The Con Dao Islands are comprised of several islets along with 16 islands. You can find the archipelago just 45 minutes from Ho Chi Minh City in the South China Sea. Garnering rising attention as a quiet sun destination in South East Asia, Con Dao and surrounding islands, such as the largest one, called Con Son, offer sweeping bays, ripe coral reefs, and plenty of expansive beaches. Wildlife tours are popular (native fauna teems throughout the mountains and thick jungle) along with diving, hiking, and exploring the backdrop, just some of the things available for fun when not tied up relaxing.
Used as a prison camp twice over, once by the French and again by the South Vietnamese, Con Dao’s grim past is now long behind it, painted over with peaceful landscapes and plenty of quiet. Despite a designation as a National Nature Reserve in 1984 and as a National Park in 1993, the Con Dao archipelago remains largely untouched by tourism. Divers and snorkelers maintain a particular interest in the islands, thanks in part to the area's national park status. Vietnam expanded the park’s protective laws far out into the surrounding sea, sustaining the rich and diverse reefs and underwater life. Visitors will find only one or two dive shops open for tours.
From March through June is the most highly recommended time to visit the Con Dao Islands. The sea is at its calmest, creating prime conditions for swimming and snorkeling. When visitors aren't soaking it all up on the Con Dao beaches, many of which are found in beautiful bays, they can head out for a half or full day of reef diving. The rare dugong, a species in the manatee family, can be spotted in the area, and May to September is sea turtle nesting season. The best Vietnam beaches at Con Dao include Phi Yen, Dam Trau, and Hang Duong, rivaling popular Phu Quoc Island beaches minus crowds. There are just a handful of mid-range places to stay including Con Dao Resort, the largest.