Lost Paradise Found at Jungle Beach
Ninh Phuoc Travel Blog› entry 78 of 94 › view all entries
Just past Ninh Hoa, a huge sign reading 'Hyundai Vinashin ' marked a road to the east. About two miles along that quiet country road, we stopped in the shade of a big tree to sip cans of cold Tiger Beer which one of the expats had carried. The sun was hot and surrounding straw-colored pastures barren and deserted. Rock outcrops glistened silvery off green nearby hills.
After about ten kilometers, we reached the shoreline of Van Phong Bay. Just past a small lighthouse, the pavement ended at the massive Hyundai Vinashin Shipyard. Ocean-going mega-ships were dwarfed by towering cranes while they underwent renovations or repairs in dry dock.
Sylvio LaMarche greeted us as we entered the gate and his Vietnamese wife, Loan, offered refreshing glasses of lemon juice. The former long-haired Canadian backpacker discovered this three-kilometer stretch of secluded beach while camping on a kayak trip more than a decade ago. He eventually bought 3¼ acres with "a duffle bag full of money" and created the most unique beach resort in Vietnam.
Homestay might be a more apt description. Their standard Vietnamese house has an expanded roof extension to serve as the reception lobby, bar, lounge, library, and communal dining room. Twenty guests filled a long table enjoying their lunchtime meal as we entered. Accommodation rates include all meals, drinking water, coffee, tea, lemon juice, and assorted fruit. We had called ahead to let them know how many extra mouths to feed. Our meal included several types of fish, pork, rice, salad, and fruit. Beer was extra.
After lunch, Sylvio gave us a quick tour of the property. Two bedrooms in the house were available, and three more in the outside Long House, but the most popular accommodations were the nine bamboo shelters scattered randomly amid lush and tropical beachfront landscaping.
There wasn't a sole in sight on the three-kilometer white sand beach and the only sounds came from lapping turquoise waters of the South China Sea. Bamboo matting in wooden frames propped quiet shade for laid-back travelers. Others, more energetic, trekked the jungle-covered hills just inland. Three types of eagle, many smaller birds, butterflies, lemurs, and rare Black-shanked Douc Langur monkeys are all possible sightings. Sylvio records sightings and movements of the langurs for the Frankfurt Zoological Society's Primate Conservation Program in Vietnam. Also, a primate biologist from Danang University lives at Jungle Beach full-time to study the monkeys. Our own three-hour stay at Jungle Beach was far too short. It is one of those rare places to truly get away from it all and brought back the look and feel of SE Asian islands of decades past. I'll be back.