Depending on your point of view, the good or bad news is that jet-packs are banned at Sihanoukville: something to do with people bursting out of the water at speed and frightening the daylights out of swimmers. That leaves the rest of the waters clear for a whole range of activities including, unfortunately, jet skis, which blaze their way along the coastline, even amid swimmers. We await the inevitable news report. For the less selfish, there are tons of options for enjoying the waves, from kayaks to catamarans to cruises.
Kite-surfers can set themselves free with the rather serious but friendly fellows at Blue Lagoon opposite Papa Pippo at the far end of Otres 1. They offer a three-day course for $300, and hire out the gear at $50 an hour once you know what you’re doing.
Windsurfers too can take advantage of the winds off the coast here with boards from Hurricane Windsurfers in the grounds of the Queenco Palm Beach Resort at the start of Otres 1. They offer one lesson for $32 after which you should be good to go, and can hire the whole rig for $12 an hour.
We were even surprised to discover that there is surfing to be had at Otres, and Hurricane are the guys to go to for that as well. They rent out boards for all levels from $9 an hour. If you’re not feeling up to that, then a boogie board is just $7 an hour.
You can hire kayaks and small catamarans at OBR on Otres 2. This has just come under new ownership, and they weren’t able to give us a price when we checked though they promise it’s going to be good value. They’re also expanding the existing number of kayaks, making it possible for a group of friends to head out. The Club, which has been here since 2005, is in lovely, tree-filled grounds with plenty of shaded, breezy areas perfect for doing what real sailors do best: drinking.
Hiring a catamaran means you can also head out to one of the nearby islands. A six-hour hire gives you plenty of time to nip out to Koh Russei, have a picnic, swim and lounge and head back in time for a sun-downer on the beach. Sounds like a perfect day. A number of islands lie three to 10 kilometres from Sihanoukville’s Otres 2 and if you know how to sail a catamaran or are willing to take a quick tutorial, an overnight camping trip to one of them becomes a possibility.
Sailing conditions vary day to day and are hard to predict. Even during supposedly low times of year, the winds can pick up and give a good run for the money, while the optimum season of December to March can occasionally throw up dead days. A major word of caution for kite surfers and sailors alike would be to avoid late afternoon during the rainy season as that is when the storms kick in. But they can do that at any time of day. If you’re out, you need to head for shore as soon as the winds start to pick up as a storm and daily downpour will very likely be on its heels. Also, heed Baz Luhrmann’s wise words: “Wear sunscreen.”
If all that splendid isolation is getting a little much for you, you could always join a boat party cruise. Departures leave daily from Serendipity Pier at 09:30 stopping off at Koh Thass for 45 minutes of snorkelling and swimming before heading off to Saracen Bay on Koh Rong Samloen for the afternoon. The boat can take up to 160 people, has live DJs, a buffet and plenty of free drinks are included in the $25 ticket from Sea Cambodia. They also host full moon parties.
When the winds have dropped, it’s time to whip out the paddle boards — though we can confirm from ugly experience that paddle boarding in windy, choppy water is perhaps the best workout your legs and core are ever going to get. Hurricane Windsurfing has paddle boards for $9 an hour. If you haven’t done it before, a lesson is just $18.
Blue Lagoon: Otres 1, Sihanoukville; T: (085) 511 145. 10.57625 103.54945.
Hurricane Windsurfing: Queenco Palm Beach Resort, Otres 1, Sihanoukville; T: (017) 471 604. 10.58172 103.54506
Otres Nautica at Otres Beach Resort (OBR) Otres 2, Sihanoukville; T: (012) 229 200. 10.56051 103.55832.
Sea Cambodia: Serendipity Pier, Sihanoukville; T: (034) 666 6106. 10.60626 103.52130
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.