Isolated from the mainland by a river, Tam Hải island commune, in the central province of Quảng Nam is an ideal destination for adventure trips, with crystal-clear water, white sand and mild waves.
This island emerged 600 years ago and its historical vestiges still remained in Thuận An hamlet at the foot of Bàn Than Mountain. The village, which is between two estuaries – Cửa Lở and An Hòa – has a rich ecology that is perfect for the mass production of seafood and wetland species.
When summer comes, residents from Tam Hải commune, just five minutes by boat from Núi Thành District’s Tam Quang Commune, will begin collecting seaweed. The beach will be crowded with local fishermen during the seaweed season which lasts nearly two months. It’s a bumper crop this year, with the chance to earn more than VNĐ3 million (US$133) – nearly double the commune’s revenue per capita – from selling dried seaweed starting at VNĐ5,000 per kilo.
However, harvesting seaweed was an unstable trade and source of income for residents. Fishing is still the main livelihood of residents in Tam Hải. Fishermen earns most of their living from squid, caught between 4 am and 2pm every day. Each kilo of squid earns him around VNĐ200,000 ($9). Baby lobsters are even better, with prices of up to VNĐ350,000 ($15) per kilo. However, residents haven’t yet become rich from fishing, mostly of them are small-scale fishermen.
Waters surrounding the island are well protected by coral reefs that stretch over 5km, and a primary mangrove forest, creating a safe shelter for fish. “The island has plenty of natural forests and rich wetlands for both seafood production and tourism, but it needs a Master Plan for future sustainable development,” said vice chairman of the communal people’s committee, Nguyễn Tấn Hùng.
There is only one resort in Tam Hải island called Le Domaine De Tam Hải resort, a French-style resort, and some guest houses to accommodate around 700 visitors at the weekend. Only 12 qualified local residents were working at this resort.
Bạch Thị Lan, 50, has just opened a food stall on the beach to serve weekend tourists, hoping that tourism will increase. “It’s still an odd job for me. Anyway, it means I can earn a little beyond my husband’s fishing. I hope more visitors come to the island in the future as islanders could improve their living standards through tourism services including homestays, tour guides, car parking and boat trips,” Lan said. “We have every thing here, fresh air and beaches, seafood and hospitality. We hope our lives will improve from our traditional trade and the available treasures of nature and landscape.”