Castaways in Ha Long Bay

We got on the boat! Finally. After days of weight loss and seeing absolutely nothing we got to spend three days like pirates sailing through the bay and transferring between a number of boats. 

This post is mainly going to be a photo album, and it’s not half the pictures we took! The place was just stunning. Ha Long Bay is a famous landmark even if you’re not into travel. One of the 7 wonders of nature, it’s easy to see within minutes how this place attracts people from far and wide every single day. There are a huge variety of different trips, tours, islands and boats that you can explore that are suitable for travellers of all budgets and ages. As you can imagine, we were not on one of the luxury cruises (that looked magical) but rather on a tour aimed at backpackers. Because we are pathetic, we didn’t go for one of the “party boats”. Personally, I couldn’t think of anything worse than spending three days in such a beautiful surrounding and not seeing anything but the bar and the toilet. Not only that, but our tummys were still a little fragile so I’m pretty sure we couldn’t have hacked it even if we had wanted to. 

This shot was taken on our first afternoon. Our boat departed the harbour and took us into the maze of islands that you can see just a fraction of above. We sailed to an island that was home to three underground limestone caves. I was completely surprised that inside of what appear to be hills and mountains there could be such magnificent natural beauty. 

The pictures don’t do it justice at all. The place was huge, but not only was I too mesmerised to take many pictures, many that I did take are mainly darkness!
After reboarding the boat we were taken to another island with a little beach. The water was warm and blue and the sand was near white. We had the misfortune of having to stay there until the sun set over the bay; with nothing to do but soak up the views. 

Just terrible. We spent the night on the boat where we got free beer and hung out with a cool couple we met aboard called Elliot and Harlie. They had just set out on their trip, and were heading to similar places as me and James. I would say we played cards, but really I just got thrashed at cards. Hopefully we cross paths again and I can improve my game by then. For now I can follow their own adventure on Instagram, and that of their ukele too. Check it out! I was sat right across from him as he recorded his first post in the bay. 

It was the night of the “supermoon” too. 

Our next day was full of adventure and really did feel like so much longer than 24 hours. We woke up early and kayaked around the bay as the sun was rising. The heat was still unbelievable! Me and James tandem kayaked but I think I did my fair share of paddling as well as picture taking. 

After kayaking, we went to a pearl farm which was totally unexpected but really cool! The pearl farm just floats in the bay and they have over 1,000,000 oysters in their nets as they patiently wait the years it takes the pearls to form. There was the opportunity to buy many many pearls but I’m quite proud to say that we came away without jewellery. Not necessarily happy, but proud of my restraint. 

We also visited Monkey Island. As it’s name suggests, there were monkeys! Naturally to get to the island we jumped from the boat (into water we had just noticed was home to some pretty big jellyfish) and swam ashore. We were invited to partake in a walk to the top to get a picture-worthy view. This walk was undersold by a long way. By no exaggeration, it was a pretty intense hike which involved rock climbing. In flip flops. The view however was not undersold and the treacherous hike was well worth it. We were both very relieved to get down and back in the water though! 

The rest of our time in Ha Long Bay was spent at an island in a beach bungalow. It was like something from a travel agent’s fancy brochure, but I assure you the price was not. The island was setback near Cat Ba Island and boasted a bar. Needless to say, our time spent here was nothing short of heavenly. 

All in all, Ha Long Bay was a waste of time. I joke. An absolute must for any visitor to Vietnam. I had heard so much about it and seen so many pictures before our trip but nothing was as good as sitting and looking at the stars on the back of a ship and realising how bloody lucky you are. 


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