True paradise islands are hard to find these days. The Thai islands used to be such paradise islands, but thanks to the film The Beach, some of them have been turned into a horror of mass tourism. However, I think I may have found my perfect little tropical paradise, completely unspoiled – Koh Rong island in Cambodia.
I have been to a few beautiful islands in Cambodia. Koh Tonsay and Bamboo Island are both deserted and beautiful, but none of them compare to the stunning island of Koh Rong. Koh Rong island is a 2 hour choppy boat ride away from Sihanoukville, which is probably why not many tourists make it out there. It was raining heavily when we boarded the boat and even Mr Lowe (a former Royal Marine) seemed to prefer to spend the second half of the journey lying down – purely for comfort reasons, and nothing to do with feeling sea-sick of course 😉
Fortunately though by the time we had arrived on Koh Rong island the sun came out and the stormy waters turned into crystal clear turquoise coloured waters. There were only a handful of accommodation options to choose from. We were offered a $2 a night shared-dorm room but politely declined (not least because we were travelling with friends on their honeymoon!) and so instead opted for the slightly more luxurious option of a beach-front bungalow. How decadent! Our bungalow was just a few steps away from the beach and had a little terrace with a hammock, an en-suite bathroom with an outdoor shower, and electricity from 6pm-6am the next morning each day. It was simple, but beautiful.
On our first night we decided to check one of the few bars out that are on the island and Chris and my German friend Matthes were promptly convinced to take part in a beer pong competition. Really at their age! My friend Katja and I watched with amusement as team ‘Mr and Mrs Klang’ literally kicked the 21-year old backpackers backsides and got to the final, even though they’d been out drinking from mid-afternoon in typical English/German-man abroad style. So for the final it was them against two other Germans, and sadly they lost by one glass, the tightest of possible margins. They did however get plenty of free beer in the process though as they got a new can of Klang beer for each round they won. So I guess the disappointment wasn’t too big.
So with all that beer consumed the next day was all about relaxing by the beach, doing a bit of snorkeling and eating an unholy amount of food. We also had the choice of some trekking, island hopping or sea kayaking, but to be honest with a view like that why would you want to move? (plus Chris was suddenly looking and feeling his age having taken on backpackers almost half his age the night before)
There is a lot of building work going on at the moment and there are even plans for a 5 Star luxury resort, golf course and airport to be built by next year, so I doubt that Koh Rong island will stay as unspoiled and sleepy as it is at the moment. With all that development going on Koh Rong will no doubt become the next Koh Phi Phi some time in the future which won’t leave much of a paradise, but instead masses of tourists flooding the beaches. So my advice…go now, before it is too late!