Koh Kong Island is a lovely day-trip to make from town where you can be left in splendid isolation to frolic on squeaky sands pretty much all to yourself.
Plenty of operators in town offer trips out with prices that we saw varying from $13 at Paddy’s Bamboo Guesthouse up to $26 at Wood House. We took a trip out with Ritthy Koh Kong Ecoadventure Tours, for an all-day, all-inclusive trip that cost $18.
The island is roughly a 2.5-hour boat trip away from town, on one of the long cabin boats with longtail propellors. Our group of nine took off at 08:00 for a trip that took us out past the floating village to the south of Koh Kong city, the fishing village at Bak Klang on the other side of the Thai Bridge, and the mangroves of Paem Krasaop Sanctuary.
Ritthy arranged for us to spend four hours on the beach, which left plenty of time for exploring the 700-metre long beach, which we had all to ourselves. Not one other soul was to be seen until a local couple rocked up later on, coming from the now-closed resort on the strand next door. The snorkelling was lively, with plenty of fish to be seen, including moon fish and barracuda. Back on land, the sand is so fine it squeaks when you walk on it.
It’s not possible to explore further inland, though behind the beach we found a small creek that was besieged with butterflies. And rubbish. There was lots and lots of rubbish. It’s one of Cambodia’s anomalies that its people see no contradiction between extreme chauvinism and a general tendency to trash the joint.
Then it was time to dry off while our cheerful guides served up a barbecue of delicious grilled fish, chicken skewers, rice and beers — all included in the price except for the beers, which were $1. All too soon — except for those who come out in a blazing sunburn the moment they even look at a beach, even when they sit in the shade — it was time to head back to to town.
The publicity for the tour promised a possible sighting of Irrawaddy dolphins, which we had kind of taken with a pinch of (sea)salt. Our cynicism was ill-founded though. As we dried off from a heavy shower that hit us on the way back — nearly killing one of the engines — one of the group let out a shout. He’d just spotted one cresting for air in the bay. Huge excitement. We all watched, enthralled, as members of the school took turns coming up for air. We only saw about six or seven of them, but it more than took our minds off our sodden, cold, clothes.
Stopping off at the Peam Krasaop Mangroves on the way back whiled away another hour and a half as we explored the concrete walkways that thread the dark, almost sinister, forest of trees with their roots buried somewhere in the brackish waters beneath. A viewing platform at the end gives a gorgeous view of the area.
Overnight camping is also possible with Ritthy for $55 a night.
There were two hotels on the island, but one is now closed. The other, which we weren’t able to get to see, is the Koh Kong Island Resort.
By Nicky Sullivan.
Last updated on 30th January, 2016.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.