Volcano eruption had built the island’s topography about 25 – 30 million years ago. Ancient traces of Sa Huynh 200 years before Christ found in Ly Son highlight the long history of the island. In 1863, the Nguyen Dynasty established a militia force to examine sea route, collecting taxes and fishing along Hoang Sa Archipelago. The vestige of the militia still remains in Ly Son together with relics of ancient communal houses particularly of Middle Region culture.
The immense blue sky and ocean in Ly Son so-called Cu Lao Re took my breath away. With a total square area of 10 kilometers square, Ly Son district is divided into two islands and three communes including An Hai, An Vinh (Great Island) and An Binh (Little Island) of Quang Ngai Province.
It takes about 30 minutes to travel to Little Island where crystal blue and white sandy beaches nestling among the jumble of volcanic rocks. Please wear swimming goggles while diving beneath the sea to view lush green grown seaweed and multi colored fishes. Under the sunlight, such beautiful natural scenery looks even more sparkling and dreamlike.
The God of Nature granted stunning exotic natural scenes to Ly Son Island. Ancient volcanic eruptions created the 5 mountains in Ly Son as well as beautiful natural landscapes. One of the most popular tourist destinations is Hang Temple in the north east of the island, at the foot of Thoi Loi Mountain. Here Thien Khong Thach Tu – God’s Stock Cave is worth a visit. Walking along the route inside the cave makes you feel like going astray to heaven or hell on earth. The wonders of the cave’s interior made up of centuries old sandstone nestling among the ancient temple running down to the sea.
Gieng Tien Mountain is another must – see destination. Wandering along the stone ladder, you head to an ancient moss-green temple halfway up the mountain, consisting of three large and small caves. Surrounded by mossy stones and jumble of giant bo trees, Duc Temple is place of peaceful and tranquility. Active volcano in the past created a deep hollow in the cave. It is rumored that fairies descended on the peak of the mountain to play stone chess.
Standing on the top of the mountain brings you a wonderful view over Goddess of Mercy Statue at the corner of the island. The statue of the goddess expresses the dwellers’ prayers for happiness and disappearance of natural disasters.
Amazing volcanic rocks nestling among soft white sand bank running down to To Vo Stone Gate so-called Heaven’s Gate creates a stunning scene. The wonders of the island look dreamlike especially in the twilight of the day when the sun disappears over the skyline and fishermen on coracle were running a race with the last sunlight of the day.
The kingdom of Garlic
Ly Son is an agricultural hamlet nestling among the lush green fields of garlic south of the island. Local dwellers’ living has long been relying on garlic farming thanks to lime mixed sandy soil. A field of onion is worth up to billions VND. Onions, garlic and peanuts are seasonally planted. It costs 500,000 VND per kilogram of ‘single’ garlic. The sand for growing the garlic must be regularly replaced by white coral sand. Bunch of garlic serves as meaningful gifts and souvenirs.
Fresh exotic seafood
Ly Son is home to various kind of seafood; including fresh shrimps, sea crabs, fishes and cuttlefishes. Especially Huynh De sea crab serves as one of the most amazing local specialties. Steamed Huynh De sea crab surprises your taste with aromatic flavor of white crab meat soaked in pepper and salt.
Fishing season of Huynh De sea crab lasts from late winter to next year’s May. We took a chance to enjoy a unique and exotic dish made of sea hedgehog while having dinner in Ly Son Hotel Restaurant right next to the port.
It was the first time I enjoyed a dish of raw sea hedgehog with vegetables. The dish had hot taste of mustard and butter-taste of sea hedgehog meat. The dish made unforgettable appetite.
Ly Son’s flying fish is well worth a taste. “The early summer is an ideal time to enjoy flying fishes”, said by Mr. Nguyen Viet Dung, a 42 year old boat captain in Ly Son. Whether fried, grilled or just served with vegetables, exotic taste of flying fish has so much to offer. A flavor of butter-taste flying fishes together with hot peppery mustard and alcohol brings you unique experience with local cuisine.
The sight of flying fishes running on water makes beautiful memories on a long journey across the sea in Ly Son. Ly Son Island is a perfect combination of beautiful natural landscapes, exotic local specialties, warm friendliness and hospitality. The island is definitely a not-to- be missed destination.