One thing I like about Con Dao is the variety of things to do – from visiting historic sites to relaxing on the beach. And as added bonus the traffic on the island is nearly non-existent. Considering that the interesting sites are spread across the island, getting a scooter is a very good option – unless you prefer to cycle.
The main place of the island is Con Son village. Here you find lots of food and drink places, and I found the waterfront a great place to be at sunset.
One of the main reason to visit Con Dao are the beaches. I have seen 5 beach, all worth at least a short visit. Here is an overview of these beaches.
There are plenty of interesting historic sites about the atrocity that happened on the island when it was used as prison by the US and French. There are several small memorials and ruins of this past across the island, but the most popular sites are the three old prisons. The best-known prison is Trai Phu Tuong with its Tiger cells. The second one is Trai Phu Son in the middle of Con Son village, though I have not visited that one. Lesser known but non less interesting are Trai Phu Binh and Phu An camp. Overall all these sites help to gain a better understanding the sad history of the island.
The other important site, Hang Duong cemetery, should be visited at night after 10pm or 11pm. For me this was a rather emotional place to visit. Otherwise you find little memorial site all over the island.
The northern part of the island is dominated by a hill top and a jungle, offering some nice hiking options. Here are more details about the National Park.
West of Con Son Town you can find the Van Son Pagoda on top of a smaller hill. From the temple you get a wonderful view over that area.
One highlight of Con Dao is the diving. I was told by a dive guide in Hoi An that Con Dao is seen as the best dive place in Vietnam. And I must admit, it is a nice spot.
Con Dao is also famous for the turtles, who use one of the uninhabited islands to lay their eggs. Most agencies and hotels offer tours to visit the island to spot the turtles or the eggs. Unfortunately, agencies and even the National Park do not really protect the turtles here. Apparently the sights of killed turtles, some even cut open while still alive to get to their eggs, is not uncommon here. So please do not support the turtle tourism, which might help to protect these endangered animals.
As you can see, Con Dao has a lot to offer.