This past weekend, my lady and I finally had a chance to skip away from work for a few days and pop down to Phu Quoc, Vietnam.
If you’re not familiar, Phu Quoc is an island that’s actually off the coast of Cambodia (i.e. not Vietnam). But due to the quirks of national geography, Phu Quoc is actually the largest island in Vietnam, despite that proximity to Cambodia.
It’s also undergoing a ton of development, which brings some negatives and a ton of positives.
Part of that development is the opening of certain smaller islands off the south-end of Phu Quoc to tourism.
Last time I was in Phu Quoc (October 2016) was shoulder season, so none of the boat tours were running. But this year, we went a few weeks later and were able to hit right at the beginning of high season which gave us a chance to actually check the islands out.
Initially, the one name that kept popping up was John’s Tours. They have tons of flyers and multiple tour offices around Phu Quoc. But, after seeing the John’s Tours boats and talking with a nice local guy at the Phi Cong restaurant, we were worried about choosing John’s Tours because:
- The reviews on TripAdvisor aren’t great
- They cram a huge number of people onto the boat, which isn’t great because…I hate being in a big group of people.
- I also hate structured tours and it’s pretty much impossible to avoid that with such a big group.
In the end, we searched around for something smaller and found Phu Quoc Speedboat. We were a little worried because there weren’t many reviews on TripAdvisor and the service seemed pretty new. But, they actually put effort into creating a website (a pretty big deal in Vietnam!) so I figured they weren’t a fly by night operation.
We decided to take the plunge and had a blast. There were only 6 people on our tour, which meant we had a lot more flexibility on our various stops. We ended up hitting 3 different spots (the exact locations depend on the weather):
- Island 1: Nice swimming and a small reef for snorkeling (this is the island featured in the picture above).
- Island 2: No beach – just a big reef for more snorkeling.
- Island 3: A bigger beach but no snorkeling. Has swings, seafood BBQ, and picnic tables. Nice swimming but it’s also the most crowded beach (though it wasn’t too bad on our trip as most of the boats only stopped for a little bit).
All in all, we liked Phu Quoc Speedboat because:
- We had a friendly guide who spoke English in addition to the boat driver (thanks, Phong!)
- They had life jackets, which made us feel like they care that we survived (trust me – this is not always a guarantee in Vietnam).
- We never felt rushed at any of the stops. We all just kind of did our thing until we were ready to move on.
- You can pull right up to the beach, whereas the big boats park out and ferry you in boat by boat (which is a huge waste of time).
- Most of the locations weren’t crowded, though I’m not sure if this is because we went before the peak high season.
When we were out on our tour, we saw a couple other speed boat operators – but in doing our research, we never came across them, so I’m not sure if they cater to non-Vietnamese tourists.
All in all, I’m recommending Phu Quoc Speedboat because I try to always go out of my way to promote quality travel companies in Vietnam. The travel industry here is often full of crap – so when I come across something that isn’t, I try to do my best to make sure it’s success.
If you want to tour the Fingernail Islands with Phu Quoc Speedboat, here are the details:
- Price: We paid 500k VND each for the whole day. That includes transport but not lunch. You can buy your own lunch on the third island or they have a more expensive package that includes a set lunch.
- How to get there: they pick you up and drop you off at your hotel for free if you’re around Duong Dong. For resorts that are further out, there might be an added charge.
- When you leave and return: we got picked up around 8:15 am and were back at our resort around 3:30pm.
- How to book: go to their website.