Snorkelling the Cham Islands Off the Coast of Hoi An

Snorkelling is one of the Hidden team’s favourite things to do in Hoi An. If you know where to look, there are great spots for snorkelling off the coast of Hoi An. It’s a convenient day trip, but surprisingly many people don’t realise that there are great places to go snorkelling near Hoi An.  

Snorkelling is great for families or those not keen on open water diving. While it’s always great to conquer fears, vacations are meant for relaxation. So, take advantage of the unique coral and thousands of fish to view with a memorable day of snorkelling. However, if you want to try something new and adventurous, take a look at our Cham Islands diving article as well! 

If you’re visiting Hoi An with a diving fanatic, you’re in luck there too. Divers and snorkellers visit the Cham Islands on the same boat. So there’s no need to split up your group of travellers. You can enjoy the peaceful boat ride to the Cham Islands together before your excursion. Then afterwards, eat an authentic Vietnamese lunch together and relax on the sandy beaches of the Cham Islands. Even if your family or friends have different interests in the water, you’ll spend most of your memorable day together. Tempted? Then carry on reading for Hidden’s in-depth guide to snorkelling the Cham Islands.

A Cham Islands snorkelling trip includes a stop at this beautiful beach. Photo: Kristen Wells

Snorkelling the Cham Islands

The Cham Islands are the most popular location for snorkelling near Hoi An. There are so many different locations offering a variety of vibrant, colourful reefs and fish to see. The local dive shops all offer snorkelling as an option on their day trips to the Cham Islands. Snorkelling is a popular option here as the ocean has small waves and light currents making for an enjoyable experience. 

A day of snorkelling is half the cost of scuba diving and doesn’t require any sort of certification. It’s also less tiring as you don’t have to adjust to various underwater pressures while exploring. Even if you do become tired from swimming along the surface and taking in the beautiful array of coral life, it’s much easier to swim to the boat and take a short break than it is while diving with all the equipment. 

A popular choice for most staying in Hoi An is to take a day trip out to the Cham Islands, starting at around 7:30 a.m. and ending near 5 p.m. However, there are also options for staying on the Cham Islands overnight.

When to Snorkel the Cham Islands

The Cham Island snorkelling and diving season does not last year-round. The best time for snorkelling trips is between March and September, with the best weather between June-August. Outside of these months, the weather can be rough with seasonal storms thrashing the coast and causing unsuitable diving and snorkelling conditions. When the weather closes in, boats can not make the crossing to the Cham Islands and your chances for snorkelling are extremely limited.

Hidden Hint: The majority of the dive shops actually close down from October through February due to these rougher weather conditions.  

Conical boats on a calm day at Cham Islands
Conical boats line the shore on a calm day

Hidden’s Experience Snorkelling with the Hoi An Diving Centre (Blue Coral Diving)

The snorkelling experience in Hoi An offers a one-of-a-kind view of underwater life, especially in comparison to other areas of Vietnam. However, the reefs are more stunning in Hoi An when snorkelling with a quality dive company.

We chose to do a day trip to the Cham Islands with the Hoi An Diving Centre (also known as Blue Coral Diving) based on their reputation for quality. This was obvious during our trip based on the equipment we used and the quality of the boat. Steve Reid, the founder of Hoi An Diving Centre, told us during high season they employ as many as 20 instructors at a time and can take out as many as 50 people on their ten-year-old boat. The ability of Hoi An Diving Centre to provide so many expert staff and divers not only proves their quality but also their desire for a safe, fun experience for all.

“Snorkeling is an easy activity for the whole family to experience underwater life, as well as the variety of macro life photography available while diving the Cham Islands.” – Steve Reid – founder of Hoi An Diving Centre 

Some snorkellers in other parts of the world say they feel as if they are second-class citizens compared to the divers, who get the majority of the attention from staff. Some companies and boats drop snorkellers off at the same place as divers, despite the lack of visibility or close range to beautiful coral for them to see. Blue Coral Diving, however, anchored nearly over the reefs, so that when you dropped into the water, you were immediately surrounded by thousands of tiny fish and stunning coloured reefs. 

The Snorkelling Trip with the Hoi An Diving Centre (Blue Coral Diving)

We started our day around 8 a.m with a pick up from our homestay. But you can also meet at the dive shop and enjoy a coffee across the street. From there, we picked up a few other guests and made our way to Cua Dai Harbour to load the boat and depart for the Cham Islands.

It took about an hour via boat to arrive at the first dive site at approximately 10.a.m. The team first unloaded the scuba divers, then the snorkellers jumped into the water to freely explore along the coast. Although snorkelling is not as intensive as diving, there are still employees on the boat and one employee who floats in the water to assure all snorkellers feel safe and comfortable. 

Snorkelling Experience at Hon Thai North and Hon Thai South

Our snorkelling experiences at Hon Thai North and Hon Thai South were wonderful. The biggest appeal when snorkelling the Cham Islands sites was the overall environment. There was a large variety of different types and coloured corals which can be hard to find elsewhere. The landscape truly felt alive with numerous different fish, crabs, and various other creatures. 

After the first 45-minute snorkelling session at Hon Thai South, everyone boarded again we had some fruit along with coffee and water. After that, the boat drove to the Hon Thai North side where we explored a new set of coral reefs for another 45 minutes. 

All this underwater activity worked up an appetite! Blue Coral provides a large, deliciously authentic Vietnamese lunch on the beach. After eating your fill, both divers and snorkellers have over an hour to lounge at the beach in a free, cosy chair or leap back into the water for a relaxing swim. Then it’s back to Cua Dai Harbour where a bus or van takes you back to your hotel or homestay. 

Snorkelling Companies in Hoi An: 

Hoi An Diving (also known as Blue Coral Diving)

Price: 1,000,000 VND (43 USD) *includes two snorkelling spots and lunch.

Duration: Pickup from hotel around 8 a.m., drop off 5 p.m.

Business hours: 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., 7 days a week

How to book: Through their website

Address: 33 Tran Hung Dao Street

 

Cham Island Diving

Price: 1,200,000 VND (52 USD) *includes two snorkelling spots and lunch, 

Duration: Pickup from hotel around 8 a.m., drop off 5:30 p.m.

Business hours: 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., 7 days a week

How to book: Through their website

Address: 88 Nguyen Thai Hoc

Hidden’s Thoughts

Whether you have never tried snorkelling before or you are an avid snorkeller, Hoi An is a great place to spend some time in the ocean. The biggest appeals of snorkelling in Hoi An are the beautiful reef formations, variety of underwater life, and multitude of colours. 

Make sure to visit between the months of June-August for the best temperature and visibility. 

Snorkelling is an easy day trip from Hoi An for families or solo travellers, beginners and those travelling with divers. The day trips are arranged in such a way that you all get quality time together on the boat, eating lunch together and relaxing, as well as your own dive experience just below the surface of the water.