Little development, unspoiled nature, rustic accommodation and 23 stunning white sand beaches make up one of Asia’s most divine islands: Koh Rong. Located an hour away from Sihanoukville in Cambodia, there are no roads on the island, and limited lighting at night. Under starlit skies, it becomes possible to spot phosphorescent plankton in the sea. Stunning corals and exotic fish also surround the beautiful island.
Snorkelling and diving
From its place on the central pier on Koh Touch, Koh Rong Dive Centre offers daily scuba diving trips around the island’s waters. Courses include PADI diver training, kids’ programmes and reef checks. Two fun dives cost $80, a PADI open water is $380 over three days or $430 over four days, and they also run a range of specialist courses like digital underwater photography and night diver. Accommodation on the pier at Koh Touch beach starts at $5 with a shared bathroom, or you can stay at one of the affiliated resorts.
Snorkelling on Koh Rong is excellent, which is a good thing considering how little else there is to do on the island. Most of the bars and guesthouses will rent out gear, with prices ranging from $2.50 to $7.50 for a snorkel and mask, depending on who you ask. There doesn’t seem to be any rule to the price variations, it’s all down to who you’re dealing with. If you want fins as well, The Dive Shop will rent you the whole kit for $5. For $10 more, they’ll also take you along on their daily diving boat trip and feed you lunch, but those who have done it say that the dive sites aren’t always suitable for snorkelling and you won’t necessarily find out until it’s too late. Best to check with them before going.
You can also arrange a personalised snorkelling tour with local fishing boats which have signs outside the guesthouses in the village. Most join-in tours take you out off Koh Touch beach and around to Sok San and back.
But never fear, you don’t need a guide! Below are a few good snorkelling spots that you can head to on your own in southern Koh Rong.
Site one: The location of the Dive Shop is an excellent snorkelling spot. On a good day you’ll see seahorses, diamond fish, needlefish and various jumping fish.
Site two: In the coral bay south of Monkey Island near the village pier there are some serious snorkelling possibilities. You’ll find yellow boxfish, rabbitfish, bluespotted ribbontail rays, goatfish and grouper making their homes there.
Site three: On the western end of Lonely Beach, we’re told the snorkelling is some of the best on the island.
Various guesthouses, such as Three Brothers, have their own boats, and run regular day tours when they have enough demand. They all seem to offer similar things: a journey up the coast, the chance to go fishing, snorkelling, swimming, cook up a barbecue, enjoy a beer or two, and if you’re lucky, a bathe among the phytoplankton in the darkness of the return journey. In other words, all the ingredients for a glorious day out.
We went out with Adventure Adam as we needed him to take us up to several points along the east coast for the day. We therefore had the boat to ourselves, but the team tried to show us as much of the spirit of their trips as possible.
Adam is an Englishman, and no other country could possibly have made him. He arrived on Koh Rong two years ago, took a fancy, and has since spent an inordinate amount of time getting to know as much of it as he possibly can. He’s a talker — believe us — but unlike most talkers, he’s also a doer. The tour was excellently run. Mars, Adam’s partner, took the kind of care that seems to come naturally to him in taking me through the elements of their safety talk, and general precautions they take to ensure everyone has a great day.
We enjoyed fishing for our lunch in the afternoon, while riding the waves of a very choppy sea (fun), and even had a swim as the weather was too bad for us to beach at Lonely Beach. TF Cambodia doesn’t actually own a swimsuit, so jumped in fully clothed.
Adam’s knowledge of Koh Rong, of the boats, of Preak Svay, and thirst for more, is what makes these trips fun. Plus Mars is a DJ, so the music was pretty awesome too. It was genuinely a day to remember. The cost is $25 for a standard full-day tour, including lunch, water, some beer, activities and equipment.