Cat Ba Island, home to Cat Ba National Park is the largest island in Halong Bay covering an area of more than 350 square kilometers. Cat Ba Island is actually comprised of 366 islets and islands and is home to a variety of forested zones, coastal mangrove, freshwater swamps, beaches, caves and waterfalls. The island is also home to more than 20,000 residents whose main source of income is fishing and farming, although tourism is becoming an increasingly profitable way to make a living and many hotels and restaurants have sprung up on the island in recent years.
Established in 1986, Cat Ba National Park encompasses an area of 15,000 hectares over 50% of the island. The terrain is mainly composed of limestone mountains, many with stunning caves and grottoes. The highest peak is Cao Vong measuring 322 m.
The park boasts over 120 animal species including over 69 species of bird, 20 reptiles and 32 mammals
Other fauna include the python and numerous animals on the endangered list, among them the red-faced monkey and the leopard cat. The park is also home to a botanical garden.
There are 3 separate beaches, rather unimaginatively named Cat Co I, II and III.
By far the most picturesque is Cat Co II. Accessible only by foot and also the farthest from Cat Ba town, beautiful Cat Co II remains the quietest of the three
This cave was also used by the North Vietnamese Army.
Similar to many of the caves in Halong Bay, the 400m-long cave has an array of stalactites and is inhabited by bats.
To reach the village one can embark on an 8km trek passing the Ao Ech Lake before arriving in Viet Hai.
Located approximately 18 km from Cat Ba island, the small fishing village of Viet Hai stretches along the coastline.
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