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Video: Snorkeling in Nha Trang with Vietnam Active

If you don’t think of beach paradise when you think of Vietnam (I wouldn’t blame you, but …), you’d be missing out on so much of what the amazing country of Vietnam has to offer. Vietnam has something for everyone, from the metropolitan hub of Ho Chi Minh City to the spastic streets of Hanoi, all the way to the tropical beach resort towns of the country’s east coast.

We’ve made our way to five cities in Vietnam and have loved each one for different reasons. One of the cities we think just about anyone would love is Nha Trang, on the central east coast of Vietnam. In this post, we’ll share a bit about Nha Trang and our experience snorkeling with Vietnam Active, including a short video of my first (Kenny’s second) snorkeling trip!

Nha Trang

Beach bummin’ in Nha Trang

Nha Trang: Welcome to Paradise

Nha Trang is beautiful. A crescent of white sandy beaches are hugged by towering distant hills and ocean views popping with tropical islands. The water is clear, the views are dreamy and the beaches are relatively empty. Not to mention, for Americans, it’s relatively cheap for a beach resort destination. (We’re talking a nice room at the oceanfront Sheraton for $55 USD, amazing vegetarian meals with beers for around $3 USD per person, and rooftop cocktails for about $5 USD.)

Nha Trang

Our lunchtime view of Nha Trang Beach from Sailing Club Nha Trang

People flock to this resort city for its beautiful beaches, oceanfront promenade and vibrant marine life off the coast of Hon Mun Island. In Nha Trang, you’ll find people taking to the water by day and dragging their sunburnt bodies to rooftop bars by night. While views from sea level are superb, if you haven’t looked underwater, we’re not sure you’re visit actually counts.

Nha Trang sits on the major train route through Vietnam. We reached Nha Trang via the overnight train from Hoi An (via Da Nang).

Booking Our Snorkeling Excursion with Vietnam Active

I (Emily) had never been snorkeling, but decided there was no better time to try than in a beach resort city where water sports are basically required. We did some research (well, we picked the top rated vendor on TripAdvisor) and ended up booking a snorkeling trip with Vietnam Active.

A day of snorkeling cost $25 USD, which seemed reasonable. (I actually really hate when companies abroad post their prices in USD, because they know I will think $25 USD sounds reasonable compared to the local price of 560,000 dong, which I know is actually pretty pricy relative to everything else in town. But whatever, we bought it.) The price included:

  • Hotel pick up & drop off at Vietnam Active Office
  • Fruit, coffee & tea
  • Boat ride to two snorkel spots near Hon Mun Island
  • Lunch (make-your-own banh mi)

The website states to book at least one day in advance. We booked at 3 PM the day before we wanted to hit the water, paid the 20% ($5 USD) due at booking via PayPay and received an email confirming our hotel pickup time by 6 PM.

Nha Trang to Hon Mun Island

We were scheduled to be picked up at 7:20 AM. By about 7:30 AM, our ride arrived and we hopped into a nearly full transport van. We made one more stop, then drove for about 15 minutes before arriving at the docks. We spent about 10 minutes here before boarding our boat. There were two boats for Vietnam Active, each filled with a mix of Scuba divers and snorkelers. There did seem to be some confusion around who went on which boat, but after some shuffling, everyone eventually got on one and was instructed to put on the provided life vests.

Nha Trang Snorkeling

It was about an hour on the boat before we arrived at the first dive site. During this time, the instructors met with the scuba divers and gave instructions on the equipment and hand signals. They passed out gear to everyone, including the snorkelers. We thought we heard them giving instructions to other snorkelers, but we never got briefed with any instruction what so ever. It was fine, though, snorkeling isn’t that complicated.  We also were not offered wet suits, and while we could have probably asked, we decided to just stick with our swim suits. When people started jumping off the boat, we jumped in, too.

My First Snorkel

We had a couple gear issues — my snorkel was missing part of the piece you bite down on and Kenny’s goggles leaked — but we got situated and swam a little way from the boat. It took me a while to adjust to breathing with the snorkel, the water was cold, there was a decent amount of sea lice and the views were okay, but not amazing. It wasn’t the best first experience, and I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt about it. After about 30 minutes of the allotted 60, Kenny was cold and tapped out. I quickly jumped at the opportunity to head back to the boat.

We sat on the roof of the boat, had a coffee (Nescafe 3-in-1 of course), ate some fruit and made ourselves a (pretty crappy) banh mi. It was a nice break, and after about 45 minutes we’d arrived at our second dive site. One of the instructors saw us shivering when we got on the boat after our first attempt, and offered us wetsuits. I gladly accepted and suited up for my second snorkel session. Kenny was still cold and opted out.

Snorkeling in Nha Trang

Kenny opted to chill on the boat at the second dive spot.

I Think I Like It

The second area was stunning. The water was so clear, the coral was so cool, there were no sea lice, I was all cozy in my wet suit and there were so many fish and they were all active and beautiful. It was just so great, and I’m glad I went for the second dive because it completely changed my mind on snorkeling. I tried to stay in the water as long as I could, spending most of my time over the same coral spot near the coast. I was one of the last snorkelers out of the water after about 45 minutes, but we stayed in the area for quite a bit longer waiting on the divers to finish.

After everyone had made it out of the water, we made the journey back to the coast. I loved the boat ride back even more because we were able to sit along the front of the boat, wind in our hair, as we cruised though the surrounding islands making our way back to Nha Trang.

Snorkeling in Nha Trang

We made it back to the docks around 1 PM. We were all loaded back into vans and driven back to the Vietnam Active office. The office was near the main resort area of Nha Trang (we were not dropped off at our hotels on the return).This is where you will pay your remaining balance, but it was kind of a mess. They didn’t remind you to pay, and it actually would have been really easy to forget and leave accidentally. They accepted payments in all forms (cash, credit card, PayPal) and there was no real organization around who owed what. I’d recommend paying in full when you book so you don’t have to deal with it afterward.

Come Snorkel With Us!

Have you been snorkeling before? What’s your favorite destination? I’m looking forward to going again and would love to hear your suggestions!

Vietnam’s coastal placement makes it great for aquatic activities. For a fun option up north, check out our review of the two-day one-night Bhaya Cruise on Ha Long Bay.