Ca Na Beach and the Hon Cau-Vinh Hao
Proposed Marine Protected Area
Ca Na beach is located 32 km south of Phan Rang and about 100 km (2 hours by bus) from Phan Thiet. It is a stop-off for most tourist busses going between Phan Thiet and Nha Trang. Ca Na is nearest to Vinh Hao, the famous hot springs and location of the famous bottled water company.
Ca Na is a calm, pristine beach with clear, turquoise water on a white, sandy beach. Rocky mountains plunge into the sea on both sides of the bay in a dramatic landscape. Ca Na is said to posess the best snorkeling and scuba diving in Vietnam, with its beautiful, pristine coral reefs. However, there are very limited facilities, with only a few resorts providing facilities and boating.
Like the rest of coastal Binh Thuan, the surrounding area is a desert landscape of sweeping dunes and cactus. The area is a prime spot for Cycads, including the species Cycas pectinata var elongata, which is harvested from the wild and exported to other countries (which presents a significant threat to the species local distribution).
The proposed marine protected area of Hon Cau-Vinh Hao is a total of 12,500 ha, with a marine component of 12,390 ha and a terrestrial are of 110 ha. The area is centered on Cu Lao Hon island (also known as Cu Lao Cau island). Cu Lao Hon is a low, granite island, about 150 ha in area, situated in Ca Na bay, about 10 km off the coast. Cu Lao Cao island is characterised by rocky outcrops, with sandy beaches on the north and south sides. The highest point on the island is 27 m.
Hon Cau-Vinh Hao proposed marine protected area is a very important site for coral reef conservation. The deepest point of the marine environment of Hon Cau-Vinh Hao is 17 m below sea level. Fringing coral reefs can be found around Cu Lao Hon island and platform reefs on submerged banks. The
reefs are pristine, with an average cover of 43%. This site supports the highest diversity of
hermatypic corals known in Vietnam. There are more than 65 genera of coral known here, including Acropora, Goniopora, Montipora, Porites, and Favia. There is also a small area of seagrass beds. Sea currents from the north and south converge near Hon Cau-Vinh Hao, with strong upwelling. The area has high productivity, with 175 phytoplankton species, 163 seaweed species, 147 coral species, 80 mollusc species, 46 crustacean species, 26 echinoderm species and 211 fish species so far recorded here.
Ba Trao festivities on the island celebrate the whale god every year, on the full moon of the fourth lunar month. In the early 17th century, the Cham people built a temple to worship the goddess Ana, on nearby Hon Ba (Lady’s Island). Every year, on the 23rd day of the third lunar month, Ana’s birthday is celebrated by the Cham, which is called "The Lady’s Day."
The nearby village of Ca Na is very poor and subsits on fishing, shrimp farming and salt production. The major environmental threat to Hon
Cau-Vinh Hao is unsustainable exploitation of marine
resources, including destructive fishing practices
such as dynamite fishing and trawling. The waters around Cu Lao Hon island are an
important fishing ground for fishermen from Binh Thuan
and neighboring Ninh Thuan provinces. The area is a breeding
ground for anchovy and a nursery for other economically important marine species