator with a more expensive price. The boat was half full, so the island felt very empty. Once we arrive at the island everyone gathers in a group and listens to some Vietnamese instructions. I have no idea what they are saying and decided to start exploring the island while everyone else stays seating in the shade. The island is surrounded by crystal clear waters and is beautiful. But, it turns amazingly beautiful as I go upstairs and am able to watch the beach from above. BEAUTIFUL. This island is so beautiful!!! It is connected to the island next door by a sand bar that separates two tones of water. On one side the water is blue and on the other it is green. The water is also cooler on one side than on the other one and you can clearly tell the difference. One side is cooler because it is directly connected to the ocean and the other isn’t anymore because of the sand bar. The waters around are vivid blue and amazing to look at. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the place. I was also not able to get rid of the bird’s sounds that were loud and constant.
What to do in Hon Noi
This Vietnam island is small and mainly rocky so there isn’t much to explore besides discovering new viewpoints. I went all the way to the very top where it stands a Buddhist temple. I was the only one doing so, so I could enjoy the view and sounds deeply. I can see the bird’s island from here and that was when I realized I could have visited cause I saw a boat departing towards there. I think that’s what they were saying in Vietnamese at the beginning and the reason why nobody else went upstairs at the same time as me. Perks of traveling non-touristy places…
I went down from the top by the other side of Hon Noi that also leads to majestic views. That’s what I did 80% of the time on this Vietnam island: stare at the water. The island won’t take long to explore so I did everything very slowly. I have also been to the temple on the other side of the beach called Đen Thờ Tổ Nghề Yen Sào but the views from there are not that great.
Everybody on that boat had lunch together at the only place where we could eat in Hon Noi. There is only this restaurant that serves the people that arrive on the only boat of the day. The food was delicious and diversified. It looked like a wedding buffet! it was a great meal.
The rest of the time I spent on the beach itself. There were some sunshades where we could seat and relax and also a swing. Some people were snorkeling and others diving with the help of an instructor. I guess they were learning…
The boat left this Vietnam island not much later than 2 pm. That was the only disappointing thing about this visit: I felt like we left too early as I could have stayed there for so much longer… Anyway, I have no choice but to turn back when it is demanded. I’m not sure if they would notice if I was missing… so maybe you can take some camping gear and give it a try, haha.
We are back in Nha Trang at about 4 pm. The day was too rewarding for me bothering not staying longer. This island remains very untouched and unknown and that’s why its beauty. A true paradise to relax.
Meet another unknown Vietnam island near Nha Trang: Diep Son
Here is a short video about this place: