I took the ferry to Koh Rong. It was still raining. It was a rough ride and a girl sitting near me got sea sick. Maybe she expected this, she had a bag ready. Koh Rong is a big island with just a few people on it. There is one main village at the southern end - Koh Touch. This is where every ferry will take you. It's a crowded little spot. There are plenty of hostels, bungalows, bars, and beachside restaurants to keep you entertained for a day, but exploring the rest of the island is where the fun is.
There are a few boat taxis you could hire to take you around Koh Rong. Of course for the right price you could take a boat taxi anywhere around the island, but not every cool little beach is on the main taxi tours. Because of this and because of the sheer fun of it, I rented a kayak for a couple of days to do my own island tour. The island is sneaky big. I planned to go about half way around to the aptly named Lonely Beach on the northern side of the island. It might have been possible to make it there in one day but there were too many small, beautiful beaches to explore along the way.
It was so nice to get away from the backpacker crowd and see the peaceful, beautiful beaches that are all around Koh Rong. I set out on my kayak from Koh Touch Beach, and stopped at Long Set Beach, Vietnamese Beach, and Nature Beach, before finally reaching Coconut Beach. Riding the waves in to a deserted beach on my kayak made me feel pretty cool. As long as I didn't get turned a little bit sideways and then very nearly flip over. Not that that happened...
Long Set Beach was about three kilometers of white sand and blue water with enough people to populate about 1% of that. There are two resorts with bungalows on the beach where you can get coffee or beer depending on the time. Actually the time doesn't matter at all. Vietnamese Beach was my favorite. A small beach only accessible by foot or private boat. There is one place to stay here - Sons of Beaches. The vibe here is really laid back. This place opened about two months ago. They have a few bungalows and a few tents. It's far enough away from the mainstream and small enough to not attract the party crowd. Those who want to relax in a hammock, read a book, go for a swim, and have a beer will find this place perfect. So don't tell anyone else about this place. Nature Beach was super touristy. Crowds coming from boats on the mainland, fingers ready, no photo left behind. I stayed for about three minutes
Coconut beach is where I spent the night. It had a nice place renting out bungalows, named Coconut Beach Bungalows, with a good restaurant and friendly staff. They told me I could set up my hammock for the night free if I had dinner there. I was already eating lunch there and there weren't a lot of other eating options on the beach anyway so I was happy with the deal. There was a nice crowd that night at the restaurant and the owner let everyone have a couple tries at shooting a ping pong ball into a glass for a couple free beers. All my previous training just wasn't enough. No free beer for me. Just the normal really cheap Cambodian kind.
Koh Rong is known for its bioluminescent plankton. I've witnessed this in Australia once, and it was the most incredible thing I've ever seen. I was warned by the owner of the resort that there wouldn't be any plankton visible tonight. Obviously I couldn't just take his word for it so I paddled out around 10pm to try to find these glowing creatures. The tricky part is that you don't know they are there until they are disturbed. So I was splashing as much as I could. But it seemed like the local was right. The moon was too bright to see any bioluminescence that night. The water was calm and the ride was nice so I wasn't too upset.
I got lucky there was no rain on Coconut Beach that night. I slept great in my hammock listening to the waves.
I woke up to see the sunrise over the ocean and take my early morning swim/bath. I stepped on a sharp shell and cut my foot a little. I wasn't too worried about this until I was having lunch after I kayaked back to Koh Toch that morning and sat next to a girl who had just come back from the mainland. She went to have foot surgery because she had gotten a small cut on her foot and it got infected. Koh Rong is not a very sanitary place. There is very little if any infrastructure for waste water treatment. People tend to let nature do the work. Nature isn't really the most efficient at dealing with all of our shit. Literally. So the point is wear shoes, clean and cover any cuts, don't litter, and conserve water.
After lunch I hiked a trail to the west side of the island. This is the second island I've been on where I could watch the sun rise on the east coast and set on the west coast. Those are always great days. The beach on the west coast is named Sok San Beach. It is my favorite part of the island. The beach is at least 7 kilometers long. The southern end is being developed. Sadly I think there's a casino and condos going in. But after that construction area there is several kilometers of beach with nothing but farmland as a backdrop. There is nothing here. It is an amazing spot. Palm trees, undisturbed sand, cashew farms, driftwood. There's a fair amount of rubbish washed up too because there are no resorts around to clean up the beach. So it's not perfect, but still pretty close. The ocean here is rougher. The waves are bigger with wind coming in from the Gulf of Thailand to the west. On this beach they filmed a season of Survivor. Just a fun fact for you.
I had a perfect camp here for my last day on the island. No one around for miles it seemed. Just me and my hammock. A nice skinny dip in the full moon felt great after a long day of kayaking and hiking. So add the Gulf of Thailand to my list of skinny dipping waters. It's a confidential list of course.