Scout report: Phu Quy island Vietnam

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Scout report: Phu Quy island Vietnam

Postby KitesofFury » Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:31 pm

Somewhere not in the Lonely Planet exists an island 100km off the coast of Vietnam called Phu Quy ("foo-eee"). It takes 7 hours on an overpacked boat to get here. The boat is so absolutely crowded with people, cows, pigs, chickens and various goods that once you've chosen your place you can't move. The boat looks like a refugee boat from Africa and its amazing that it runs, but thank God it holds together. On this ride people are puking over the sides or where they sit as waves wash over it. Upon arriving in harbor though everyone is glad and the whole island comes out to meet you. In 2009 including ourselves there were only 59 western tourists who have visited here. The army here reports that less than 270 Western tourists have ever visited, so as a white person "Falang" you are looked at like an alien.

Phu Quy is undiscovered paradise. There are about 5 different kite spots here all featuring big waves outside the reef and flat water within. It blows 7m to 9m everyday and did so for the 8 days I was there. To get to the kite spots one rents a motorbike and drives 15 minutes or so. After launching, hundreds of locals come out to see the kiting show, and once you've landed the people analyze your strange kite gear and are perhaps thinking "How could I build one of these?". No one speaks english, so we've gone to the markets to buy squid, fish and live chickens for dinner which is cooked in a local lady's house.

Phu Quy is composed of the remains of a series of connected volcanic calderas (one of which we kite in). The geology is largely basalt and pyroclastic flows. The island takes 40 minutes to circle on a motorbike riding at a fairly fast pace. The people here earn thier living from fishing, raising cattle and farming herbs. Every meal is served with large helpings of fresh mint, basil, coriander, water cress and various other herbs which I've never seen nor tasted before.

In 10 years I believeve this island will become an international kitesurf destination. The only thing preventing that now is the horrendous, unpredictable boat ride out. But once here this place is a bit of unspoilt, untouristed tropical paradise (although. much like the rest of SE Asia, the beaches are strewn with trash). In total with hotel, motorbike rental in food costs about $12 a day. With good food, coconut trees, wind and surf what more could one want?

Our small crew of 7 consiting of a Spanish couple, a Russian, an Australian, an Italian, an Englishman, a Swiss and myself rode 2m to 3m high waves and 1m deep flat water everyday. In fact, the Spainiard ended up staying one month. If you ever come to Mue Ne, make sure to come to Phu Quy island. There's better much better kiting, fewer people and real adventure.

Phu Quy island Tips:
- There are 2 guesthouses on the island. Make sure to stay with the one owned by the island Pharmacist, she's really got a nice place and wants kitesurfers to be there.
- It is reuqired that as a foriegner you register with the Army post immediately after disembarking the ferry, which is to your left from the dock. Phu Quy has a large military base so some spots no go zones.
- Learn some Vietnamese before you go. No one on the island speaks any English except the local doctor.
- Learn to cook. There are restaurants on the island, but you'll have better food if you go to the market in the morning and buy yourself some fresh seafood. It's cheap, for example one day we bought a 10kg Tuna for less than $10usd.
- There is an ATM on the island in the main town that accepts US debit cards!
- Near the gas station, there are a couple of ladies who make fresh pastries, such as coconut bread, in the afternoon. They have a blue umbrella.
- At the location known as "Skate Park" do not kite towards the north end of the bay. That's where the locals like to spearfish and they've warned us not to kite up there. Instead kite closer to the village.
- Watch out for the big fishing nets that can be found right in the where the waves are breaking on the reef. Before getting too confident make sure you scope out where you are riding.
- The flat water areas do have hidden boulders on the reefs, so make sure to scout the area you are riding before you start to jump.
- 20 oz Saigon beers only cost 30 cents each, so drink up.
Last edited by KitesofFury on Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Scout report: Phu Quy island Vietnam

Postby PMCD » Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:38 pm

Nice report Zach. On a boat like the one you described, it is good to have an emergency exit strategy. ;)
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Re: Scout report: Phu Quy island Vietnam

