Since staging a small man-made come back in the summer of 2017, things have returned to a critical level for Hoi An's Cua Dai beach post typhoon Doksuri.
Photos one and two were taken a week after Doksuri, on a grey day at full tide. We took our inspiration from the holiday sites that pump out glorious photos of each destination at it's very best and reversed it. In a couple of weeks time when we update, we'll be kinder and pick a sunny day.
Although Hoi An was saved from a direct hit from Doksuri, the flood waters and debris pushed down river from the hydroelectric dams in the mountains, combined with strong ocean currents and waves left Hoi An's estuary silted and the beaches in ruin.
Though worrying for Hoi An's coastal resorts, the biggest impact is felt by the people that have lived here all their lives - presently over 200 fishing boats are stranded in the docks and the many family run businesses dependent on beach tourism are yet again picking up the pieces and worrying for their future.
Should you be concerned?
As a visitor booked to stay at one of the beach resorts, news of further erosion is naturally a major concern. Hoi An is often regarded as an R&R point in the midst of a busy countrywide tour and when choosing a beach resort, we'd all expect a beach to feature as part of that deal.
Which Resorts have been hit?
Palm Garden Resort's beach is catastrophic - during high tide there is no beach (image two). Many of the recently relocated palms at the front of the property were uprooted and the storm surge and strong waves cut beneath the resorts beach front. Neighbouring Agribank/Tropical Beach was similarly affected but no one stays there. Hoi An Beach Resorts beach car park is no more than a million shredded sand bags (image one).
Should You Change Your Booking?
We'd urge you not to, and there are several reasons for that. Firstly, the beach erosion has been a major problem for half a decade and because of this the resorts have had to really up their game. The grounds are beautiful, service impeccable, amenities vast and price points low in comparison to the quality of stay these resorts deliver. The strong sea currents present for much of the year combined with pesky sandflies and stingy sea lice during the calmer months make a large pool necessary for all but the hardiest of swimmers year round.
Another reason is that the resorts provide employment and a large source of income for the family run businesses in the local area. Just as An Bang beach to the north, the tourism industry is relatively new and to this day much of the areas income is provided by the fishing industry, a dangerous profession where many lives are lost annually. Naturally, these families are keen to invest in their children's education and want to see them taking on a safer profession. The resorts in the area not only provide this, but they are also located within a stones throw from the family home, really important when you consider the importance of the nuclear family and traditional roles each family member plays within that.
Hoi An beach in June
When is a Beach Important?
Though Hoi An's summers stretch from March through to October and year-round temperatures barely drop below 22 degrees, you'll rarely witness the calm, clear oceans pictured in the travel and hotel media until the months of May through to August.
In the monsoon season which runs from October through to Jan, you'll get more enjoyment from an ocean view than the beach itself (even the lesser eroded An Bang beach naturally gets slimmer and messy at this time).
Communication With Your Resort
We'll lead with a recent TA review example:-
Guest: "One final comment regarding the beach area. Clearly it has been subject to erosion and there are huge sandbags in place to prevent further deterioration. It is like an assault course getting into the sea. While not the hotel’s fault it really does not have a beach to speak of".
Manager Response: "Beach on this season (October - November) is high wave and was not recommended to swim but still can be relaxed on the beach during the day".
Guided by the events of winter 2016 when the beach was in a very similar state, we can hand on heart tell you that a few resorts were at best slow to inform future guests of the coastal erosion, some went as far as to falsify the information on the current situation in the hope that by the time guests stay things would be back to 'normal'. What these resort managers fail to see in their desperation to make everything seem ok, is the longterm damage that misrepresentation of the facts presents to the whole area.
A good example of this is An Bang beaches recent surge in popularity and the closure of one of Cua Dai's beach resorts, The Golden Sands.
The most frustrating part is that the worst offender is a great value resort who's beach has always been separated from it's accommodation by a busy highway. The resorts best feature has always been the resorts river view and it's proximity to a surplus of cheap and cheerful family run cafes, restaurants and the seafood vendors that set-up at the entrance to Cua Dai's public beach. In the run-up to Hoi An's first high season rush (April) they were busy emailing guests and posting facebook updates of cleverly angled photos making us all believe the beach had magically been restored.
The reality of that was eight weeks of sand dredgers blighting the island views, several thousand sand bags and a carpark turned into a 'beach'. A sorry state of affairs which thankfully improved once the dredgers had departed and the sea had calmed.
Thankfully not all resorts have adopted this approach, both the Sunrise Hoi An and the Victoria Resort have not only been quick to advise future guests when calamities like this arise, they are also transparent with their longterm marketing. Similarly, both these resorts (having lost their beach frontage years ago) are lucky enough to have direct access to neighbouring beach coves. Both these beaches are somewhat protected by the elements as they are set further back. Post Doksuri, both these beach coves came out relatively unscathed and though a little scruffy, a quick clean-up is probably all that is needed to get them back up and running until the tides turn and the sand is replenished.
What to Expect in the Coming Months
As Hoi An's monsoon season still has a few months to run it's impossible to predict presently. What we do know is that the time of writing (November 2017) the winter has been glorious (if you discount the week long weather events produced by the outer rain and wind bands of Doksuri). However, even if this mild weather pattern continues the strong winter currents and wave patterns at this time of year can continue to erode Hoi An's coastline well into late Jan/Feb. During this period only the foolish would risk any attempt of repair other than to clean-up and make safe any areas that would be classed as dangerous.
Should conditions allow, by February we can expect the return of the sand dredgers along the worst hit stretches (Agribank- or as it is now called Tropical Beach, Palm Garden all the way south to Hoi An Beach Resort). Guests staying in any of these resorts should expect to share their sea view with noisy, smokey sand dredgers and workers for well over a month.
All affected resorts will be working to the same deadline - April, but we will not likely see the real benefits of this patch and go repair until May/June and sand bags will remain to feature heavily in this area.
The beach cove to the side of the Victoria resort in the summer. You can see how these small coves are some what protected by the development that surrounds them.
If you are due to stay at any of the beach resorts over the coming months and have any concerns, we'll keep updating this thread and answering questions just as long as there is interest. Your questions are valid whatever they maybe and in posting them here we might be able to help others with similar questions find an immediate answer.
Most importantly, don't discount a stay in Cua Dai at anyone of the resorts because the beach is a bit of a disaster at the moment, instead use us to do all your on the ground snooping so that you can make an informed decision on your holiday accommodation.