Ten years ago my wife and I decided to tie the knot. It was a beautiful ceremony that was so special it gave us a lifetime of memories to enjoy. What made it all the more memorable was the amazing honeymoon we decided to take.
When we got married both of us had already been married once before. She had two small kids, a six-year-old and a four-year-old, and I had a child of my own, a nine-year-old boy. We had an amazing blended family where the five of us were going to spend the rest of our lives together. It truly was a match made in happened because our families got along together quite well.
The wedding was spectacular and the kids were very cooperative during it. It was clear that they were just as excited by the day as we were, but they were a little disappointed to know that they were not going on the honeymoon with us. Instead, they stayed with Janice’s, my wife, parents. We wanted this memorable time to ourselves, and we found that the perfect place to visit was Koh Rong Island.
What is Koh Rong Island?
If you have never heard of Koh Rong Island before, you may not be alone. Up until about 15 years ago nobody had really heard of this beautiful vacation spot. Koh Rong Island is the second largest island in Cambodia and is located in the Gulf of Thailand. For generations this island, also known as Monkey Island, Leigh almost fallow, as no significant tourism occurred on the island.
In 1999, a group referred to as the Royal Group was granted a special lease to be able to turn this into a resort island. The government wanted to be able to create a tropical paradise that would attract tourism from all over the world. Needless to say, my new wife and I found this to be the ideal location to go.
A Little About the Island
Amazingly, this is a relatively small piece of land. It is actually only about 15 km wide and 9 km in length at its largest point. The entire area of the island is just 78 km² or about 30 mi², obviously a very small piece of land. It’s relatively flat as well, with its highest point being no more than 316 m above sea level.
Well only having a very small mountain area, that hill does provide a lot of water to the creeks and estuaries you would find on the island area. The interior of the island is covered in trees. However, virtually the entire outer portions of the islands are covered in beautiful beaches. 43 km of land goes directly to beach area. There were 23 separate beaches on the island that are covered with beautiful variations in color of sand, ranging from white to beige to rose. It is an absolutely spectacular site.
There were also incredible bays that are there in the island area. These bays not only allow for close to shore boating and swimming, but also provide some of the most spectacular beaches a person will ever see. It is amazing how these crescent-shaped beaches surround these beautiful waters in these bays and inlets, making for one of the most memorable times a person could ever have is they view upon this beautiful scene.
As you get further into the island, you come across some of the most spectacular rain forests you have ever seen. Truthfully, they were much better the very first time my wife and I went, but over the years illegal logging has cut down in the health and amount of jungle area that one can visit. It is kind of tragic to see this happen, but it still is beautiful. Besides, the Cambodian government is taking steps to prevent this from continuing to occur.
These rain forests provide some incredible rain showers during the day, and presented an amazing display of nature’s beauty as you’re walking through them during one of the storms. To hear the birds and other animals making noise, and then dead silence as the storms are about to hit is an absolute thing of beauty. There simply is nothing like it.
There are only about 1100 people that live on the island. In fact, the south side of the island is virtually uninhabited. This provides for some rather wonderful walks and muse as the area looks nearly untouched by human intervention. No big buildings, but instead just beautiful sands to be able to enjoy.
Why We Decided on Koh Rong Island
You have to understand that my wife and I made a choice to come here based upon the recommendations we had heard from others. Neither of us had ever been here before, and really the only things we knew about Cambodia were related to things we had learned in our American history books. To us, Cambodia was that country where Viet Kong forces were hiding out in during the Vietnam War. We both remembered reading about President Nixon bombing this land, neither of us could tell you much more about the land than that.
Here we were though. Traveling halfway around the world to a place we knew very little about to begin our lives together. It seemed like kind of a crazy beginning to be honest with you, because we really were only going on the recommendations we had received from a few friends who had visited the island two years earlier.
They explained to us that the island had only been open as a tourist attraction for five years at that point, so much of it was unspoiled by tourism and other forms of people related industry. This is what made it so beautiful, they told us, and was a place we definitely needed to go to. Oh, how right they were.
How You Get to Koh Rong Island
Clearly, the island was not built for some form of a large airport, so there has to be alternative methods to get tourists to the island. This is done by speedboat, which carries people from the mainland across the gulf to the island itself.
As you travel across the water there honestly is few places on earth that look so amazing. The waters are majestic looking, and the waves are very comfortable to write on within the speedboat. You feel quite at ease as you were on your way to your destination.
Once on the Island…
Once we arrived to the island are real journey had just begun. There are five major hotels on the island itself, and every one of them has an absolutely beautiful view of the water in the nearby lands. It honestly doesn’t matter which direction you’re facing, because even if you are looking inland on the island you get incredible views of the rain forest area as well as to the other side of the island where you can still see the beautiful water and lands far away. It truly is impossible to describe how amazing it is.
The hotels are relatively inexpensive. For such an amazing resort you would think that they would be in the hundreds of dollars per night, that was not the case at all. Rooms were very reasonably priced and the furnishing in each room only added to the experience of being there. It truly was a home away from home where we could not only enjoy lounging around in bed, but had comfortable seating to just sit and chat, although, we were on our honeymoon so chatting wasn’t what we did a lot of in the room.