Postby superstyles » Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:20 pm

I will be heading out here in March for a month. pm me if you want to tag along for this trip in Vietnam..
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Re: Scout report: Phu Quy island Vietnam

Postby stringy » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:20 am

great report zach. Welcome back by the way.
Stuperstyles- you're gonna kill it over there!
have a great time!
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Re: Scout report: Phu Quy island Vietnam

Postby KitesofFury » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:42 pm

A couple of more tips regarding Phu Quy:

- The ferry leaves from Phan Thiet (17km south of Mue Ne) every three days weather permitting. Know that the ferry is often delyed so it is very possible to get "stuck" on the island for up to a week past your planned return date. However, on the return trip you travel with the swell and wind so it is typically a much smoother and faster trip i.e. 5.5hrs vs 7 to 10 hrs.

- Try sitting on the Fly-deck of the boat and be prepared to get wet. While waves may splash over you, sitting on top of the boat means that you won't get locked inside in heavy seas.

- Please respect the locals on Phy Quy, they are very poor and don't appreciate loud, boisterous behavior. If you are looking to party this is not the spot for you, stay in Mue Ne with all the other tourists. While I was there, some Polish kiters showed up and they got very, very drunk one night and subsequently ruined the furniture in a restaurant (one of them fell through a glass table, threw around some chairs and refused to pay for the damage). This kind of activity will only give foriegn kiters a bad name, so don't do it.

- The kite schools in Mue Ne will tell you horror stories about Phu Quy. Don't listen to them, most of them have never been to the island and they just want to keep you in Mue Ne so that you'll spend your money there.

- If you have a 5m, bring it!!! Phu Quy is really windy and gets a lot of 35+ knot days.

- The electricity gets shut off at 10:30pm and retuns at 7:30 am, so plan accordingly.

- Don't be a lazy kiter! Many times the best wind on the island happens early in the morning. So get up at 7:00!

- If your goal is to kite, improve your skills (and not party) than Phu Quy is 100x better than Mue Ne. On Phu Quy you will have steady winds, butter-flat water, big waves, no crowds and a rich cultural experience.
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Re: Scout report: Phu Quy island Vietnam

Postby PinkVoldo » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:47 pm

Simply amazing. You're livin' the dream!
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Re: Scout report: Phu Quy island Vietnam

Postby superstyles » Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:56 pm

What kind of moves did you learn while you were there? Did you perfect the handle pass yet?


We are all so Envious :) :) :) :)


Hope to kite with you again soon.

btw should I bring my 14m for march?
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Re: Scout report: Phu Quy island Vietnam

Postby KitesofFury » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:23 pm

Hi Vinh,

No handle-passes yet, but definitely progressed and now I love riding the waves. Anyways, in March the wind around Mue Ne tends to back-off I've heard so If I were you I'd bring 3 kites maybe a 14, 10 and 7m or whatever you've got. You should call up the "Family Shop" or the "Vietnam Austria House (aka Nhu Huong)" in Mue Ne. You should be able to get a really nice room on or near the beach for about $12 per night that has AC, Hot Water and Satellite TV. Note that Mue Ne bay is almost always choppy like RB is here, but its fun none the less. When you are there make sure to hit Phu Quy island, to do the downwinder to Phan Thiet, and go up to Malibu and Turtle Island for some good wave riding.

When you go to Mue Ne try and get in touch with Anthony. He runs Vietnam Kitesurfing Tours. I took three trips with his company up north a few hours to Phan Riang, which also has some amazing kite spots that don't involve gettign seasick on a 7 hour ferry ride.
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Re: Scout report: Phu Quy island Vietnam

Postby Jimbo » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:01 pm

Wow Zach Phu Quy sounds like quite the epic journey. Your description is a good account and I think we all appreciate your candor with respect to the fact that this is a journey that isn't necessarily for everyone but the rewards are huge at the end of it. Way to set a nice example as American kiting ambassador. Respectful behavior and being interested in the local culture. We tend to forget that there is more than just kiting in some of these amazing far off places.

I'm eager to get back to Viet Nam and that is the rich type of experience I love about traveling to distant lands. Looking forward to hearing more stories and seeing more photos.
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