Vietnam might live in the shadow of Bali when it comes to surfing, but a long coastline of over 3,000 kilometres right in the middle of Southeast Asia surely can't be without its own swells, right? Damn right! From Nha Trang to buzzing Da Nang, pretty Hoi An beach and beyond, there are plenty of places to wax up the board and hit the rollers in Vietnam. Here are just seven of the best…
China Beach, Da Nang
Anyone who's seen Apocalypse Now will know that surfing in Vietnam first started on China Beach, for it's here, along the edge of busting Da Nang city, that American GIs first hit the rollers a la The Duke of Hawaii. Fast forward a couple of decades and the local Vietnamese have taken to the art like ducks to water. There are surfboard rentals peppering the place (expect to pay around just 5 USD for an hour!), and rarely does a roller go without a rider along the long stretch of sand that's on offer. What's more, because it's an urban beach, this one has oodles of beer bars and eateries to kick-back in after the ride. Just imagine it: A cold brew and a sizzling plate of peanut sate to rejuvenate those energy levels. Mmmm.
Cue Dai Beach, Hoi An
Leading on nicely from Da Nang's main beach, which sits just a little to the north of Cue Dai, this long and powdery stretch of sand is also home to its own regular swells. For most of the main season, the place is actually more popular with sunbathers and swimmers, while you'll likely be able to spot the occasional bodyboarder nailing barrel rolls in the waves. When the proper, rideable waters come to town though, the steep drop-ins here are enough to dwarf those at China Beach. Expect the occasional tube ride and some pretty hefty left-to-righters, all crashing close to the charming UNESCO-attested centre of Hoi An itself.
Mui Ne, Ham Tien
Mui Ne might not be one for the shortboard, thanks mainly to the frothy swells that crash against the sands of the city beach and the blustery onshore weather that comes with them. However, for windsurfers and kitesurfers, this pretty resort town midway between Ho Chi Minh City and party-mad Nha Trang is like hallowed ground. Just take a stroll along the powdery yellow beach and you'll see oodles of rental places touting flapping sails and foamies. These are at their peak between December and January, when the cross-bay gusts are just perfect for hitting the swells and riding the winds. Oh, and once you're done on the beach, be sure to make for the red-hued dunes nearby, where you can do a bit of sand surfing to tail things off.
Nha Trang Beach, Nha Trang
While the main beach in Nha Trang is perhaps better known as the site of cool cocktail bars and throbbing pub crawls that last well into the night, it's also got a good set of onshore breaks of its own. However, it's likely that you'll hardly see a surfer here for the whole stay – a fact that's largely due to the absence of any real surf school or rental place, and that Nha Trang's swells are mainly wind-driven. That makes it a great place for some bodyboarding, or for tumbling around in the head-high swells, even if it's never going to be Oahu.
Back Beach, Vung Tau
Hailed by many as the best surfing spot in all of Vietnam, the long and salt-washed stretch of golden sand that is Back Beach can be found poking out of the very end of Indochina, just where the sprawling megalopolis of Ho Chi Minh city gives way to the Mekong Delta. It's a pretty place, with oodles of shacks touting board rentals lining up along the shore. The swells roll in from morning until night off the South China Sea, offering a series of eminently rideable beach breaks that resemble the left-right rollers or Biarritz when they're in full swing. You'll likely be in the company of just a few expats from Europe, and always bear in mind that November can bring some pretty challenging onshore gusts.
Nam O, Da Nang
The second Vietnamese surfing spot to hail in from the city of Da Nang on the exposed central coast, Nam O is a lot more hidden that its popular counterpart on China Beach. For this one, you'll need to head out of the city to the north and scour the shore right by where the highways converge for the city of Hue. It's there that this untrodden and challenging point break can been seen crashing against a small strip of sand. It's next to the mouth of a river, and has strong north-easterly winds bolstering its power for most of the year. Always beware of the dangers around this wild spot – there's usually no one else around, and the tubes can get strong to say the least!
Non Nuoc, Hoi An/Da Nang
Non Nuoc sits nestled neatly and conveniently between the bustling city of Da Nang and the charming colonial centre of Hoi An. It's actually part of the same stretch of continuous sand that is aforementioned China Beach, but the breaks have a slightly shallower, petering character here that means they draw a different sort of rider. There are just a few small hotels that spill out onto the sand (offering the possibility of on-site board rental), while the lurching Marble Mountains tower in the background – adding real drama to the scenery.
Are you a veteran wave rider who's conquered the swells of Indochina? Can you think of any more gnarly rollers awaiting along the lengthy coast of Vietnam? We'd love to hear about them in the comments below. Or, if the spots above have got you pining for a trip to the beaches of Hoi An and Da Nang, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City, then be sure to check out LBW's trips to Vietnam. (Oh, and don't forget to pack the wax!)
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