Cat Ba Island Beaches
The first beach is called Cat Co 3 -- you can reach it by following the harbour road west until it ends, and then mounting the steps and going over the headland (if you're on a motorbike, they'll charge you 5,000 dong to park it at the base). On the other side is the Sunrise Resort, but the beach in front of it is open to the public (don't worry, we checked, it's true).
If you head west on the harbour road but turn up the hill on the left, you'll reach Cat Co 1. There's some sort of scary-looking resort/water park here that we were too frightened to enter. We think it might be haunted. Anyway, down the stairs to the left is the beach. Food and drinks are available, and you can rent beach umbrellas for 10,000 dong per day -- but the umbrellas are perched on a rather rocky shore that's too close to the tide.
For a better beach, cross Cat Co 1 and take the cat walk around the headland -- in itself sort of an impressive feat of engineering -- to Cat Co 2. There are a few more facilities here, including a restaurant, and a place where you can rent various beach equipment -- hammocks, floaty things, kayaks and even swim suits, at fairly reasonable prices. They also rent some wooden huts for 50,000 dong a day, and tents for those staying overnight (see accommodation) for 120,000 dong to 200,000 depending on the size. All the beaches feature murky green water and dull brown sand, so don't expect to be blown over, but on a hot day in summer -- what the heck, it's a beach.