Cat Ba island
Cat Ba resort © yunguyen666
For most, a trip in Halong Bay means at least a night on Cat Ba Island. Many enlist for a package tour of one night on the island and one on a boat, but Cat Ba is worth investing extra time in. This 54 sq mile (140 sq km) island houses equally impressive beach relaxation and hardcore outdoor activities including kayaking, trekking and world-class rock climbing.
For those wishing to relax, there are three beaches within walking distance of town. Each is spacious and all are protected inlets with views of Halong islands. Beaches one and three are the most secluded and offer beautiful views from the short walks along surrounding cliff lines. For those looking for something more rugged, the many limestone cliffs dotting the island are ideal for rock climbing and hotels located on the town's main strip offer guides and gear. Various treks range in length but most are fairly steep. However, the reward is well worth it, as they give a bird's-eye-view of the island's national park, which is also home to the rare Cat Ba Langur.
All hotels can arrange excellent boat tours of the surrounding islands. This includes visits to deep caves with stalagmites and stalactites, secluded swimming holes, floating fish farms and kayaking. The tour is the same regardless of who it's booked through, so the cheaper the better. Whether it has been a relaxing day of sun and sea or one of thrilling adventure, it must end at the bay's floating restaurant, which has some of the best seafood in Vietnam.