Snorkeling in Nha Trang, Vietnam

17 01 2017

Our destination after Saigon was the coastal town of Nha Trang. After the noise, congestion and pollution of chaotic Saigon everyone was looking forward to some quiet time by the sea. Well, we were completely unprepared for what a mega town it is. Nha Trang is far from a sleepy beach town! It’s got 35-story hotels and boasts a population of over 400,000! So much for the Margaritaville experience. More like Atlantic City New Jersey or something! Nevertheless, I was able to get some decent snorkeling in.

The week prior to our arrival it had rained hard. So hard that runoff turned the sea brown that week. I was concerned the water would be too cloudy for good snorkeling. More than water clarity, I’d heard that many reefs in Asia were damaged due to dynamite fishing. In some places, people are so poor they don’t use nets or lines. Instead they blow up everything and haul in whatever floats to the surface. By doing that, they destroy entire ecosystems. Years before I’d snorkeled in Bali and it was tragic. The coral was dead. Only a few fish to see. I feared the worst.

 

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Well, well! Took a chance and was rewarded!

 

Nonetheless, six of us booked a boat to go out beyond the bay to Moon Island. We all said to ourselves, “Even if the water’s cloudy, heck at least it’s a boat ride, right?” Well, much to our delight, the water was clear. And the reef? Healthy!

The boat, which was also equipped with scuba gear, took us to a secluded spot maybe 50 feet from shore. I donned the mask, snorkel, and did my customary snorkel/scuba back flip into the water. The water was beautiful. Warm. Pretty clear! And the corals were so close to the surface, one only needed to drift along to view.

I’d been to Belize in 2014 and learned how to free dive. That skill came in handy in Vietnam. You simply take a breath, turn completely vertical, and allow your weight to sink you down. Sometimes having a rock or two in hand takes you down faster. This way, when you arrive down some 15-20ft, you have not expended energy to get there. My tour-mates were all amazed to see me down that far. Once down, you have a maybe half a minute to swim amongst the wonder. I found I got so intrigued that, when I needed air, I was suddenly freaked that I had 20 ft to rise!

It was a good day. We were all delighted we’d taken the risk because it paid off. Not only had we taken in some good snorkeling. But we’d escaped the busy hum drum of the Nha Trang waterfront!