Con Dao islands off the south coast of Vietnam are still a hidden gem, far away from urban chaos yet accessible. The islands have been protected for decades as a national and marine park. There are thick forests on these islands, as well as lovely beaches, secluded bays and coral reefs. Six Senses resort is located on Con Son, the largest island in this chain. Ho Chi Minh city is the nearest international airport and there are daily direct 45-minute flights connecting Ho Chi Minh City to Con Son.
It is difficult to imagine this archipelago as ‘hell on earth’, thousands of prisoners were confined in jails during the French rule in the middle of last century (many visitors today take the Prison tour). Yet now Con Dao is known for quiet sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and good snorkelling and scuba diving.
For our 2 week trip to Vietnam, we had researched on islands and stumbled upon Con Dao. Na Trang is for party goers and Phu Quoc for both couples and families, but this sleepy island where life moves slowly suited us perfectly.
Stay at Six Senses
There is a small welcome area right at the Con Son airport, managed by Six Senses. We got a transfer to the resort via their shuttle. The General Manager gave us a warm welcome and a quick orientation about the property, its sustainable philosophy and the island. The 50 spacious pool villas run along a mile of sandy beach.
We had booked an Ocean View Duplex Pool Villa – it is built on two levels. The upper level housed the bedroom with a lot of space to easily fit in an extra small bed for our 5-year old, plus an ensuite bathroom. The balcony outside the bedroom on the upper floor looked down at the private pool and straight ahead at the sea. The lower level was a lavish bath area; with the bathtub on one side and an outdoor shower area on another.
There are options of Ocean Front villas with direct access to the beach, as well as Multiple Room villas (choice of 2/3/4 bedroom villas for families).
Food at Six Senses
We stayed at the resort for 4 nights and had most of our meals here. And the one time that we stepped out to try the food at a local café, we wished longingly for the cuisine we could have had at the resort.
Vietnamese at the Market offers authentic Vietnamese specialities. By the Beach is the main restaurant by the seaside, it has fresh seafood and Asian fusion cuisine. The breakfast spread, served at this venue, is excellent with a focus on healthy options to begin the day with.
I loved drinking fresh coconut milk each morning using straw fashioned out of lemongrass stem. Six Senses, with its sustainable philosophy and intent to protect the natural habitat of the turtles and other marine life, does not use any straws or other disposable plastic at the resort. There are glass bottles of water in the villas.
The Elephant Bar has casual dining through the day, with an innovative selection of cocktails. Sitting in the bar on comfy swings or even-comfier beds, sipping on a cocktail, is a great way to spend an evening. There is even a small book selection and I spent an enjoyable evening lazying with a book in one hand and a refreshing cocktail in another!
Destination Dining offers barbecues or picnics at a deserted beach or within the privacy of the villa.
Activities at Six Senses
Con Dao islands are a protected marine park and offer exceptional snorkelling and diving options. My fun dive experience with the dive centre suggested by Six Senses, turned out to be great, even though it was a cloudy day and the sea was choppy. The variety and colours of corals that was on display at just 6-m depth were astounding. The dive centre is equipped with all types of dives, including certification courses, night dives, taking experienced divers to far-off diving spots around the islands.
You can explore the historic monuments in Con Son by yourself, or with an arranged tour by the resort. Six Senses also offers daily shuttle service at certain times for drop-off and pick-up from the main town.
The resort can arrange many other experiences for guests – from trekking in the tropical rainforest, a fishing trip, learning how to master the stand-up paddle, Con Dao Prison tour, to Turtle discovery (turtles’ nesting and hatching during the May-Oct season).
You can take a mountain bike from the resort and explore the island on your own. We had a fun ride exploring a beach about 10 km from the resort towards the airport.
Or, you can just laze on the private beach of the resort.
The resort has an excellent spa within a beautiful setting. It offers indoor and outdoor treatment areas, a Yoga and Meditation Pavillion and a Hammam treatment. My massage experience felt heavenly and just the thing to do after my cycling and diving adventures.
What puts a smile ☺
That ice-cream shop with its daily changing flavours hits the right spot. This is open all day for guests, at no extra cost.
My daughter enjoyed herself at the kid centre – it had many engaging activities and a loving trained staff. This was the first time that we were comfortable leaving her in the kid centre for few hours with the staff – my husband went biking while I went for my scuba diving experience. We came back to find her thoroughly entertained and enjoying a simple meal of her choice (kids eat free at the resort!)
On my daughter’s birthday, the chef, at our request, had baked a dark chocolate cake for us. The outdoor cafe/bar at the beach where the cake was cut, much to the joy and squeals of the brat who had turned 5 that day, made the day memorable for us.
Website: Six Senses Con Dao
Tel: +84 254 3831 222
Which beach resort in South-east Asia has been memorable for you recently?
Subscribe to Zest In A Tote Digest, my monthly newsletter, for travel tips and inspiration.