Diving Phu Quoc

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Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Phu QuocVietnam

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Country: Vietnam  Area: Vietnam

Water Temp: 28 - 31°C (82 - 88°F)

Visibility: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 30m (16 - 98 ft)

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The largest of the Vietnamese islands, Phu Quoc is located 45km west of Vietnam and 15 km south of the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. The main town on Phu Quoc is Duong Dong, and it is situated on the western side of the island. The island is covered in a dense jungle, most of which falls within the National Park. Beautiful beaches, both popular and busy to the more remote and secluded, surround the coast line.

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Tourism on the island is burgeoning and despite the brand  new airport, isn’t yet over developed. With its basic and newly cut paths, the National Park provides a place to explore inland and the tropical marine life provide a mesmeric world to explore below the surface. Phu Quoc is well known for its pepper and fish sauce, and there will be plenty of opportunity for you to try these on the island.

 

Climate

Phu Quoc is a tropical island and as such has weather systems to match. The monsoon season runs from July to early October and is not a good time to dive. Day time temperatures during monsoon season are about 31 degrees. High season is November to March. The weather is at its best, sunny with little cloud cover, with daily temperatures of 30 degrees. Between April and June temperatures can reach 35 degrees and there can be sporadic rainfall. Water temperature is at its lowest in January at about 27 degrees and highest in the months of April, May and June, at 30 degrees.

Marine Conservation

The islets of the south are now protected in a marine park and there is an on going attempt for this to cover more of the island’s marine areas.

 

 
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The Diving

The main dive sites on Phu Quoc are in the north west and off the southern tip at An Thois, where there is a collection of 15 smaller islets. The nutrient rich water of the Mekong Delta sustains the very healthy coral system that surrounds Phu Quoc and its abundant marine life.

Diving in the north west is great for beginners and those who want to snorkel as the waters are calm, clear and sheltered. Here divers can peruse the broad variety of colourful hard and soft corals, anemones, nudibranch and tropical fish such as damselfish and pufferfish. If you’re lucky you might even spot a bamboo shark. There are some areas of interesting topography with large rocks creating nooks to explore as well as more open sandy bottomed areas.


The islets off An Thois offer excellent diving for intermediate and experienced divers. Depths range from 20m, where coral gardens that team with life, slope down into the depths and a 60m strait between An Thois and one of the first islets. Generally water depths around this site are about 40m. The topographical diversity of the islets offers a more challenging dive and an opportunity to see a larger variety of marine life. Amongst the thriving coral reef and its macro marine life, divers could see angel fish, cuttle fish, banded sea snakes and large whip corals. Some of the islets are quite exposed and subject to sudden changes in current so an AOW certificate is recommended for sites such as Pineapple Islet.

There is also broad areas of sea grass around the southern parts of Phu Quoc which is home to the the rare Dugong, another wonderful animal to keep an eye out for.

Most dive operators are situated in Duong Dong. There is a variety of trip options, with some shops offering equipment hire. You can find half day, full day and multi day trips available and most operators include pick up and drop off to and from your hotel, refreshments, water and lunch. There are PADI courses as well as courses to improve your level of diving. Most diving takes place off boats.

It is important to note that not all dive operators on Phu Quoc are PADI certified and some may not have a very eco friendly practice.

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Getting there

The best way to get to Phu Quoc is by air. Frequent flights leave daily from Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and is about a 50 minute flight. Flights arrive at Phu Quoc International Airport, which is 10 km from the main town of Duong Dong.

Some resorts provide transportation from the airport back to the hotel/resort. If this isn’t the case, there are various transport options at the airport from bus, taxi and motorbike taxi. Once on the island, local travel is by boat, bus, hired motorbike or motorbike taxi.

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Going Out

Long beach, a 5 mile stretch of beach on the western side of the island, is where you’ll find most of the resorts and restaurants. The resort restaurants on the island generally serve traditional Vietnamese or Indo-Asian food as well as international/European food. Besides these, there are restaurants, cafes and delis in the towns and villages and on the beaches that serve, among other things, Vietnamese, Mediterranean, American, Russian and Pilipino food.

As you’re on an island, fresh seafood will be abundant and along with the local fish sauce, probably delicious and worth having. There aren't many night clubs on the island, but there are a few bars in towns, resorts and beaches.

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Activities

There are plenty of other activities to partake in on Phu Quoc besides diving. The local markets are well worth a visit. Busy and bustling, they are full of familiar and unfamiliar foods and smells. If its adventure you seek, motorbike is a great way to explore Phu Quoc and its vastly undeveloped countryside. The northern and eastern parts of the island are peppered with villages and remote beaches. Take the red dirt track roads that wind through the jungle and explore these areas at your own pace. The National Park has a few walking trails, but the jungle is very dense and it is advised you let someone know if you go walking alone. Pearls are also farmed around the island and there are various farm shops you can visit. Other activities to partake in include water sports, fishing tours (including night fishing) island tours, squid fishing and hiring your own boat for your own adventures.

Family Friendly

Most of the resorts are family friendly and the majority of the islands activities are accessible to children. Plenty of swimming, snorkelling and exploring to be done. The markets and Duong Dong night market would make for an interesting place for some children and a family cooking lesson would be great way to experience the flavours of the island.

It would be worth considering however, that unless you’re planning on staying on the resort many parts of the island are quite remote with basic amenities. A sense of adventure is probably essential.


Elephant Trekking & Abuse

On a general note, while in Asia, please do not support Elephant abuse by riding Elephants or supporting Elephant performance.

In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive to humans.
Asian Elephant spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them. 
Any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means they have undergone horrific abuse in order to get them to where they are
Please do not support Elephant torture and make your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry.
  • The 'training' Elephants go through to become a part of the tourism industry involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time starting as a calf
  • Asian Elephant's spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
  • That said, there is responsible Elephant tourism to be found in Asia, a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them.
  • Remember; any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings it basically means the Elephants have undergone horrific abuse in order to get there

You can help these magnificent animals by making your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry; the main problem is a lack of awareness.

Dive Report is committed to raising awareness to the abuse suffered by Elephants used in the tourist industry. If you want to know more you can find out more hereherehere and here. Also see a PETA documentary video here.

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Tips!

It is advised that flights and accommodation are booked well in advance as this popular destination gets booked up very quickly - this goes for backpackers too.

During October, as the monsoons fall, many resorts and hotels do their annual maintenance. It is therefore advisable to check with you accommodation providers if this will effect your stay if you plan to be in Phu Quoc during October. Going to Phu Quoc between the months of April and June can be cheaper and quieter. However, it will be very hot and a little rainy, perhaps not the best.

When using taxis, check if the driver uses a meter. If the meter is broken, opt for a different taxi. If the driver doesn’t have a meter, it can be possible to bargain with them.

Always ask for permission to take photographs of islanders and it is recommended that you don’t take video recordings in villages as it is considered to be very invasive.

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