Three of the strings that Cat Ba Island has to its bow can be found on its southeast corner facing out into Lan Ha Bay. The Cat Co beaches are the most famous beaches on the island by quite a distance, and quite possibly the most well-known amongst all destinations in Lan Ha Bay. These are three separate stretches of golden sands with a cliff-side walkway running between them, all easily accessible from the town and all managed by the three separate resorts that claim them.
From the main town of Cat Ba, the beaches are a mere 5-10 minute walk, which is one of the reasons for their enormous popularity. At the time of writing, Cat Co 1 beach, confusingly placed in the middle of the other two, is under renovation and will soon be part of a very ambitious hotel project on the island. Cat Co 2 beach lies to the north and is claimed by the Cat Ba Beach Resort, which offers simple but attractive accommodation amidst a lush garden.
Cat Co 3 beach is the most appealing of the trio, looking directly south into a bay of limestone rocks and gentle blue ocean. Cat Co 3 beach is owned by the Cat Ba Sunrise Resort, who have a bar and an array of sun loungers for hire across the curved shore. The beach itself is quite small but good times can be had here as long as you avoid peak hours, when entire families come out to revel in the beauty and freedom.
Swimming in Cat Co Beach
What is there to do on the Cat Co beaches?
•Kick back with a book, movie or the company of friends on the soft sands of any of the beaches. For the more active of visitors, there are a few opportunities for beach sports, while each one allows the option to take drinks onto the golden sand.
•Walk the cliff-top between Cat Co 1 and Cat Co 3 along its wooden boardwalk. A gentle climb and a sloped descent make the walkway perfect for everyone and a very beautiful way to skirt around the small outcrop that separates the two beaches. The walk is only 5-10 minutes, but the views of Lan Ha Bay are constant and there are a whole host of photo-taking opportunities along the way.
•Engage in the watersports available on all Cat Co beaches. These range from serene excursions such as kayaking to more extreme varieties like jet-skiing and sitting on an inflatable dinghy while a speedboat driver hurls you around the sea.
Relaxing at Cat Co Beach
When is the best time to go to the Cat Co beaches?
Cat Ba Island in general shines year-round, but there are specific times that visitors should both head to and avoid the Cat Co beaches. Spring and autumn bring the most ideal conditions in the temperatures, rainfall and sunshine, providing opportunities to stake a spot and spend all day looking out into the shimmering bay. You will have to arrive early in the day though, as these two seasons bring some of the biggest crowds to the Cat Co beaches and space is very much at a premium.
This is even more the case during public holidays such as Vietnamese New Year, where the scenes across the beaches are astounding. The Cat Co beaches are some of the closest to Hanoi and Hai Phong cities, along with many others in the Red River Delta, and their small sizes are certainly not equipped to deal with the influx of arrivals that they experience during the holidays.
Aside from this, summer and winter provide the second worst time to visit the beach trio as temperatures soar during summer and plummet (though not too drastically) during winter. The lack of rainfall is welcomed in winter but in summer, the consistency and force of the rain mean that visitors usually find other things to do. Add to that much-reduced sunshine hours and there is really little need to visit Cat Co beaches at these times, though you are likely to enjoy some uncommon peace if you do.