There were beautiful balconies for us to sit out on. Each night my new bride and I would sit out on the balcony and watch over the waters of the gulf, just holding hands and staring at the sun sent as it went down. There was clearly no more beautiful sight on earth other than the incredible woman who sat with me each night as we did this.
We wanted to explore and enjoy every aspect of the island, and that was made possible by the amazing transportation system that they have there. Many buses and vans travel around all day long and provide easy access at a reasonable cost to get wherever you would like to be. All of these buses traveled by each hotel to pick up people staying there and take them virtually anywhere they wanted to go on the island. The smaller sized vehicles made it easier to access the beautiful forest areas as well as the beaches.
One thing that we did have to admit though, was that the two lane highways were often extremely crowded. For such a very small island area there was no doubt that tourism had really added to the traffic. Sometimes this meant it took quite a little while to get from one destination to another, but was such a beautiful view everywhere we were we never really minded.
Laying out on the beach was a beautiful thing to do, but the waters allowed us to do so much more. It was easy to be able to rent a boat and travel around the bay areas or inlets to enjoy a romantic little sail. They were great ferry rides that you can take that would carry you out onto the water away from the island where you could scuba dive or fish.
That I mentioned fishing? Some of the most incredible fishing you will ever encounter was in this beautiful land halfway around the world. My bride and I enjoyed hours out on the water catching fish and enjoying the beautiful scene of schools of fish circling around us.
At night time on the water was really something though. Just as it started to get dark outside you could see the waters begin to light up. At first, it was kind of odd to view, as we tried to figure out what was going on. However, someone soon to explain to us that the plankton in the water light up at night creating one of the most beautiful views a person could ever see. We love to sit down by the beach at nighttime just staring out on the waters to see this event occur.
Let the Fun and Adventure Begin
For those looking for the time of their lives, as we were, you cannot imagine all the fun things there were to do there. The scuba diving was incredible, as you could rent virtually any kind of equipment you could want to go deep into the waters in and around the island. There were guides that could show you the best places to scuba dive, and instructors that can provide remedial lessons to help you start your scuba diving experience.
If you want to enjoy the water but aren’t as adventurous as scuba diving demands, there is always the option of snorkeling. This allows you to enjoy the waters more fully, but not a depth that may have you concerned.
The walks through the jungles are unbelievable. There are paths that allow you to view this jungle heaven close up, and you cannot imagine the incredible animals that we saw. Toucans, reptiles and insects of all shapes and sizes, and the plants were all just so beautiful. Of course, this isn’t called Monkey Island for nothing, and we got to see some incredible monkeys swinging through the trees and squawking back and forth to one another. It was so incredible.
A few days we walked alone together just taking in the jungle, but there are guides available. We took one of these tours one day and were amazed at all we learned. I learned things about these animals and insects that still astound me today, and the plants are still something Janice and I talk about today.
If you want to get around the island more quickly, there are bicycles you can rent, and over 30 km of dirt trails to follow. They take you all over, and are very safe to travel on.
There are also a series of islands around Koh Rong Island, so you can take a boat ride out and go from island to island. There are many tours that will take you island hopping, where you can see the sites and take in the shops, or you can rent a boat and do it yourself. The excitement truly never comes to an end.
The Amenities Will Win You Over
While all of this was enough to make for the most amazing honeymoon of all time, there was a lot more to Koh Rong Island that made this such an incredible adventure. The food was like nothing else. Fish was so fresh and the salads were something that is beyond words. The local cuisine would have made us gain 10 pounds under normal circumstances, but the biking and swimming kept that from happening.
Our hotel had a wellness center where we could exercise or take advantage of the massage and spa treatments available. These were also reasonably priced and made for the perfect end to a long walk to have our bodies massaged into a state of complete relaxation. My wife was at peace and her body felt so good, which was good if you know what I mean.
There were great beach bars that allowed us to sit out at night and watch the sun go down while we enjoyed a tropical drink from this island paradise. The bars had live bands so we could enjoy dancing on the beach. This was every movie I had ever seen rolled into one and I was loving every moment of it because it was all occurring with the love of my life.
Most of the staff understood that Americans would be the primary visitors there, so a good many of them spoke English. That made it easier to communicate, but they were also more than willing to share with us how to say a few words ourselves in Khmer. I learned to say hello (djumriabsua), good-bye (liasenhaoy), thank you (akun), and you’re welcome (som) among other things. The staff was always so nice and really made us feel at home.
Fun for the Whole Family
This was such a great adventure for us, and as we were there, we realized how perfect it would be as a family vacation. There was so much to do there and to enjoy no matter how old you were, and we knew that our kids would enjoy this so much as well.
Five years later, we brought the whole family. We found that the island was just as beautiful as we remembered it. Tourism had not changed it after five years, and it was everything we could have hoped for. Our kids had a great time, and got to have an adventure they could tell their kids about one day.
We are looking forward to the day when our kids have children of their own. Take the grandkids there? What a great idea!