Corals at Phu Quoc with OnBird

I recently got back from a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia and one of my favourite parts of the trip was our visit to Phu Quoc, a small island known for its beaches and coral reefs. We took a forty-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh city airport to Phu Quoc Island where we would be staying at the Novotel resorts.

The first day we mostly relaxed, played some tennis and took a quick dip in the pool. Very fun day to relax and explore the resort. The second day is truly when the action happened. In the morning after breakfast, we went down to the resort’s private beach for a swim in the sea. The sea there was very calm with almost no waves so it really felt like a pool which was nice and very comfortable swim around in. The hotel offered kayaks and paddles which we took and used to zip around enjoying the speed, I toppled over once just for fun and soon realized that getting back on to a kayak after falling over is a bit tricky even in calm waters. Anyways it was a very enjoyable time and we left after a while to change and get ready for the snorkelling tour.

We were booked for the snorkelling tour with an operator called OnBird. They came across as very customer focussed and seemed beginner friendly, and since my mother is not much of a swimmer, she preferred the small group hands-on methods of the OnBird.  Early afternoon, the crew from OnBird picked us up at the resort and when we reached the harbour we realized we were going to be a group of 7 swimmers and 2 instructors, so a very good ratio of instructors to swimmers. A big positive of this OnBird Soft Adventure was that they started with an orientation session to help swimmers get used to the water and the gear before the two main dives in two different areas of the coral reefs.

At the harbour we piled into a motor-powered boat which would take us to the snorkelling sites. We enjoyed the wind on our faces while getting to the first spot. This was close to a beach where we would be getting used to our gear and get basic orientation on how the flippers worked and also get used to the water temperature. One of the guides demonstrated snorkelling for complete beginners and the other took people who wanted to swim without life jackets out a little deeper just to see if we would be okay. I decided not to use a life jacket confident in my ability to snorkel after Kaikoura, New Zealand but my parents both opted for life jackets and my mother gladly accepted a floatation device, they gave her. OnBird instructors were very helpful towards everyone that came with them for this coral experience, expert or novice, they made us all feel ready to have some fun.

The first actual snorkelling spot was not far away, on the way, our instructor provided some basic information about corals and some do’s and don’ts aligned towards coral preservation. Unlike wading into the water from a seating position as we had done in Kaikoura, we were to stand with both feet together at the very front of the boat, press our mask to our face with one hand in front and hold the strap in place from behind with the other and then take one big step off the edge of the boat into the great blue beyond. It was a bit unnerving to enter a freefall and then instantly be completely submerged. Mamma is very uncomfortable underwater was quite scared, but she managed to muster the courage and take the plunge.

When we all got into the water it was very easy to see why snorkelling at Phu Quoc is so popular. There were bright colours and different shapes in every direction for as far as one could see. I swam through the area following the fish and admiring the amazing corals full of both life and colour. I spotted – Finger Leather Coral, Flowerpot Coral, Plate Coral and more.

After a few minutes of snorkelling when I was more comfortable in the water, I tried diving and though I had snorkelled before, diving into the water with the snorkel was a bit new. I was shocked at the force of the pressure I felt on my ears and my breath lasted for a surprising shorter time than usual. Still if you are confident in your ability to swim and can hold your breath under water, diving is a cool way to check out the corals up close. There were a couple of experienced snorkellers in the group who were helpful to show me how to dive properly.

It was really nice to be amongst so much life. There were tons of fish swimming through the corals, and they seemed quite comfortable with humans, often coming up to me and circling me, a stark contrast to the dolphins in Kaikoura who kept darting away. It was a vibrant, energetic place filled with colourful beauty.

After the first round we were more comfortable with the dive at the second site and were happy to be back in the water. By now I was much more comfortable with the pressure and the diving which enabled me to properly explore the corals. At the second site the coral that was most visible was all grey and blue and I honestly thought they were stones. Growing on these grey and blue corals were leafier and more vegetal specimen that glowed in astounding colours. This was where one could truly appreciate that corals are a life form which need time to grow and flourish.

After the swim we got onto the boat and were surprised to see a black oyster. Our boat captain a local had caught oysters which were a seafood delicacy, and we were offered the chance to try it at our next spot on the tour. Our final point on this tour was an island where we could rest after the swims, have a drink and fruits, and of course try the oyster. The island was very picturesque with swings and hammocks hanging from tree trunks and offered a lovely view of the sunset. They also had restrooms and changing rooms where we changed out of our soaked clothing. The only negative of the place was that it had a lot of mosquitoes. A quick change was important to avoid catching a cold (I still managed to catch one but that’s different). All in all it was a nice way to end the trip.

That pretty much sums up the tour. Before I end, I need to mention the danger these corals are in. Corals are extremely important, they cushion the power of waves hitting the coast, provide homes for thousands of marine species in fact they support one-third of all marine life. Due to the steadily worsening climate, overfishing, runoff from factories and reckless tourism these species are in danger. Looking after these organisms is important as presented by the tour guides. So, when you go snorkelling follow instructions and help ensure that these amazing “marine rainforests” are preserved for the future. In fact, out of the 20 coral types listed on OnBird, 5 are ‘near threatened’ and 1 is vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

So, enjoy your exploration of the coral but be careful and I hope to see you in the sea soon.

Tips –

  • Listen to the guides/instructors. They are trained in this and know what they are doing. Trust them.
  • If you think you will need a floatation device, make sure to take one, the waters are very deep and it is more enjoyable when you feel safe.
  • Check your gear and be careful in the water, this includes not diving unless you are confident, or have supervision.
  • And of course, have fun enjoy the vibrancy and the glamour of the corals.

2 thoughts on “Corals at Phu Quoc with OnBird”

  1. Dear Ronit,

    We extend our heartfelt gratitude for your valued participation and detailed review of your recent snorkeling adventure with OnBird soft-adventure journeys in Phu Quoc. Your appreciation of every detail and aspect of the hidden coral reefs in the South Phu Quoc excursion experience is truly inspiring.

    We are proud to offer an exclusive atmosphere for snorkeling, where every detail is carefully planned to provide you with an unforgettable experience. As you see, we divided the group of 7 guests into 2 smaller teams depending on their swimming and snorkeling levels to ensure that you have the best possible care during your adventure and to fulfil the desires of both experienced snorkelers and less-experienced ones.

    We eagerly anticipate your return to explore the many exquisite reefs on our island. Your passion for marine life is contagious, and we are excited to follow your journey of discovery.

    Thank you for your support, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon!

    Warm regards,
    OnBird Phu Quoc
    OnBird professional snorkeling & diving operator in Phu Quoc

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top