Cambodia’s Untouched Island Idylls
When most people plan a beach holiday in Southeast Asia, they usually think of popular destinations like the southern beaches of Thailand, Phu Quoc in Vietnam, or maybe Indonesia’s Bali, but they are unlikely to consider Cambodia as an option for sun and sand. In fact, Cambodia barely seems to have a coast when compared with its neighbours, and yet, if you look at Google Maps a little more closely, you will notice it has a relatively long, winding coastline with several tropical islands comparable in size to other popular resort islands in the region.
One of these islands is Koh Rong Sanloem, which lies about 25 km off the coast of Sihanoukville city in Cambodia and 4 km south of its larger neighbor Koh Rong. It’s the ideal destination for beachgoers looking for quiet relaxation off the beaten track, with easy trekking, snorkelling and swimming. On the east side of the island is Saracen Bay, a large heart-shaped cove with some of the most pristine white sandy beaches in Southeast Asia. It’s the main tourist area on the island and yet it only has a dozen or so bungalows and a few high-end villa resorts. The crystal clear waters are ideal for swimming and since the island remains relatively untouched there are some beautiful coral reefs and rocky areas with an amazing variety of marine life, providing excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving.
With only a few discernible fishing villages and hamlets, the largest of which is in the north, most of the island’s interior is jungle. Here you can find a number of brooks and streams, and an abundance of birdlife, including kingfishers, osprey and even great hornbills. A simple road network built over a century ago during the French Protectorate of Cambodia has now all but vanished in the undergrowth, but there are a number of trails crossing the island’s interior making for some easy trekking opportunities. A lighthouse at the southern end of the island is the sole remnant of the island’s colonial past under the rule of French Indochina.
Getting to Koh Rong Sanloem is easy from Sihanoukville city. There are a number of ferry services to the island leaving the pier on Ochheuteal Beach, also known as ‘Serendipity’ Beach, which take about 40 minutes, and several slower boats that take about two hours and serve a great buffet lunch. Visitors to the island are also advised to bring some cash with them to pay for accommodation, food, drinks and other activities, as there are currently no ATMs or banks available on Koh Rong Sanloem.
If you’re looking to kick back after touring Angkor Wat and the other temples of Cambodia, what better way to relax than on the stunning, unspoiled beaches of Koh Rong Sanloem
For more information about booking a beach stay on Koh Rong Samloem, as well as other beach destinations in the region, please email [email protected].