Blessed with pristine ocean on its doorstep, Sihanoukville is the place to go for all water activities or just plain chilling. The sandy stretches of Cambodian coastline are ideal for that relaxing holiday, while the more adventurous have no shortage of options for diving, snorkelling, fishing, sailing trips and island stopovers.
Diving trips from Sihanoukville
The waters off the coast of Sihanoukville offer some of the best snorkelling and diving anywhere in the Gulf of Thailand. With dozens of coral-fringed islands, excellent visibility and an abundance of marine life including dolphins, morays, stingrays and even the odd whale, the region is rated highly for its concentration of underwater sights.
The nicest nearby dive sites are around Koh Kon and Koh Rung Samloem, both of which are just two hours away by boat, while the best diving is found on Condor Reef, Koh Prins and Koh Tang, up to six hours away – making for perfect live overnight adventures which include accommodation either onboard or at island bungalows.
The best time to dive is between October and June, outside of the rainy season which can cloud the waters, and visibility reaches up to 25 meters. The waters are consistently warm (27 – 31°C) and fairly shallow, with most around 15 meters in depth. As a rule, diving on the west of the islands is best and the most sheltered. There are a large number of quality, certified dive operators in Sihanoukville (listed below) which offer all manner of trips, courses and rental equipment for beginners to experts.
Koh Rung Samloem: The most popular island for short trips, this island has a number of pristine, untouched beaches and a charming little fishing village. The reefs surrounding the island play host to cuttlefish, stingrays, giant crabs, barracuda, octopus, moray eels and a wild selection of nudibranch.
Koh Kon (Baby Island): Lying just off the tip of the northern end of Koh Rung Samloem, Koh Kon has poorer visibility but livelier action that it’s bigger neighbour. The south and west reefs host snapper, goat fish, parrot fish and even playful cat sharks.
Koh Prins, Koh Tang, Poulou Wai: The best diving locations in the area sit southwest of Sihanoukville and take anywhere up to eight hours to reach, making an overnight trip almost essential. The isolated region, around 60kms from the shore, has wonderful visibility, usually up to 30 meters. Koh Tang is the favoured choice for serious divers, while the two shipwrecks near Koh Prins attract both adventure and history buffs due to its role in the battle between Khmer and US forces in 1975 following the ‘Mayaguez Incident’, of which the scars can still be seen.
Scuba diving centres in Sihanoukville
Angkor Dive: Offering PADI courses in multiple languages and visiting exclusive dive sites, Angkor Dive also specialise in underwater photography. Customised, live aboard vessel which sits offshore at Koh Tang or Koh Rung Samleom, complemented by private Bungalows at M’Pay Bay Resort. A donation from every customer goes to Marine Conservation Cambodia.
The Dive Shop: Offering all PADI courses from learner taster sessions to Dive Masters, overnight live aboard trips, island accommodation, tailored tours and rental equipment.
Scuba Nation: Cambodia’s diving founders, with a full range of expert tours and trips in addition to high quality PADI courses and equipment services, along with a Phnom Penh training centre. Also features the Cambodia’s finest custom-designed diving boat.
EcoSea Dive: Year-round operator which features multilingual SSI and PADI courses, daily dive trips and live aboard adventures on a customised boat. Also provides beachside accommodation for snorkelling and diving trips.
Watersports in Sihanoukville
Along Ochheuteal Beach there are a number of independent operators with jet skies that you can jump on for a quick foray around the headland, and the occasional giant inflatable banana ride for the kids. On Otres Beach both Golden Sunset and Otres Nautica offer equipment rental for kayaking and sailing.
Golden Sunset Beach Restaurant: Featuring hourly or daily kayak rental, including kayaking/ snorkelling trips to nearby Koh Chaluh Island. Also organise camping and boat trips.
Otres Nautica: Sihanoukville’s only dedicated sailing club, with reasonable prices and an emphasis on family fun. Offering lasers, catamarans, small sail boats, multi-person kayaks and even speed boats for fishing trips.
Boat and fishing trips from Sihanoukville
Keen anglers will find plenty of fishing opportunity in the waters around Sihanoukville, with barracuda the tastiest catch. Some locals have even reported catching marlin. Several operators run day trips or longer adventures with live aboard or island accommodation options.
Sankeor Boat Trips: Specialising in leisure cruises and fishing trips aboard a traditional Cambodian boat. Daily and multiple-day adventures a specialty, including Koh Kong and Koh Sdach. US$30 all-inclusive day tours.
Sun-Tours: A luxurious, fully-stocked motorised yacht specialising in two or three day island-hopping journeys, both around Sihanoukville and further afield to the likes of Koh Prins and Koh Tang. Onboard facilities include sumptuous cabins with ensuite, bar, restaurant, sun bathing area and all the trimmings. Day trips from US$25.
Tradewinds Charters & Sihanoukville Fishing: Run by Brian from the Fisherman’s Den Sports Bar, the boat trips on the 54ft vessel with all modern facilities are some of Sihanoukville’s most popular.
Ream National Park
Officially known as Preah Sihanouk National Park, the area is more commonly referred to as Ream due to the local community. The park covers over 21,000 hectares of coastal land, including two islands (Koh Thmei and Koh Seh), mangrove forests, sandy beaches, superb diving and snorkelling and also the Prek Tuk Sap estuary. Home to such animals as pangolins, dolphins, deer, macaques and the rare sun bear, Ream can be explored through a number of tours from Sihanoukville, most of which are half day.
Overnight treks are also available, and a number of guides with dubious English skills hang around the park entrance office if you make your own way there.