Banh Sua island, also known as Ong To island or Tu Hai island, is located in Bai Tu Long bay in Quang Ninh province. There are some interesting stories that explain the origin of these names. The island was named after Mr. Do Huu To, the man who opened a company with its headquater on Banh Sua Island. The company focused on developing the fisheries and raising geoduck in the conditions of Banh Sua Island. Due to the fact that this area is one of the most advantageous environments for raising geoduck in North Vietnam and geoduck is also its specialty, many people called it Tu Hai Island (“tu hai” means geoduck).
Banh Sua island is less than one km² wide, the widest place is only about 420m, and it looks like a small turtle in the vast sea. Therefore, this small island is often compared to the youngest brother in the 'big family' of hundreds of islands on Bai Tu Long bay.
The unique feature of Banh Sua island is that the space is always quiet and peaceful. Wandering on this vast oasis in the sea, you will be able to enjoy the clear blue water, swim freely around the island, and snorkel to see the colorful coral.
To explore this beautiful island, visitors have to wake up at 5am to go with the villagers to catch sea cucumbers when the tide is at its lowest. Barefoot on the fine sand, racing against the rising tide, those are the feelings of excitement that Banh Sua island can promise you for a joyful day. Or you can take a boat to Quan cave about 30 minutes from the island. This place was once used as a military base during the American sabotage war in the north of Vietnam.
There are beautiful stalactite columns of many shapes here too. When the sun shines brightly, and the boat stops at the fisherman's raft on the bay, tourists can buy their favorite seafood, take them back to Banh Sua island and ask the locals to cook it for lunch.
Boasting no long sandy beaches like other islands in Bai Tu Long bay, Banh Sua has an extremely clear sea instead. You can enjoy your swim in the cool water and see colorful coral. There have been many jobs on the island for mollusk farming and there are permanent home-stays too. In the afternoon, visitors should visit the pier connected to the oyster farming area, where they can swim and get oysters.
On the island, there is a rather high rocky mountain, which is an ideal place for visitors to admire the beautiful moments of sunrise and sunset or the breathtaking view of Bai Tu Long bay.
In the late afternoon, images of the blue Bai Tu Long bay appear in the gentle golden sunlight, or the burning red sun slowly sets behind the mountain range can leave everyone bedazzled. Being immersed in nature, the life of locals on the island is what visitors can experience on this lovely island. Just like the name of the island, Banh Sua, you can reward yourself with a genuine vacation to temporarily forget all the chaos and worries of daily life.
A panoramic view of Banh Sua island seen from above. (Photo: Vietnam Pictorial)
Banh Sua Island is like a little turtle swimming in an immense sea. From afar, tourists can immediately realize Banh Sua Island is covered by the green color of trees hustling on limestone cliffs. In spite of the small area, Banh Sua Island is the home of various marine creatures, some of which brings economic efficiency to the local residents.
Thanks to the calm water of an off-shore island, the sea of Banh Sua Island is a favorable condition for growing seafood, including oyster and geoduck. Not having long sand beaches or high-end resorts like many other islands, the atmosphere of Banh Sua Island is quite peaceful. The locals there live a simple life; they have a strong attachment to the sea, which has nourished them since their childhood.
Another significant trait of Banh Sua Island is the coral reefs around the island. Corals cannot exist in all kinds of water but only clear water with light waves and calm sea. Therefore, Banh Sua Island is one of the few places in Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay where tourists can contemplate colorful coral reefs as well as its underwater biodiversity.