Jedi Training in the Karsts of Halong Bay

Jedi Training in the Karsts of Halong Bay

 

Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Yesterday, we explored Halong Bay in kayaks.  OK, maybe not ALL of Halong Bay as it is 1500 square kilometers with 2,000 stand alone limestone islands, called karsts.   Known as one of the most picturesque place in Vietnam, Halong Bay is a UNESCO heritage site.

We stayed for five nights on Cat Ba Island which is a laid back island town on the southern end of Halong Bay.  Technically, Cat Ba Island is on Lan Ha Bay and part of a different province.  Lan Ha has the same charm of Halong without the huge number of large tourist boats.   Floating fishing villages still dot the landscape of Lan Ha Bay, and secret caves and private beaches can found around every corner.

La Ha Bay

La Ha Bay

Fishing Village, Lan Ha Bay

Fishing Village, Lan Ha Bay

Fishing village homes

Fishing village homes

The day was overcast which to me was bittersweet.  While it certainly kept the heat down and sunburns to a minimum, I’d wished my photos could have been a bit clearer.  The bay was beautiful and each time we turned a corner, my jaw dropped yet again.

Nathan and Elio, Halong Bay

Nathan and Elio, Halong Bay

We headed out in the morning for about 30 minutes on a two level motor boat ride to pick up the kayaks and find a good place for kayaking.  Also on our boat were a dozen or so rock climbers.   Apparently, the karsts of Halong Bay are a huge attraction for Deep Water Soloing.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the lingo, deep water soloing refers to rock climbing without gear, above water.   Smaller boats take the climbers out to bottom of the sheer vertical cliff sides and let them climb as high they want.  No safety gear is used.  If you fall, you simply drop into the deep ocean.   Further, if you do make it to the top of one of them, getting down is a breeze.   One step takes you directly down in seconds.

Can you see the "small" guy on the rocks?

Can you see the “small” guy on the rocks?

Needless to say, we didn’t disembark with the climbers.  Instead, we headed out with a small group of twelve international kayakers, paddling in tandem kayaks across the bays.   We followed the guide to a small cave in the rocks, and he disappeared.  We followed behind, paddling hard against the current flowing against us, trying not to hit the side of the caves and focusing on the light at the end of the secret tunnel.

Entering the mouth of the cave

Entering the mouth of the cave

Exiting the cave inside the lagoon.

Exiting the cave inside the lagoon.

In a minute or two, out we popped into the most beautiful private lagoon.  The large lagoon was completely surrounded by tall 150 foot cliffs.   We were completely INSIDE one of the karsts.  It was calm, quiet, and amazingly beautiful.   In no time at all, we had all hopped out of our kayaks for a swim in our private lagoon.   Stunning!

 

Swimming in our private lagoon!

Swimming in our private lagoon!

Lorenzo in the canoe heading back across the lagoon to the cave

Lorenzo in the canoe heading back across the lagoon to the cave

Kathrin, Halong Bay

Kathrin, Halong Bay

After more paddling, we headed back to the boat for lunch.   It was a delicious lunch of spring rolls, tasty fish, veggies, tofu, cooked potatoes, and watermelon.   The boys took advantage of the stop to jump off of the upper deck of the boat.

Jumping time!

Jumping time!

Through there?!

Through there?!

In the afternoon, we went back out on the kayaks.   This time was a little more laid back.  We first paddled through tunnels in the karsts and pulled up on a private beach.

 

 

Kayaking through

Kayaking through

 

Crawling from one beach to another.

Crawling from one beach to another.

There was a low tunnel we crawled / climbed through, out to the other side, to another private beach.  (We learned these beaches and the secret tunnels only exist during low tide.)

 

 

 

 

Jedi Training

Jedi Training

From that beach, we swam around the corner to another beach where we did a little five minute jungle climb that took us back to our original beach.  Elio had forgotten to bring his shoes on this part of the kayak trip.  Since the limestone rocks were extremely sharp, he rode Yoda-style through the jungle while Nathan did a little Jedi training.   It made for some cute photos.

 

Hanging in Halong Bay

Hanging in Halong Bay

Finally, we ended the afternoon paddle by hanging out on a private beach whiling away the afternoon beachcombing before heading back in the big boat and then to Cat Ba Town.   A great last day on in the islands!

The fam, Halong Bay

The fam, Halong Bay

6 thoughts on “Jedi Training in the Karsts of Halong Bay

    1. Kathrin Post author

      Kerri, We really enjoyed staying on Cat Ba Island and doing adventures from there. Keep in touch if you have other questions! We are sad to leave Vietnam today. We really enjoyed it.

  1. Omi and Opa

    Ok, it’s true. I’ve had a very deprived childhood. I never saw a karst, saw a floating fishing village, or paddled through tunnels in this absolutely beautiful country. Vietnam is now on my bucket list. Who’d have thought!
    I’m s happy for you guys!!!

    1. Kathrin

      Simone –
      I just sent you a photo of the place. Sorry I don’t have the name but it is right downtown.
      Must do’s:
      1. Kayaking on Halong Bay. We used Asia Outdoors and they were awesome! It cost a little extra than the tours the hotels were pushing, but it was run by native English speakers and were so well done. They are upstairs in the NobleHouse or some such place.
      2. Hospital Cave – Fun and historic. Easiest to get to by scooter if you guys rent a scooter. Hire the guide for a few bucks for a better tour. all around and have coffee or lunch with the nice folks across the street from it.
      3. Cannon Fort was nice to walk around. Interesting and a good view.
      4. Food at the Noble House place (right on the corner mid town, facing the water.) Delicious BBQ meat for Jason. :)

      AVOID:
      The kitschy floating seafood restaurants. We got so screwed. I should’ve written a blog post about how upset I was but was too embarrassed… LOL!

      Have fun! Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers