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Da Nang surf

Nghề chơi cũng lắm công phu. Every hobby requires work.

The surf season is coming, and I needed to gear up. The first thing to take care of was how to transport my banana board to the beach (I was mostly renting before and would just walk the 4 blocks). The great thing in Vietnam is that if I can’t go to a store and buy a scooter surf rack, I can easily go find a welder, describe to him my needs, and he will deliver. It took slightly longer and slightly more money than I’d expected, mostly because I didn’t want anything welded directly onto my rental bike. 2 days and $25 later, I got a removable rack that can be easily disassembled for storage.


work in progress




finished work

Elated at my custom made toy, I took off to the beach, only to realize then that the board sloped downward on the rack. I cursed myself at not having the wit to ask the welder to account for the height difference of the front and back racks, and had to awkwardly ride with only one hand while holding on the board with the other to keep it from slipping. Such is how I joined ranks my countrymen who can carry anything from a fridge to a squad of kids on their motorbikes.

I hadn’t been out for 5 months! And this is why I enjoyed surfing/paddling so much. Even when it was completely flat, like that Friday, it was still so much fun to paddle out and feel like the whole ocean is yours. To be cradled and calmed. After an hour of paddling around in flat water, I was ready to go home when baby waves started to roll in. The sensation of moving using nature’s power instead of your own is refreshing, to put it simply. Baby waves are perfect for a permanent newbie like me. I had time to think, react, enjoy, and reflect.

After those few mini rides, I was a bit too pumped up and rode my bike too fast, turned too sharp and lost control and fell on my right side, crushing down on the rack and the board. I wanted to cry, not from the pain of having to wiggle my foot out from under, but because of the brutal bang that my board suffered. If you have a beloved toy, you understand. This is my very first board, and now my only one. I could see a couple of cracks but was to distressed to further examine it so I just loaded the board up again and went home.

It was an emotional night as I tossed and turned over how silly and careless I’d been. I tend to get very dramatic when it comes to my beloved baby.

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Say you arrive in Da Nang in July. After a day lazing around on the beach working furiously on your tan while admiring the calm ocean, you catch yourself thinking: Wouldn’t it be nice to have a SUP board to paddle around on the glistening water, far away from all the swimmers? Well I’ve caught myself picturing that in mind numerous times. The will is there, but the challenge is first: how to find a stand up paddle board in Da Nang. It has a long coastline, a couple of beautiful bays easily accessible, and if you want you can count the silty Han river too, and yet you don’t ever see anyone on a paddle board. None. Ever. I just know there must be one hidden somewhere in this city of a million people. There must be a one in a million chance right? So I started a small quest. And after a few questions, I did find one, in the possession of an expat who owns an apartment building 3 blocks from the beach. And as nice as he seems, he made it clear that it’s strictly personal and off limits to renting. He pointed me off to inquire at the Furama, a fancy 5* resort. And yes, they do have a beat up super sticky sandy wavestorm for a very resort friendly price of $22/hour. So I’m sad to say that, unless you are willing to drop $22 for an hour on foam, at this moment as of Aug 2014, it’s not possible to get your hand on a paddle board in Da Nang. What a freaking shame. So much water abound and not a single board available (for a reasonable price). But that might change. While looking with a certain disgust at the Furama’s wavestorm, I thought to myself: I might just as well buy lots of foam and glue or tape them together and have my own board. I now have a much grander idea and design, but it’s to be seen whether I can find someone to execute, and again, at a reasonable cost. I’ll get to it as soon as I get back to Da Nang. And if it works out, it’s gonna be a super exciting project.

Update Jul 2015: There’s a new surf school in town, toward the northern part of the public beach. They have 26 boards to rent! An impressive number, including SUP, both foam and epoxy. But still quite pricey, so definitely geared toward foreigners and tourists ($10-15, per hour I’m assuming).

Having combed through the web for accurate information on surfing in DaNang, I now would like to pay it forward with this informative post if you’re looking for some swell along this coast:

The season: October – February. Some small but irregular swells in March and early April.

The break:

  • Mỹ Khê: straight out from the T-section of Trường Sa road and Phan Tứ st. If there’re waves, you’ll see surfers out there.
  • Non Nước (the famous China Beach): 5 kms south, but if you don’t have your own board, better stick with Mỹ Khê. Beach access is by by Sandy Beach resort, you’ll see a sign.

The board:

  • Best option: the expat surfer enclave located on An Thuong 4, a few blocks from Mỹ Khê. Long term residents have congregated here on the same street, and some of them have extra surfboards to rent you.
    Gunnar, a German expat on An Thuong 4, is now renting out his boards. $4/hr for the 8′ and $3/hr for short boards. All in good condition; 8′ is almost brandnew. There’s a board rental sign in the front so you can find his place easily.
  • The well-known Tam’s Pub: on An Thuong 5, a couple of blocks from the enclave. Has a dozen of boards, including some ok short boards. Longer boards don’t have fins, or super sandy on top. I saw a big foam board. Current rate is 100 000 VND ($5)/day.
  • Da Boys Surf Shop: a couple of articles mention this place, but as far as my research shows it’s nonexistent.
  • Hoa’s b&b: by Non Nước beach, has unusable boards that people’ve left behind. Well, i guess it depends on your standard. If you can make do with one fin or lop-sided fin, there are a couple of them here.
  • Update Jul 2015: Chu’s hotel on An Thuong 1 has been renting out a handful of boards for the past year. They also sell wax ($5). There’s a new surf school in town, toward the northern part of the public beach. They have 26 boards to rent! An impressive number, including SUP, both foam and epoxy. But still quite pricey, so definitely geared toward foreigners and tourists ($10-15, per hour I’m assuming).

Forecast: My Khe surf report on Magic Seaweed