During that ill fated war in the 60’s and 70’s a whole lot of GI’s were drafted into the jungles of Vietnam from the beaches of California. There’s often talk of some of these displaced beach bums putting down their M60 machine guns, getting their hands on some kind of a surfboard and going off to pioneer the virgin waves of this unlikely surf destination.
Now, some 40 odd years later, the Vietnam war (or American War as the Vietnamese call it) is a distant memory and the country has firmly established itself as a holiday destination But despite this there’s still a lot of virginal swell to be found lurking in Vietnam’s coastal jungles.
The best time to surf Vietnam is from September to May, when the country’s east coast gets the brunt of the South China Sea’s winter swells. As is the case in many countries worldwide, the best spots to surf in Vietnam lie in and around a peninsula. The Son Tra Peninsula juts out of the west coast and is the home of a handful of surf spots that work in all manner of swell directions.
What is commonly held to be Vietnam’s most beautiful beach stretches for 35km south of the Son Tra peninsula. This is where the American army set up the famous China Beach R&R – the place where those 1960’s GI surf bums did most of their wave riding. This was also the location of the first, and last, Vietnamese international surf competition back in 1992.
When surfing Vietnam there is a possibility the lack of surfers sharing your waves could get a bit much, don’t worry though salvation is at hand. Indonesia, Asia’s surfing Mecca, is just a hop skip and a jump to the south. A weary adventurer could find solace in the the cavernous barrels of Uluwatus and the myriad tattooed Australian maniacs milling about. It’s always good to know the option’s there.