Famous for its emerald waters and limestone islets topped with green mountains, Ha Long bay is a destination that should not be missed when visiting Vietnam. Overlooking the limestone karsts, Ha Long Bay is perfect for groups looking to relax on the water. Since being recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1994, the Vietnamese government has joined hands with local business partners in the area to promote sustainable tourism in the Ha Long bay.
Besides kayaking and swimming through the caves along the bay, we recommend visiting a pearl farm and learning about one of these sustainable tourist ventures. The first pearl farms were started about 40 years ago and have expanded to provide jobs to local townspeople and fishermen.
On top of these floating farms, our groups learn how oysters are raised and form pearls. Young oysters normally develop in a separate nursery for 1-2 years. After they’ve grown to a sufficient size, oysters will undergo nucleation: the process of placing a central object inside the bivalve. As the pearl grows inside the oyster, the guide will point out the different types of pearls and the various grades traded on the market. Most pearls take 3-5 years to cultivate!
Other than producing these lustrous objects, these bivalve mollusks also help maintain the overall equilibrium of the ocean ecosystem around them. One adult bivalve can filter up to 50 liters of water per day. That is how they earned the nickname “filter-feeders.” While clearing up the area around them, oyster reefs, a large collection of bivalves joined together, have been effective in restoring damaged reefs around them. With our guide, we’ll see how the pearl farmers maintain these reefs and determine when it’s the right time to collect pearls.
As oysters are accurate indicators for overall ocean health, increased water pollution has decreased the number of pearls produced by these farms. Working with the local government and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), many volunteers have organized clean-up campaigns to address the trash problem that is piling up.
While enjoying the natural beauty of Ha Long bay, GROUND Asia travels with groups in a sustainable manner to minimize our waste. If groups would like to organize a clean-up event, some of our local cruise partners arrange clean-up days throughout the year. There are day-trip and overnight options available with cruises in Ha Long bay.
If you are interested in this activity or setting up other educational travel programs in Vietnam, please get in touch with us at GROUND Asia.
GROUND Asia partners with communities across Asia to assist in their sustainable development. The communities we work with are our clients. To meet their expectations, we empower them through mutually beneficial programs to ensure their development needs come first.