Sally Watson

 

There has always been something at the top of my ‘travel fantasy list’ - to stay on a remote island, in a cabin right on the beach. Waking up, within footsteps from clear, warm, aqua water. This dream came true at Saracen Bay, Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia. Finally, I had found as close as it comes, in today’s world, to paradise.

I grew up hearing stories of tropical, Asian, island holidays where people slept in huts on the beach. It really is what travel dreams are made of.

The ‘bungalow beach stay’ is almost folklore in Australia. These days, however, it’s becoming harder and harder to find that remote, authentic experience.

I’d heard about Koh Rong Samloem at work one day. Some colleagues were talking about pristine waters, forests and bungalows on the beach. My interest piqued. When I saw my friend’s photos I was convinced I wanted to go.

And so I did!

Taking the ‘party boat’ from Serendipity beach at Sihanoukville pier was an experience. It wasn’t so much a party boat but a slow boat, which had beer on board and stopped for lunch and a swim at an island on the way. This service also runs as a return day trip from Sihanoukville. One of the most interesting parts of this journey was the amount of Vietnamese and Chinese people who clambered to have their photo taken with me. Perhaps the blonde hair and the blue eyes were a novelty? I was photographed as much as a kangaroo would be in a wildlife park. If only I had started charging for pictures, I could have made up my boat fare!

 

Make sure you buy your tickets for the ‘party boat’ the day before at Sihanoukville pier as there is only one departure a day at 9.30am. Alternatively, if you are pushed for time you can take a speed ferry or a private boat transfer.

 

I was careful to keep my expectations in check. I never like to build somewhere up too much, in case I am left disappointed. Yet this island really matched my hopes for a relaxing few days in a beautiful part of the world. There are no cars here so it is pretty quiet except for the buzz of boats coming and going. It was all about getting back to basics, but without roughing it too much!

Swim, take a boat trip for snorkelling and sightseeing, walk around the island, eat good Cambodian local food and drink cocktails. Escape from TV, Wifi, phones and read a book, TALK to people, enjoy nature and embrace total submersion in the moment and the place.

 

The best place to stay on the island would have to be the Saracen Bay Resort. However since bungalows are limited, it gets booked out months in advance - so you need to book ahead. Otherwise, stay somewhere nearby because the restaurant at Saracen Bay has some of the best food on the island – with amazing views!

There are cabins located in other parts of the island but I would stick to Saracen Bay for accommodation as it is the most beautiful beach, and the pier is easily accessible for arriving and departing.

 

Remoteness is what makes this place perfect. It’s a true escape from regular life and it’s blissful! There is talk that this island is going to be overtaken by big developments in the foreseeable future, so unfortunately this untouched piece of paradise may change immensely in years to come. So go now and enjoy it while it lasts!

If I could, I would jump on a plane and go back tomorrow! You can’t go “Rong!”

 

Tips:

  • Koh Rong Samloem is the smaller of the two “Rong” islands (Koh Rong is 80km2 and Koh Rong Samloem is 25km2). Samloem is about 25 km offshore from the Sihanoukville coastline.
  • To get there, take a speed ferry (takes 45 minutes, 2-3 departures daily) or party boat (takes around 3 hours, departures at 9.30am) from Sihanoukville pier at Serendipity beach. From Siem Reap, regular flights now run to Sihanoukville, or it’s about a four drive from Phnom Penh.
  • Accommodation availability is a bit scarce, especially with the best lodgings on the island, so plan well in advance.
  • It is a wise idea to take a general medical kit and insect repellent: you may also need malaria and dengue fever protection – don’t let this deter you - but I’d recommend seeing a specialised travel doctor before you leave.
  • Unfortunately rubbish and litter is a pretty common sight in a lot of Cambodia, given the lax regulation and lack of organisation in rubbish removal. Do your bit by ensuing you put all rubbish in the bin and leave only footsteps.
  • Prepare yourself for no electricity at certain times of day and no wifi on the island. Remember that’s why you are there – to escape!

Sally Watson is an Australian Journalist and media exec who loves to travel, discover new places and share stories on her blog Wing Woman Adventures.

Instagram: @wingwomanadventures; Twitter: @wingwomanADV,

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.