The word for island in Cambodian is ‘Koh’ and like many places in Cambodia.The south coast of Cambodia is a desert island hotspot with no less than 61 tropical Cambodian islands set against the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
Easily reached from the coastal centers of Sihanoukville, Kep and Koh Kong, they’re largely undiscovered with tourism taking its first tentative steps. If you stick to the local or small ex-pat run concerns, the Cambodian islands offer everything from palm fringed deserted beaches, traditional village life to the peaceful beach shack living.
The Cambodian islands are one of the few places left in the world where you can enjoy beautiful stretches of white sand beach all to yourself. None have paved roads, cash machines or 24-hour electricity, but what the islands lack in amenities they more than make up in natural beauty. Unfortunately, development is just around the corner, so move fast to get there before the laid-back atmosphere is destroyed by the approaching planned luxury resorts.
SONG SAA ISLANDS
In the sapphire waters of the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia’s islands nestle like dazzling natural jewels. Song Saa Private Island lies secluded in this magnificent seascape, just 30 minutes by boat from the international airport of Sihanoukville.
Most of the islands remain undeveloped – deserted oases of virgin rainforests, tropical reefs and glistening white beaches.
While Cambodia’s islands share the same dazzling qualities that made Thailand’s islands so famous, they remain a truly unspoiled paradise.
You’ll be among the first foreigners to experience this beautiful, untouched world, where rare hornbills will land close to you. In this private intimate setting, you will lose yourself in the natural world. No intrusions. No work.
The Song Saa resort spans the two islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, connected by a footbridge over protected waters. The name Song Saa means “Sweetharts” in Khmer.
Song Saa Private Island mirrors the beauty of its environment. Think intimate. Think luxurious. But above all think harmony — with all the elements of nature that make this place so special.
Twenty five exclusive over-water, beach and rainforest villas are nestled discreetly on one of the islands — the other left as a sanctuary for abundant flora and fauna including hornbills, sea eagles, old growth rainforest and rare orchids.
A five-star, over-water restaurant and lounge take full advantage of the islands’ spectacular sunsets, seascapes and starry nights. Guests can explore the island’s reef with the resort’s resident marine biologist, wander the virgin rainforest or lie on the pure white sands that fringe turquoise waters.
Lazy Beach guesthouse, Koh Tang island, Cambodia Lazy Beach guesthouse on Koh Rong Saloem. The waters around the uninhabited Koh Tang island are known as the site of the infamous Mayagüez incident of 1975 in which the Khmer Rouge captured a US ship. They also offer world-class diving, unspoilt by crowds. Five hours from the mainland and best visited as part of a live-aboard trip, divers are rewarded with a stunning diversity of corals and rocky reef dives where you’re likely to see barracudas, octopus and seahorses. Nearby Koh Prins has two wrecks to dive. If you don’t fancy a live-aboard, head to Koh Rong Saloem, much closer to Sihanoukville. Here you’ll dive with kingfish, moray eels and a wide variety of nudibranch. The island is pretty enough to warrant a few nights of post-dive chilling.
Take the first morning tourist bus heading to Koh Kong. Times vary but buses usually leave between 7am and 8am – check with your hotel/hostel. Ask the driver to drop you off at Café Sok Srei (around three hours from Phnom Penh), which is 6km after the town of Andoung Teuk. At Café Sok Srei they will be able to arrange a seat for you on one of the local minibuses ($7.5) going small island just next to Koh dach, home of Nomads Land beach bungalows. Without doubt offers some of the best snorkeling in the area, around its rocky coasts hold huge intact coral gardens. It has two beaches westerly and easterly facing. to Poi Yopon (around two hours). Poi Yopon is the local fishing village located in front of the Koh Sdach archipelago.
If you are planning on visiting the southern regions of Cambodia, it is worthwhile taking a trip to the island of Koh S’Dach. Koh S’Dach translates as “King’s Island” and is certainly fit for a king! The island is located approximately halfway between Koh Kong and Sihanoukville in the Gulf of Siam. The island is small in size but is deemed to be the fishing capital of Cambodia.
The island, like many places in Cambodia, takes its name from a legend. The story goes that in ancient times there was a travelling monarch who rested on the island with his troops. During their exploration of the island, they came across a bubbling spring coming up through the rocks. This spring can still be seen and is called the Royal Spring (it is located near to the boat passenger port)
If you are looking for a place to relax, then Koh S’Dach is the place for you. It is very basic compared to other destinations that you can visit in Cambodia; but for many hardened travellers, it is the island’s peace and serenity that is most appealing after days of bustling cities such as Phnom Penh.
Many people visit the island to experience the marine life and watery activities that are available in the surrounding area. Koh S’Dach is one of the best places to use as a base and get into a boat and explore! Located just off of the north shore of Koh S’Dach there is an excellent spot where you can see brightly coloured coral. It is also possible to hire a boat (or hitch a lift with one of the local fisherman) to visit the nearby cluster of islands – Koh Samot, Koh Samai, Koh Chan and Koh Totang.
Koh Rong Island is a Cambodian Island in the Gulf of Thailand, at about 40km off the coast of Sihanoukville. Actually, the island is deserted, undeveloped and untouched. It’s a secret island. But it will be soon one of the famous touristic destination of Cambodia. The island is certainly the most beautiful island of the Kompong Som Region. A snowdrift bay, covered by a crystal clear and turquoise water, stretches on several kilometers. At the center, a jungle with thousands of coconut palms and waterfalls invade the island. Paradise found on Koh Rong.
KOH TONSAY (Rabbit island)
Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) is so named because locals say it resembles a rabbit, an example of what too much local brew can do to your imagination. If you like rusticity, come now before the island is changed forever by development.
The main beach where the boats anchor is lined with coconut palms, hammocks and lazy chairs, a few dozen huts ($5 a night, shared facilities, $7 if you want a private bathroom).
Many people say Koh Tonsay is a ‘tropical paradise’ but don’t expect the sanitized resort version. The main beach (250 long) faces west towards the setting sun. From the southern end of the main beach, a 10-minute walk takes you to a fishers’ hamlet and two more sand beaches, one on either side of the island’s narrow southern tip. It’s possible to walk all the way around Koh Tonsay.
The island’s interior is forested and, except along the beaches, trees grow right up to the water’s edge. On the hilltop you can see the remains of a one-time Khmer Rouge bunker. There is no electricity, so at night it is just you, your torch, perhaps a beach bonfire and about a million stars overhead.
Koh Tonsay is located about 4.5 Kilometers southwest of Kep. Tourists are drawn to the two beautiful white sand beaches. The sea here is shallow and has a long slope, making Koh Tonsay excellent for swimming. At the sea bottom area a variety of corals, sea animals and plants which attract researchers and ecologists.
Getting there: Boats leave from Koh Tonsay pier in Kep for $10 return. Only 20 minutes by boat from Kep.