Con Dao consist of 16 islands in the far south of Vietnam, of which only one is inhabited all year-long – Con Son. The others are mainly uninhabited and offer the wildlife a retreat, including turtles who lay their eggs in this area.
Unfortunately Con Son has a rather sad history. It was used as a prison island by the French and the US, where 10.000’s of Vietnamese were hold until 1975. Between 1954 and 1975 over 20.000 Vietnamese have died here. This is why the nickname of the island was “The Devils Island”. Nowadays the remains of the French and US prisons and the Hang Duong cemetery and some smaller sites are left behind as reminder of this terrible history of this island, that is now home of only 6.000 people.
Since then Con Dao islands have become a popular destinations for Vietnamese, many with the main aim to pay respect to those who have died here.
But recently more nd more foreign tourists have heard about the unspoilt beauty of the island, with its remote beaches, the large national park and the diving opportunities. And this means the little tourist infrastructre has been improved over recent years. In addition of the smaller guesthouse the luxurious Six Senses resort opened in 2010, and some of the other resorts have improved their facilities. But it has not changed the island so far as those places still target mainly Vietnamese tourst groups. You get food in smaller food places. The remote beaches are still not full loungers and parasol. The traffic is still non existent. And if you are in need of a remote place, you can still find it here. As a bonus the island has a lot to offer to keep you busy for a longer stay.
Overall Con Dao is a great place to visit with its natural beauty and historic sites. without being spoiled by mass tourism. So visit the island before it gets too developed.
My stay here is covered in the blog entry for Con Dao.