Cambodia’s Offshore Islands – Part Three


This is the third and final part of a three-part series about Cambodia’s offshore islands

After visiting Koh S’dach or Koh Totang, there are still some great islands you could drop by. One or two are well-known while most are not. So, let’s continue island hopping down Cambodia’s coast and explore the tail-end of this extraordinary island chain.

Koh Russei (Bamboo Island)

The island, also known as Koh Russey and Koh Ru, is one of a group of small islands in the Gulf of Thailand about 20 kilometres east of Sihanoukville. It is about 4.5 kilometres offshore and a 45-minute boat trip from Sihanoukville. It is also very close to Koh Ta Kiev.

The ferry for Koh Russei departs from Sihanoukville’s Serendipity pier. There are no banks or ATMs, so take enough money with you.

The long gold beaches of Koh Ru are breathtaking. It was one of the first destinations to capitalise on tourism. There are two beaches, and a small path through the middle of the island connects them the so you can walk between the two in ten minutes. In fact, you’ll find footpaths throughout the island, so you can explore the interior.

There is also warm, blue, crystal-clear water, which is perfect for swimming, snorkelling and fishing.

The Koh Ru side has the best beach on the island with spectacular sunsets. This place is also much quieter than the other side of the island.

If you decide you’d rather not leave at sundown, there are bungalows on both sides of the island. However, it’s best to book in advance as accommodation fills quickly. Come nightfall the island is deserted.

For many years, the island served exclusively as a small outpost of the Cambodian Navy. However, rising tourist numbers in Sihanoukville brought increasing numbers of travellers to the island.

Koh Ta Kiev

Tired of hearing about the good old days of southeast Asia’s island living, then put Koh Ta Kiev on your bucket list. Only a handful of budget resorts straddle the west and southwest shorelines, with opportunities to sleep in hammocks or under canvas, as well as dorm and basic hut options.

Another breathtaking island that’s yet to be destroyed by foreign investment, Koh Ta Kiev is just one hour away from Sihanoukville by boat and close to Ream National Park. Even though it’s the closest Cambodian island to the mainland it retains that castaway island feel. Make sure you stock up on cash before you leave the mainland if you want to spend the night here.

The fingerprints of big development are fast appearing here with a road sliced through the thick jungle interior to service a planned luxury resort on the north shore.

Koh Thmei (New Island)

Also known as Ile du Milieu, the island is immediately southeast of the Sihanoukville headland and inside Ream National Park. It is located about 300 metres off the coast of Cambodia and next to Phu Quoc.

The boat trip from Sihanoukville will take 45 minutes to Koh Kchhang fishing village on the mainland.

When you get there, you will find pristine beaches, clear waters, and breathtaking landscape. The waters that surround Koh Thmei are some of the clearest and pure that you will find anywhere, and the beaches are never crowded.

Only 200 people live on the island with most living in the small fishing village of Koh K’chhang.

The electricity on the island is generated by solar panels and generators. Electricity is only available from 6:30am to 11:00pm each day. Phone service is accessible on the island through Metfone and Smart, but there is no WiFi.

Unspoilt and pristine

Due to the unspoiled, pristine state, dense, lush jungle, its remoteness and small population, Koh Thmei is considered one of the most ecologically esteemed Cambodian islands. The highest point on the Koh Thmei is roughly at its centre with two main peaks. The peaks are separated by the Prek Koh Krabei River. The peaks rise to more than 100 metres and drain in all directions, lending the island the shape of a gentle mountain. The island’s moderate elevation enables it to retain enough water for a few little rivers, creeks and estuaries.

On the island, there are seaside bungalows with some other accommodation also available. You can camp out as well.

There is great scuba diving and snorkelling around the coral reefs. You can either do this right along the shore of Koh Thmei Island or, if you wish, you can go out on a tour boat or rent a boat for the day and go out further into the Gulf of Thailand. The beaches are piled with exotic seashells for those who don’t want to go underwater. Athletic types can kayak and when the weather’s right, even surf.

