Monkey Island of Cat Ba: Vietnam’s hidden charm

Cat Ba Monkey Island a.k.a Cat Dua Island is a new stop for nature lovers exploring Northern Vietnam in recent years. The charm of this island lies in its pristine nature and beautiful scenery. Currently, this island is still pretty much intact as it stays untouched by humans and travellers. If you visit Cat Ba, Monkey Island is definitely worth a visit.

I. How to get there?

Monkey Island is nearly 2 km from Cat Ba town center. To reach this island, travellers can come to Cai Beo Port and rent a kayak. From here, you can sail for about 10 minutes through Cai Beo floating village and some small islands to arrive at Monkey Island of Cat Ba

There are plenty of locals and tourists so there is no concern about safety. The opportunity to row by yourself along with other people will be so impressive and memorable. 

II. Why Monkey Island of Cat Ba? 

Monkey Island was once called Cát Dứa Island as there was shade of wild pineapple trees everywhere on the island. (Dứa in Vietnamese means pineapple.) However, the locals couldn’t eat pineapples at that time. They soaked the pineapples in cold water or dried them as a folk remedy to cure diabetes. 

Later, the locals also called Cát Dứa Island as Monkey Island of Cat Ba because of the large number of monkeys inhabiting this island. Most of them were brought to the island by forest rangers. The monkeys are really bold and friendly to tourists. Shy tourists might feel startled at first while uncareful travellers might get teased and robbed by these naughty animals. Regardless of their bad habits, the monkeys on Cat Ba Monkey Island always succeed in earning favor from visitors, especially children. The playful monkeys even like to join in (or… disturb) some beach sports with humans.

III. What to do in Monkey Island of Cat Ba?

Visiting Cai Beo floating village

On the way to Cat Ba Monkey Island, you can stop by Cai Beo fishing village. The locals here are very nice and friendly. They do not take advantage of tourists so don’t worry about that. This is a precious opportunity to learn about the aquaculture of Vietnam from the experienced fishermen. You can see with your own eyes how fish are raised in the cages and witness the daily life on water of the villagers. 

Life does not make it easy for them, but they are all optimistic and resilient. 

Swimming and sunbathing

There are 2 different arc-shaped beaches in Cat Ba Monkey Island: Cat Dua 1 and Cat Dua 2. They are about 1 km long. The white sand is formed by the coral pieces, adding the memorable beauty and pleasant to Monkey Island beaches. 

In terms of length, Cat Dua 1 is a bit longer as it is where a military station is based. The water is crystally blue and the sand is pleasantly smooth. It is not too crowded as the access to Cat Ba Monkey Island is still limited. All of these makes this an ideal beach to swim and sunbathe in Cat Ba. There is a resort on Monkey Island providing table and chair sets with leafy umbrellas to avoid the sun. There are some available services such as food and drinks, ice-cream and swimsuits/ lifeboats/ kayaks for rent. 

Cat Dua 2 is right next to Cat Dua 1, but you have to walk past a tiger-shaped ridge separating the 2 beaches. What is special about Cat Dua 2 is the garden of hundreds-square meters nearby. There are so many trees inside including wild pineapple tree, white apple tree, banyan and heliotropium foertherianum. This is home to many species of birds. You can lay down on the white sand and sunbathe while enjoying natural melodies from the birds.

Mountain climbing 

If you are the explorer type of traveler, you can cross the wild pineapple garden and climb up to the top of the mountain. From here, you will have a panoramic view of the entire Lan Ha Bay with hundreds of islands of all sizes. And if you pick the perfect location, you might even see Halong Bay UNESCO Heritage site. Noone would want to miss the experience of seeing hundreds of large and small green islands in the crystal blue sea water from above. That is for sure.