Photo: Stormy weather, calming vibe.


Only an hour away from the mainland, Koh Ta Kiev is one of the closest islands to Sihanoukville and is on the itinerary of many of the day trips and island tours that leave from the beach town. Few people stay overnight on the island though, which is a shame because it's beautiful and has a few easily accessible beaches.

Like most of the islands in Cambodia, Koh Ta Kiev has been leased to a foreign company -- the same French outfit that owns, or has taken 99-year leases, on half of Koh Russei and parts of Ream National Park. They have ambitious plans for high-end resorts and boutique luxury hotels, although there's little sign of development from them apart from the beginnings of an inland road.

A second 99-year lease has been granted to a Chinese Malaysian firm who, according to media reports, plan to spend US$2-3 billion dollars "developing" the island. Going on photos supplied to us by Crusoe Island the company's idea of development isn't really in line with what we'd consider to be development. It looks like they're just trashing it actually -- residents suggest giving the island two years before it is finished.

Yes you will have to leave one day.

Yes you will have to leave one day.

The shadow of “development” means there are just a few choices for accommodation, consisting of budget options Koh Ta Kiev Bungalows, Crusoe Island, Ten 103 Treehouse Bay and Coral Beach, all in relatively secluded calm on the west side of the island -- it's easy to walk between them. The owners of Ten 103 were finishing up a budget backpacker place at the time of writing, set to open in high season 2014, while they have further plans afoot for a more upscale hideaway, estimated to be ready for 2015. These guys must be very good chums with the navy, since building work is otherwise highly controlled and prohibited.

Three lovely yellow-sand beaches shaded by pine trees are accessible on the island, and coral reefs make for excellent snorkelling. Crusoe Island is at the northernmost end of Long Beach, then Koh Ta Kiev and Ten 103 Bungalows, with Coral Beach at the southernmost, tucked around the corner from Ten 103 with its own secluded bay. It's possible to walk the entire stretch -- Coral Beach is accessed through the bar area of Ten 103. The pine needles make this long sandy stretch of sand seem less ‘pure' than it might otherwise feel, and the tide comes in high so it isn't all that wide either.
A swim? Must I?

A swim? Must I?

Trekking paths meander through the jungle if you're feeling adventurous and would like to do a bit of wildlife-spotting; we're told that the island is inhabited by carnivorous pitcher plants. Bird watchers will be happy to hear that more than 150 species call Koh Ta Kiev home. One path is identified by blue markers which takes you to the local fishing village on the east side, another by red markers which heads south from the centre of the island, leading you to Naked Beach on the south of the island.

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For those who prefer to spend their beach time by the bar, Ten 103 has its own absinthe distillery, which daytrippers usually frequent.

Phone service is accessible on the island through Metfone and Smart, but WiFi is blessedly not available, meaning you can really relax away from the outside world.

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