First published February 2017 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle
My Favourite Spot on one of Vietnam’s Favourite Beaches
Sao Beach is probably the most famous sight on Phu Quoc Island, and one of the best-known beaches in Vietnam. A long, arcing bay of fine white sand, washed by gin-clear waters, and fringed by leaning coconut palms, Sao is the kind of beach that most people would imagine a tropical island to look like. However, its popularity now threatens its appeal, as trash blights its shores, jet-skis pollute its waters, and large crowds descend on its sands during the high season months. But, one portion of Sao Beach remains as gorgeous as ever: Paradiso Beach Club Bar & Restaurant (open: 8am-6pm daily; 077 627 9988; MAP).
Formerly Không Sao Beach Bar, Paradiso is located at the northern end of the beach, sign-posted to the left off the main Sao Beach dirt road, and accessed via its very own paved lane. A brightly-painted, wide, two-storey beachfront villa, Paradiso sits in a prime position on Sao Beach: away from the clutter, crowds and, increasingly, trash of the central section, with blue seas lapping at the bottom of tall, swaying palm trees, and fine white sand.
The bar/restaurant is breezy and spacious, open on three sides, with a large seafront patio on which to enjoy an iced coffee, gin & tonic, plate of shrimp in tamarind sauce, bowl of sweet and sour fish soup, and many other drinks and dishes. Prices are what you’d expect: a little higher than they should be. But, given the fabulous location and decent quality, prices just about represent value for money. Reckon on a $2-$5 for drinks; $5-$15 for food.
There are comfy loungers available to rent on the sand (or in the sea when the tide is coming in), a shower on the beach, and a table tennis table in the bar if you get tired of swimming in the beautiful, safe, shallow sea. Naturally, staff expect you to buy something at the bar if you want to bathe here, and you will be charged a visitor fee if you do not intend to purchase any of the food or drink. This seems reasonable to me, but some foreign visitors get rather annoyed by it.
Strangely, most visitors to Sao Beach tend to stay around the busy central section, which leaves Paradiso nice and quiet. It’s particularly beautiful here in the mornings, before most day-trippers have arrived and the light is sharp and fresh, or late afternoons when most people have left. The swimming is excellent, the food is good, the location is gorgeous, the building is attractive: Paradiso Beach Club is by far the best place to experience Sao Beach. Long may it last.
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