Le Domaine de Tam Hai Resort is situated on a tiny island just over an hours drive from Hoi An. Looking out over a narrow river channel which protects the resort from rough weather, across the channel is the amazing East Vietnam Sea and approximately 60 kilometres of virtually pristine coastline reaching north to Hoi An.
Accessible only by boat, Tam Hai is located at the mouth of the Truong Giang River in Nui Thanh district. The island has an area of 15.03 km2 and a population of over 8,000 people living in 2,260 households within 7 villages. Only one side (the east) of the island faces the sea, the others face the river. Two small uninhabited islands surrounded by coral reef (Hong Manh and Hong Dua) lie just off the eastern coast. The island is approximately 5kms long and 2.5kms wide with two main roads. For the most part, the island is car-free, and the main occupation of the islanders is fishing.
Most of Vietnam is green and lush, picture-postcard pretty, but this little island—sheilded by the Truong Son mountain range—enjoys its own tropical micro-climate with little rainfall when compared to neighbouring Hoi An. The summer stretches from March all the way through to October.
Alongside the monsoon months of October through December, come the storms and the cooler temperatures, then from Christmas through March the days get warmer, drier and the sun returns to the island. The low humidity during this time makes these months perfect for long beach strolls and exploring the island’s villages.
The Best Time to Visit Tam Hai
For beach bums – April through September. For snorkeling the islands coral reefs, from May to August—which is also the islands most humid month. The wettest month – November. For solitude and escape – December through February provides the perfect backdrop to curl up with a good book.
Unlike the beaches of Hoi An, Tam Hai island has not yet succumbed to tourism – fishing remains the islands main trade. Therefore the island beaches are working beaches—fantastic for photos and watching daily life rather than lazing around under an umbrella.
Le Domaine de Tam Hai is located on a tidal river beach (pictured left), a ten-minute paddle in a kayak or two-minute speedboat transfer from an unspoiled beach situated on the mainland—a casuarina-lined beach with squeaky white sand dunes that gently shelve into an aquamarine sea.
Flora & Fauna
The entire island is famous locally for its towering coconut trees which provide a canopy of dappled shade on a hot day, the sweetest milk and a subsidiary income for the Islanders—making oil from the fruit and woven coir fabric from the husk surrounding the fallen nuts.
On the rugged northern coastline of the island where the river meets the sea instead of swaying coconut palms you’ll find Casuarina and cacti, and to the south—wetland shrimp farms surrounded by deep mangrove plantations. This wetland is a vital preserve for bird species, among them— egrets, heron, water hen and several species of kingfisher. The brackish waters also harbour an underwater bounty of shellfish including oysters, lobsters, red clawed crabs and over 60 different species of fish.
The eastern tip of the island is home to the islands most photographed and iconic landmark, the black coral cliffs of Ban Thanh. Eroded by time and nature an arch has formed on the beautiful secluded cove providing an azure window to watch the sunset.
Surrounding this Jurrasic spectacle is a huge coral reef—rarely visited as it is only accessible by boat. It’s home to a colourful and diverse population of tropical fish (and the occasional passing turtle) and makes for the perfect offshore spot to snorkel during the calm summer months.
In front of Ban Thanh are two small coral islands – Hon Mang and Hon Dua. Hon Dua is surrounded by rocky outcrops so it is difficult for boats to anchor. However boat trips to the smaller of the two, Hon Mang are possible throughout the summer when you can explore the island’s beach, climb the coral cliffs and snorkel from its shores. During weekdays and outside school holidays when it’s possible to have the whole island to yourselves we can drop guests off here and set-up a beach barbecue for guests.
*Boating and fishing are always entirely dependent on the tides, weather and resulting sea conditions that can fluctuate at the drop of a hat. Boat captain Mien says the best time to go is in the early morning, particularly if you are going to venture down to see birds throughout the mangroves. The evening from 4:30 p.m. to sunset is another lovely time to fish and bird watch. Snorkel trips can be arranged at any time of the day.
**Bring your catch back and we’ll prepare it any way you like—fried, grilled or some other recipe that you want to share.
Well-known for their friendly ways and for their intimate knowledge of earth, sky and sea are the fishermen and shrimp farmers (the main island trades). Alongside the islands villagers these gracious people head up the Tam Hai community and we share our space with them—at sunrise and sunset from your private villa garden you’ll be lured by the gentle chugging of boat engines and traditional fishing displays—then, throughout the day you’ll be entertained by visiting herds of gentle island cows who help trim our grass (and to our pool-man Mr Hanh’s fury, have upon occasion been known to take a dip in our pool).
Tam Hai Mural Village
On the eastern tip of the island, a short jaunt from the black cliffs of Ban Thanh lies Tam Hai Painted Village, a colourful art project where all the houses are painted in bright seaside colours with murals depicting each householders occupation. It’s incredibly photogenic and absolutely worthy setting in which to lose yourself down alleyways for an afternoon.