Referred to by many as Cambodia’s “land of the beaches”, the coastal city of Sihanoukville is one of the fastest rising beach destinations in Southeast Asia today. As a peninsula protruding into the Gulf of Thailand, Sihanoukville is surrounded by world-class beaches that are covered with fine white sands. These clearly are the best beaches in Cambodia and most probably among the most attractive and relaxing ones in Asia. The sands and waters are just perfect, which is why the primary motivations of people coming to Sihanoukville are swimming and other watersports.
As Cambodia’s premier beach town, Sihanoukville is home to the following beaches: Ochheuteal Beach, the most frequently visited beach; Sokha Beach, popular for being unspoiled, tranquil and free from local hawkers; Serendipity Beach, popular for the all-night drinking and partying; Independence Beach, named after the Independence Hotel that used to be a very popular hotel in the 1960’s; Victory Beach, the most happening beach; and Otres Beach, the least visited beach but perhaps the most wonderfully unspoiled and untouched. Among the resorts in these white-sand beaches, only Sokha Beach Resort, Otres Nautica and Golden Sunset Beach Restaurant on Otres Beach offer watersports equipment for rent, such as jet-skis, hobbie-cats, kayaks, fishing boats, sail boats and so on. From Otres Beach, one could kayak to the nearby Koh Chaluh Island for snorkeling.
As if the beaches weren’t enough reasons for tourists to come, Sihanoukville is surrounded by small islands that are blessed with white-sand beaches and perfect spots for snorkeling. Most hotels and resorts at Sihanoukville offer cruises and boat trips to these islands that are all about 40 minutes to 2 hours away. The boat rides to these beaches alone are already scenic and relaxing. There are also party cruises available, and tour packages that allow travelers to hop from one island to another for swimming, snorkeling, boat fishing and picnicking. The dry season is considered a very good time for angling, and those who’ve tried it have been rewarded with an amazing catch – the prized barracuda.
The most popular of these off-shore islands is Bamboo Island. The experience is surreal as tourists are treated to a truly virgin beach. There is no electricity here. The island is divided into two unnamed beaches that have the most beautiful corals and attractive reef fishes. Snorkelers are in for an unforgettable treat. Bamboo Island, locally known as Koh Russei, is 45 minutes away.
For those who can spend a few more dollars, the best way to reach the surrounding islands is a luxury cruise with Sun-Tours. It is a two or three-day island-hopping fun around Sihanoukville on board a 3-deck luxury yacht with world-class cabins, a sundeck, restaurant and bar. The cruise goes all the way to Koh Tang and Koh Prins. A similar yacht tour is offered by Sailing Cambodia, which offers day trips, overnight and weeklong tours to the surrounding islands for snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming and picnicking.
Meanwhile, if one wishes to take a break from getting wet, the most important city landmarks to check out are the Golden Lions Monument, Ream National Park, SKD Brewery, and Independence Square. The city is quite small and easy to navigate on foot.
For scuba diving, the best tour to get in touch with is Chez Claude, which has been operating in Sihanoukville since 1992, when international tourism was just about to start picking up. Chez Claude also offers scuba diving lessons, island hopping, boating trips, excursions, and trekking within Ream National Park.
Finally, two more resorts that offer swimming and other watersports tour packages are Chez Mari-yan on Victory Hill and Tradewinds Charters at the Fisherman’s Den Sports Bar.