Cua Lo is one of the most popular holiday spots for people living in and around Hanoi. But just to its north there's an area which is quite spectacular.
North of Cua Lo
From Hanoi, I take the 6am train to arrive in Vinh at midday. I want to rent a motorbike there to travel up the coast in search of a little gem. As it turns out, it’s difficult to rent a motorbike in Vinh, but thankfully through some friendly connections I am able to sort something out. People are amazingly helpful.
Less than an hour into the journey and I get a flat tyre. It’s nap time and there’s no repair shop in sight. The owners of a seafood restaurant offer to help. The normally quick fix takes two hours, and when I am finally back on the road I have a couple hours before sunset. It’s after 4.30pm and I start a race with the decreasing light to find my own little piece of undiscovered coast.
14km northeast of Vinh is Cua Lo, a small town with a busy 10km stretch of beach. Hotels and beach-gear shops sit on my left, while seafood restaurants and cafes line up along the sand on my right.
I head up north towards Bai Lu Resort, I have a good feeling about this place; the road is small and not always paved, a good omen to me. I cross an estuary and a fishing village. I wish I had more time to explore. It’s a gorgeous ride in the late afternoon light where everything gets this golden tint. A light breeze lightens up the heavy, hot air; I can smell the sea, the pine trees and the countryside life. I drive through a horde of dragonflies, their wings reflecting in the light.
Just before the resort, the road finally follows the coast, and there it is, a little beach in a little cove with rocks on both sides. Bordered by pine trees, fishing boats lie moored on the sand. Some people are in the water. Dogs bark the arrival of a newcomer and children walk up to me to say hello. There are two little cafés on the side and the beach has no name on Google Maps. Perfect.
Even though the sunset is on the other side of the hill, the light is gorgeous and I am in awe at the pastel colors in the sky and the deep dark rocks on the golden sand. I take photos, I sit down in the sand, I write, I relax. As the beach is facing east, I will get up extra early for some sunrise photos.
Waking up at 4am is hard but it is worth every yawn. I should remember to do that more often; spending the first couple hours of your day in the quiet splendor of a fast changing sky really sets up the day. The tide is low, a few people are coming out of the trees to sit on the beach to enjoy the sunrise. A woman picks up wood, a fisherman is already at work in the water; life has started.
I drive back towards the resort and then push on to another beach behind the hill: Bai Tam Cua Hien. There I find some seafood restaurants and lots of people at work picking up shellfish. The scenery makes me think of my mother who I was with just a few days earlier. We were on another beach in another country picking up cockles and mussels, just like these women. Just, it was not that early in the morning. — Julie Vola
To see more articles in this story, please click on the links below:
The Undiscovered Coast
Undiscovered Binh Thuan
The Paradise of Ninh Thuan
The Wildness of Con Dao
The Rocks of Phu Yen
The Beaches Around Quy Nhon
The Abandoned Church
The Other Side of Halong Bay
North of Cua Lo
The Islands off Phu Quoc
Where The Mekong Hits the Sea