Île de la Baleine and an Extreme Review of the Private Whale Island Resort
Whale Island in English, Île de la Baleine in French, or Hòn Ông in Vietnamese is all about an isolated island in the Central of Vietnam, located in Khanh Hoa province. It is also one of the destinations that are on my bucket list for a long time. Because of Covid, I have more time to travel around my country at a better cost. Therefore, why not taking this time to enjoy the private environment in one of my favorite places – the Whale Island Resort.
I actually go as a concept that Vietnamese call “going up to the forest and going down to the sea”. Indeed, after my trek to Bach Moc Luong Tu and wander around Sapa city, it’s time to find an island to enjoy the sea. At Whale Island Resort, it truly meets all of the criteria for my favorite resort including – empty, clean, and green. If you want to know more, let’s follow me to explore the island!
First, How to Book a Room at Whale Island Resort?
Opened and managed by a French husband and a Vietnamese wife, Île de la Baleine is the French name of the island that you can use to find its info. Nevertheless, an English name will be easier if you look for a place for booking rooms.
They have a booking form right on their Whale Island Resort’s website in English so you can book a room and learn more about their services and activities. Otherwise, Booking.com is always my top choice when I think of booking a hotel room. You can click the banner below to both see extra images and book a room at this resort on Booking.com.
At this 3 stars resort, they only have a selection of bungalows but the prices are varied depending on the view. I booked the normal one at $21 but they upgraded the room for me to the $47 bungalow with a sea view. As a result, I feel the price is very reasonable for me, especially with this kind of significant privacy. Indeed, there is only me and my brother, if I exclude the other 20 staff here.
Ways to Go to the Island
The boat that carries you from land to the island of the resort, about 30 minutes, is included in the ticket so it’s better to not mention it here. I would better tell you about how you can go to Ben Dam pier.
1. By the Resort’s Shuttle Car
The most ideal ways for those who want to enjoy deep relaxation or have children. There are 2 turns a day of the 16-seat car to pick up guests from anywhere in Nha Trang City at 9 am and 2 pm. The price is $20 USD per passenger, and free for children under 5 years old. This car will take you to Ben Dam pier, about 110km from Nha Trang, then you can take the resort’s boat to the island.
The time from Nha Trang to Ben Dam pier is about 2.5 hours. From Ben Dam to Whale island is about 15 minutes. Overall, this is the most convenient but expensive way as it costs $40 USD/person for 2 forth and back ways. There are also 2 shuttle car trips each day that takes guests from Ben Dam pier to Nha Trang city at 12 am and 4 pm.
In addition, if you want to go directly to Cam Ranh airport, the resort also has a car to take you there, priced at $25 USD/person. The travel time is about 3 hours to 3.5 hours for a 140km road. In case there are less than 3 guests, you must pay a package fee of $80 divided by the number of passengers, which is even more expensive. The fare applied the same if you want to pick up from Cam Ranh airport to Whale island.
2. Taking Buses to the Pier
This is a convenient but less costly way to choose. From Nha Trang city, you can take a bus to Van Gia bus station. After that, taking the bus to Dai Lanh, but you should get off at Co Ma intersection, where the entrance has a signboard that says “Nhân dân thôn Ninh Mã…” in Vietnamese. From here, you can catch a motorbike taxi to Ben Dam pier. The price will be about VND 70,000 for a distance of 18 km. At the harbor, there is a resort’s boat which will take you to the island. Totally, the cost for these 2 ways going forward and back is about VND 200,000/person.
3. Riding Motorbike Yourself to Ben Dam
The most adventurous but enjoyable way. Yes, you can rent a motorbike from Nha Trang city and ride to Ben Dam pier. At the place, parking your motorbike and taking the resort’s boat to the island. The cost for this option is about VND 370,000 including renting a motorbike and gas for 2 people. In my opinion, it’s still cheap this way.
Actually, renting a motorbike in Nha Trang city is easy and not expensive. Specifically, the price for renting a geared motorbike is about VND 60,000 for 24 hours, a scooter is VND 90,000, and a nicer scooter is approximately VND 110,000. You may be required an ID, or passport for the rent. But you should keep your driver’s license so that you have a document for riding on the road and checking-in when you go to the island.
Additionally, there are many beautiful scenes on the road from Nha Trang city to Ben Dam. If you take the shuttle car or bus, you won’t be able to stop and take beautiful shots easily.
The Rooms and Amenities
It’s All About Bungalow
This resort has 31 rooms in total and all of them are bungalows. In which, a standard room is for 2 people and a large room for a family includes 4 people with 2 double beds. Children under 5 years old are free of charge. Also, the resort offers a free crib for children upon request.
In reality, the bungalows at Whale Island are separated with some facing the sea and some facing the garden. Fortunately, on my trip, I was freely upgraded from the garden bungalow to the sea-view one. It could be because there was no guest at the resort but me. At the sea-view bungalow, there is a small garden and 2 beach chairs that you can lie down reading a book while watching the beautiful sea at the same time.
Amenities Cannot be Simpler
Yes, the rooms are simply equipped. There is no hot water heater, no television, no refrigerator, no air conditioner but only a ceiling fan. In fact, it’s cool all year round so no A/C needed. Besides that, the owners made their resort significantly environment friendly. The bungalow is mainly a “leaf” house with bamboo walls and furniture, wooden floor. Evenly, the cotton swab is made from bamboo stems. All of which truly makes it as simple and authentic as the Vietnamese countryside. In the evening, the surrounding space is extremely quiet, with night birds or insects’ voices sometimes. There is rarely the sound of motorboats running in the distance. Absolutely no thudding music, noisy traffic, or humming people.
