Instagrammable- isn’t it the word nowadays to describe the places, outfits and moments most exciting and pleasing to the eye ? All of us out there in the social media game try to provide a cool and inspiring feed for our followers, to capture that unique shot which perfectly expresses our esthetic and individuality.
It can be a beautiful race if you don’t take it to a back-bending, anything-for-likes level- and you stick to what you’re passionate about, no crowd-pleasing compromises. There are amazing content creators and digital nomads around the world, delivering original posts and making us dream of faraway places to visit one day.
But I digress (well, this is going to happen quite often through my posts). Was just sayin’ we all aim for that Instagram-perfect shot (it has replaced postcard-perfect- who else but some nostalgic hipsters sends postcards anymore?) – the question is how to get that Paradise-Found image of a secluded beach…when there’s literally HORDES of HUMANS everywhere ?!
Everytime I travel I cannot help asking myself “how did this place look 30 years ago ? What were the vibes back then ?” Instead of this ugly mammoth of a chain hotel, looking like a Communist Appartment Block from the ‘80s … fisherman shacks and beach hammocks. Only one beach bar instead of 20 lined up and each blasting different music, the sunburned, beer-soaked tourist pouring in and out looking like one wobbly, oversized chicken wing.
How lucky the conscious travellers of two-three decades ago must have been, exploring a serene Asian landscape uncontaminated by mass tourism. And as a mother of two curious and bright-eyed kids, my heart aches a little thinking that by the time they’ll start traveling on their own, hungry for experiences, there will hardly be anything left- in the way of authenticity, privacy and the exciting sense of discovery- even the most hidden gems on the road will be shared with thousands of tourists. The “all-to-yourself” places and moments are narrowing down by the minute.
Rant over, back to the beaches of Phu Quoc now.
Our lovely homestay was steps away from Long Beach – which as the term suggests…is long but not very wide. Gets quite busy with cookie-cutter tourist families as it’s lined with the most popular resorts- and we knew that although quite nice we weren’t after this kind of vibe. The sand has a warm bronze tint and the sea gets a bit cloudy, like a well-stirred lemonade. Beach snobs that we are, we left in search of that pearl-white sand and crystal waters stretch of perfection.
We hopped on our motorbike and off we scooted. As they say, “to get lost in the right direction”.
Bai Sao, Star Beach : finally the dreamed white sand, swaying coconut trees in the gentle breeze, and as many as three (!) Instagram-Swings for all of us out there eager to post the idyllic scene without putting up a fight while queuing (“Hey lady, how many more bloody shots are you taking?! They all the same anyway!”) . But surprise surprise, before we could sit, arch our backs and strike a pose, a local man came running to us demanding the swing fee ! We decided we had enough swing pictures already and we’d rather invest that amount in a fresh coconut on our sunbed.
Bai Dai, Starfish Beach : this was our favorite Phu Quoc Beach to date ! Wild, unkempt, backpackers scattered on a sandbar, a few children looking into the shallow turquoise waters for the palm-sized red starfish the beach got its name from…
A small beach restaurant with a few tables, serving Bintang and coconuts from a cooler box, hammocks swaying invitingly in the sea breeze. Our idea of an almost-perfect beach to spend the day!
There’s a wooden pier nearby taking you to the Floating Houses seafood restaurants, offering the craziest variety of the freshest catch: live shrimps, crabs and lobsters kept in tanks, but most of the fish still swimming in the sea in specially enclosed spaces. They’re all family-owned at it was a pleasure to witness everyone big and small contributing to our delicious meal !
An Thoi Archipelago Islands:
The Phu Quoc cable car took us all the way to Hon Thom- Pineapple Island- where the beach, while beautiful in itself, is part of the Sun Resort Park- which means truckloads of tourists are brought by tour companies to spend the day there and enjoy a buffet lunch with local entertainment (not really our thing). The first picture of this post was taken there- which proves that for blogging purposes there is always a dreamy angle to be found, while to the right of the image the shore was raging with screaming children on the water inflatables- bouncy castles that grown people weren’t shy to use, noisy tourists and busy boats.
On a later note we found out that our desired Robinson Crusoe-style of island beach could be found by doing a boat tour around the An Thoi Archipelago- and having the chance to explore remote and all-to-yourself beaches like those on Hon Mong Tay – Fingernail Island and Hon Gam Ghi. It’s ok, we’ll be castaways next time!