Cambodian Surfing

Koh Thmei also offers the best surfing in Cambodia. There are incredible waves, and a large area of open water that allows for some of the best surfing you will experience.

The island offers a bus system that will take you anywhere you want to go. The roads are small, but the buses are few so be prepared for a short wait of 30-45 minutes.

You can also rent a bike for the day. There are trails and paths all over the island. Bikes allow you to get around to any location as quickly as your legs will get you there.

Koh S’mach

Nearly deserted tropical paradise. This is the best of the nearby islands, just one kilometre away, home to a small fishing community and with some sandy beaches.

Koh Tang

Koh Tang and Koh Prins, which are only reachable by boat, a trip that can take as much as eight hours. These islands offer what are said to be the best diving opportunities in Cambodia, but visits must be chartered or arranged through a diving outfit. Large pelagic are seen regularly and visibility is double what you will find at the closer sites.

Overnight trips are necessary in order to reach Koh Tang.

Koh Seh (Horse Island)

It’s former French name is Ile a L’eau and is located inside Ream National Park. It lies 1.5 kilometre south of Koh Thmei and around 9 kilometre south of the mainland of Sihanoukville’s Ream commune. A 4.3 km (3 mi) wide sound separates it from Phu Quoc.  Less than 400 meters south-west of Koh Seh lies the tiny islet of Koh Ky.

You will find Koh Seh is uninhabited while most of its shores are fringed with mangroves. The island constitutes the south-easternmost part of Ream National Park.

At just 2.9 square miles, Koh Seh is one of the smallest islands off the coast of Cambodia but is it still a very popular resort island to go to. It is not surprising that so many would want to come to this beautiful land, as Cambodia is quickly becoming a hot bed for those looking to find the perfect tropical getaway. Cambodia not only has beautiful waters, island paradises, and an amazing climate that allows for nice warm temperatures year round, but the fact that this area is just new to tourism is making it a perfect place to go to because the islands to not have hundreds of years, or even decades of tourists traipsing over them ruining the beauty of the land. It is just beautiful here and a lot of it remains looking totally natural.

Koh Seh Scuba Diving

Right now, it is completely undeveloped, but there are plans to change that. There is a project that began late last year to add a large resort hotel here.

The primary reason that people come here is because they can enjoy the water like few other places on earth. The island has had a small number of tourists to it, so the island is quite pristine.

Besides swimming and laying on the beach, the most popular activity on Koh Seh is scuba diving. As the island is protected, the coral reefs around it are pristine, and you will see sea life that will astound you.

Koh Tres/Kteah (Pan Island)

Formerly known to the French as Ile Ronde, the island is off Otres beach and easy to reach by boat. There are plenty of boat owners in the area who are willing to offer their services. If you are game, then it is only a 15-minute Kayaking trip. Koh Tres has a small beach, which is submerged at high tide. Only one Cambodian family, or government officials, live there. Thinking about a morning, or even a day trip, then try this island.

Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island)

Just a 25-minute boat ride from the old colonial beach town of Kep, the sight of it as your longtail boat approaches – all fringed with palm trees swaying in the breeze and speckled with hammocks on the shoreline – is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Cambodia. Picture-perfect with warm, gentle waters, Koh Tonsay is usually secluded.

Koh Poh (Coral Island)

This place has clean white sands, turquoise water, coral reefs and great snorkelling. The huge island that dominates the horizon is Phu Quoc, which is in Vietnamese waters, is called Koh Kut by locals from when it belonged to Cambodia.

And that’s it. I hope you have enjoyed Cambodia Offshore Islands. They are extraordinary places to visit with their pristine beauty, lush jungles, white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Many of them are teeming with wildlife and offer a break from the mainstream. Unfortunately, the Cambodian government is quickly selling off permits to develop many of the islands. My advice, if you want to visit these islands then go now before it’s too late. All you have to do is look at what happened to the islands in Thailand to understand where Cambodia is heading.

Before: Cambodia Offshore Islands – Part 2

Beginning: Cambodia Offshore Islands – Part 1