In this second part of a three-part series about Cambodia’s offshore islands, you will experience some, but not all, of the smaller and less visited islands. There are also one or two of the better-known Cambodian islands.
Cambodia’s Offshore Islands | Part 2
After visiting Koh Kong, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samlouem you could drop by some other islands. There are many in this region. One or two are better known while most are not. So, let’s continue island hopping down Cambodia’s coast and explore some of the Kingdom’s other offshore gems.
Koh S’dach (King Island)
This island is definitely off the radar. Located in the Gulf of Thailand about 1.5 kilometres off the coast of Botum Sakor national park is Koh S’dach with its bustling fishing and farming community. And, getting there is half the adventure: from Koh Kong town you can take a two-hour minibus, car or motorcycle ride and once at the coast you can reach the island by a 10-minute boat ride. Or, from Sihanoukville catch a boat direct.
It is not a big island, and once there you’ll find a little fishing village centred around the rickety wooden dock the ferry uses. The people are mostly Khmer and Vietnamese but there are also people of Chinese and Thai descent. The village is along the east side of the island.
If you want, you can wander around the ramshackle village made up of huts on stilts perched on the water or sit and watch the fishermen head out to sea in their longtail boats then later on return with their catch. You can also try their catch at local eateries.
Koh S’dach’s coast is mainly rocky with only a few beaches, but Coconut Beach, Australia Beach and the beach at Belinda’s Resort will give you the island-paradise vibe. On the west of the island, there is also a guesthouse.
The island is rather flat and forested. Natural jungle has mostly been replaced by coconut trees and forest crops. Settlements are mainly in the north while the southern third is mostly unpopulated. Tiny Koh Khmauch lies about 250 metres to the west of Koh S’dach’s southern end.
And the island’s name: legend has it the island had a king who commanded an army. However, there was no fresh water, and the king searched for some. Eventually, he found a rock near the sea which he split open with his sword, releasing water that locals still use today at the village well.
The area is also changing markedly as a huge Chinese “resort city” development has taken root nearby on the mainland.
Blink and you’ll miss Koh Totang. It’s midway between the Thai border and Sihanoukville, approximately 60 kilometres in either direction in the Koh Kong Archipelago. The island has a solo resort, Nomads Land. With five bungalows strung with hammocks, it sits on the shore and runs on a bundle of eco-friendly systems: solar power provides electricity, drinking water comes from stored rainwater, and bathrooms have composting toilets and bucket showers. There is telephone coverage. However, there are no roads, no restaurants, no banks and no ATMs.
Few tourists have heard of it and even fewer come to visit it.
Koh Totang and Koh S’Dach are the only islands in the area that provide accommodation and on Koh Totang the accommodation isn’t cheap.
Coral reef gardens surround Koh Totang, so the island has plenty of snorkelling and dive sites. The island has a sandy main beach, and the water itself is a beautiful turquoise. Or, take a stroll from the bungalows for about 20 minutes across the jungle until you reach Sunset Beach, a deserted stretch of sand that you can have all to yourself. While walking through the jungle you’ll encounter all kinds of wildlife: elusive Iguanas, grasshoppers, praying mantis, crabs, and an incredible variety of butterflies fly through the coastline meadow.
At night, the sea glows spectacularly due to the phosphorescent plankton.
To get to the island there is a Chinese-built four-lane road on the mainland from Andoung Teuk leading to Poi Yopon village, the village being the pick-up point for the 15-minute boat ride to Koh Totang.
Koh Bong Po-oun/Song Saa (Siblings/Lovers Islands)
Also known as Les Frères, these are two tiny islets situated amongst a lush cluster of mostly untouched islands in the Koh Rong Archipelago off Koh Rong’s northeast coast. It is also home to the exclusive Song Saa Resort.
The islets’ environment is pristine with untouched stretches of white sands surrounded by clear calm waters teeming with tropical fish.
The remote private island resort of Song Saa offers ultra-luxurious villas built into the jungle or perched on stilts over the sea.
Rooms start at about $1000, so this place is not for the feint-hearted. And at that price you might think that the place is empty most of the time, wrong, it is very popular with the rich and famous and probably one or two dodgy types.
The best time to go to Koh Bong Po-oun/Song Saa is from January until March and December when the weather is warm. To get to the islands, there are boats from Sihanoukville.
Koh Kaong Kang/Thass (Mangrove Island, Ile des Paletuviers)
It is one of the inner islands and just off the coast from Sihanoukville, or 45 minutes by boat; perfect for day trips. Koh Kaong Kang is an uninhabited island and ideal for that castaway feeling.
This island has two beautiful beaches with one named after Elvis. There is the added attraction of shallow rocky reefs teeming with marine life, which has made it a popular place for snorkellers.
It is very flat, so freshwater is scarce, and one of the reasons why nobody lives there permanently.
Koh Koun (Child Island, Ile de Cone)
This is a small forested island in the Koh Rong archipelago sandwiched between Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. This uninhabited and undeveloped island is 22 kilometres from Sihanoukville or about 1½ to 2 hours by boat.
The pyramid-shaped island has two tiny beaches on the east side, the rest being rock that goes down to the sea. It is a popular dive and snorkelling spot, and all dive companies from Sihanoukville go there.
The north and west side of the island have more coral and rocky outcrops, the south and east have shallow corals with sandy areas. There is a proliferation of dazzling coral and marine life such as seahorses, octopus, pipefish, stone fish and scorpion fish.
If you are interested in going there, talk to someone at a local dive shop on the mainland, or you can organise a boat from Koh Rong. However, it would be better to travel to the island from Koh Rong Samloem, as it’s just off the coast.
Koh Tuich (Small island)
A tiny island off Koh Rong island’s Koh Tuich village. There is a little pagoda on it that has been there since around 2010. Shallow waters provide good snorkelling spots around the whole island.
Koh Puos (Snake Island or Morakot Island).
Koh Puos island lies 800 metres off Sihanoukville’s Victory Beach. Russian developers have been converting it into a luxury holiday destination and exclusive residential area. Snake Island is linked to the mainland by a bridge and road. The bridge is currently not open to the public and has a padlocked steel gate at the entrance to the bridge. Maybe in the future you can visit this Russian stronghold.
Koh Dek Koul (Nail Island)
Koh Dek Koul is a small island in the Gulf of Thailand located about 7 kilometres off the coast of Sihanoukville’s Victory Beach. The Russian Mirax Luxury Resort corporation operates a hotel business on this predominantly rocky island. The 5-star resort is the only infrastructure.
This island is a preserve for the wealthy. If you want to visit, you must rent a room and the prices start at $350 a night.
The Russians have supported the Cambodian regime for years, so it’s no wonder that there are islands, such as Koh Russei, or markets, like Russian Market in Phnom Penh, named after Russia.
If you do visit, then there is not a lot to do apart from laze about. There are a few walkways, a pool, spa, and there are various water sports. The island is also covered in lush greenery.
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Before: Cambodia Offshore Islands – Part 1
Next: Cambodia Offshore Islands – Part 3