Con Dao is a haven for hikers and those who enjoy the great outdoors. At Con Dao you numerous hiking options, you can hike up to the archipelagos highest mountain, hike through the Con Dao National Park, or hike along the coast to reach a deserted beach. While hiking, keep your eyes open for the islands unique flora and fauna species such as the Con Dao nicobar pigeon, black squirrels, crab-eating macaques just to name a few. Most hikes are led by park rangers and guides can be arranged by visiting the Con Dao National Park office at 29 Vo Thi Sau St.
If you are considering hiking in Con Dao please note that climate here is very hot and dry so bring plenty of water with you. Also bring mosquito repellent and remember to wear solid shoes. The following are the hikes you can attempt in the Con Dao Islands:
The hike to Ong Dung Beach is one that should not be missed. It is a simple 30-45 minute hike down to the beach through a small section of the Con Dao National Park. The well marked path to the beach is paved and can be slippery at times due to algae growth. Keep an eye out for termite mounds, bodhi trees, wild orchids, carnivorous plants, macaques, squirrels, pied imperial pigeons, red-billed tropic birds, forest wagtails, and other flora and fauna. At the end of the hike you will reach Ong Dung Beach, a gorgeous wild beach with calm seas inundated with underwater life.
There are also similar hikes to Bang Beach (5.2km) and Dat Tham Beach (6.0km), both of which will also require you to obtain a permit from the Con Dao National Park Office. Both of these hikes are only open during the winter months and are closed during the summer months due to the risk of forest fires.
At 577 meters, Thanh Gia Mountain is the highest mountain in the Con Dao archipelago. In order to hike to the top of this mountain you will need a guide, which can be arranged via the Con Dao National Park office as the trail is located on a restricted military zone. The trail to the top of the mountain is about 6kms and at the top of Thanh Gia Mountain you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Con Son Island.
The So Ray Plantation is an orchard planted during the French occupation on Con Dao. The So Ray Plantation Trail, which is about 1 km in lenght, is one of the best trails in Con Dao and only available during the winter months as during the summer months there is a risk of forest fire and as such the trail is closed. The reason why this trail is so amazing is because the forest surrounding the trail is inundated with wildlife. The start of the trail is marked by a sign at the road, so it is easy to find. After a 50m hike through banana trees the real forest starts with relatively tall trees.
The trail is a steep climb to a relatively flat top, which is located on a hill with an awesome view of Con Son Island. Some animals you might encounter here include the pied imperial pigeons, nicobar pigeon, long tail macaques, yellow rumped flycatcher, jungle fowl, giant black squirrels, northern shrew, etc.
If you want to make this a longer hike you can combine it with a visit to Ong Dung Beach for a combined loop of about 7.4km.
Hang Duc Me (hang Đức Mẹ) is small cave with a small shrine of Mary, Jesus's mother, which is why it is also known as “Holy Cave”. The Hang Duc Me cave is located in the Con Dao National Park near Ong Dung Beach and in order to get there you need to hike up a small 750m concrete trail.
Dam Tre Bay is located north of the Con Dao Airport on Con Son Island. The trail begins just east of the airport and it is approximately 3km's in length. This coastal wild trail is moderately marked and can be done on your own as it does not involve trekking through the forest. Remember to pack your snorkeling gear as there is great snorkeling in Dam Tre Bay.
On Bay Canh Island, the 2nd largest island in the Con Dao archipelago and the island famous for its turtle sanctuary, lies one of Con Dao's most important historical landmark – the Con Dao Lighthouse. Located 226 meters above sea level this lighthouse was built in 1883 and is still in operation as of today. The hike to the lighthouse involves a 2.5hr trek through the lush Bay Canh Island rainforest. While hiking this trail, keep an eye out for the rare and beautiful Nicobar pigeon.