Wifi at the resort is free. Nonetheless, guests must go to the resort’s bar or restaurant to use. Every night after dinner, you can gather at the bar to enjoy your favorite drink while accessing the internet or updating information via FB for friends. Under the pale yellow light, the gentle murmuring waves, the cool sea breeze, and the country music bring a very classic atmosphere that is not easy to see in modern life. Perhaps that is the main attraction which visitors want to look for in at the Whale Island resort.
Although the service quality of Whale Island resort isn’t an excellent rating with some limitations, those seem to be on the purpose of the owners. In a way, they help you to ignore the annoyances and chaos of the hustle of city life, to immerse yourself in nature, and most importantly, to spend most of your time with the loved ones.
Food Served at the Resort
The breakfast is including in the price. Nevertheless, you have to pay for lunch and dinner at $14/meal, excluding drinks.
The menu is set up by the resort itself, changing by the day. However, each meal has only 1 menu for any guest. In my opinion, this is somewhat an “authoritarian” way of cooking to show that the chef is very confident with his skills. What if the guests from other countries coming to Vietnam for the first time and they cannot accept strange dishes? Anyway, each meal is full of dishes from rice, soup, main dish, side dish, and dessert. I found them quite delicious and good in taste too.
Whale Island resort gives its customers two bottles of water every day. In addition to the main meals and drinks, the resort also has a number of other beverages such as coffee, soft drinks, beer, etc. to serve guests in need. Prices for the drinks are also affordable, not very expensive.
Here at the resort, when eating or using any services, you do not pay immediately. The money will be charged to the room rate and paid once upon check out.
What Activities to Do on Whale Island
Because this place is mainly for relaxation and experience with nature, please don’t expect thrilling games there as in Vinpearl Land, Nha Trang. There are only experienced and adventurous games such as sailing, diving, kayaking, etc. with affordable prices. Below are some activities that mostly participated in by visitors.
1. Swimming in the Sea
It’s the main beach right in the resort is the longest and most beautiful beach on the island. When you arrive, you may just want to plunge to freely bathe in the clear blue water. The sea surface is as calm as a mirror, and the sand is so long under the water that you can swim a long distance but it’s just at your chest-level. Furthermore, the water is so clear you can see the rocks, the fish swarming at the bottom. Indeed, there are no big waves here, but only very small ripples. At the time I came, the space is quite private and comfortable because there were no other bathers.
Moreover, the main beach is located in the west so you can watch the sunset over the sea. You can take beautiful photos in the afternoon between 4 or 5 pm. When against the sun, it is easy to shoot high-contrast artworks. On the other hand, you should take pictures in the morning at around 9 or 10 am, when it’s good sunny, you will see the clear water.
2. Hiking and Exploring the Whole Island
In addition to the main beach, Whale Island also has other beautiful beaches such as Pearl Beach and Mango Bay. If you stay on the island for 2 days or more, either you spend 1 whole day to explore the island, going to those beaches, or it is a huge waste.
In fact, you can go to the receptionist to ask for a map of the island, or you can track the paths using GPS. There are 3 main trails for you to choose from including yellow trail, blue trail, and red & white trail, also the hardest one. The shortest trail is only about 20 minutes, and the longest one is roughly 2 hours. On the trails, there are painted colored lines on the tree trunk to show the way so do not worry about getting lost. If you don’t bring shoes, you can wear sandals. Yet, don’t forget to bring enough water for the whole trip if you don’t want to drink seawater!
3. Snorkeling and Watching Coral
Every day at 9 am, there is a boat that takes guests to the sea for snorkeling to see the coral. The trip is about 3 hours. And the price is unexpectedly low at only $7/person. Truly, that’s a more affordable price comparing to other services.
Quick note, although they say “tours are available every day”, you should book in advance at the reception. Because if sometimes there are too few customers, the boat driver will take a break. It would be bad in that case as you might not have many chances to go to the island.
4. Scuba Diving
At Whale Island Resort, there is a scuba diving instructor who can teach you to get familiar with the activity. Enjoy, and let it becomes one of your greatest experience on the island.
5. Kayaking and Canoeing
The fee is quite cheap too. It’s only $8 for 2 hours. And canoeing is only $5 for 2 hours.
Tips Before You Go to Whale Island Resort
- Please be a responsible traveler and protect nature while in your stay at Whale Island Resort!
- Preparing at least a set of suitable clothes and a pair of trekking shoes if you plan to go around exploring the island. Also, don’t forget to bring enough water when hiking.
- There are trails displayed clearly on the map for you to follow. The shortest path to visit most of the spots on the island is going to Pearl Beach from the resort, then heading the View Point to have the vast view of the island. After that, coming back to the intersection and following the blue trail to Mango Bay.
- Making sure that you don’t forget to bring sunscreen when traveling to an island in the tropical region.
- There is no choice of dishes in the meals. Thus, you may think of bringing snacks to the island. Although it isn’t allowed, obviously no one will check your bag. But please don’t bring too many so you can support the resort to keep running.
Additionally, you may need to prepare enough medicines for the trip just in case you cannot go with the food.
- Île de la Baleine is the French name of the island called by one of its French owners. Hence, you can use French here if it’s more comfortable for you. Some staff can use it too.
- The island isn’t crowded most of the time to keep the best private experience for the visitors. So you should be careful about joining the activities, especially when there is no one around.
An adventurer who loves to save and share his trip to the world.
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