A Week In Paradise At Lonely Beach, Cambodia / by Shane Henderson

DSCF7032.jpg

With our time in Southeast Asia drawing to a close, we wanted to get a little more beach time in. But not just any beach time, we wanted some gorgeous, white sand, hammocks, no-people, full-on Castaway beach time. And although there are some gorgeous beaches in Thailand, at this point it can be tough to find any that aren’t packed with fellow sun-seekers. A few people had recommended the Cambodian islands to us as an alternative, so we gave those a look-see. At first glance, they did seem a little less crowded but were still more developed than we were hoping for. Then we came across Lonely Beach, a small hotel located on the entirely undeveloped North Side of Koh Rong island. You can only reach it by taking a 3-hour ride on the hotel’s repurposed fishing boat. There are no roads, nothing within walking distance except a tiny local village, and there is no internet for guests. Perfect. We booked a room for 7 nights.

Our introduction to the island was not a pleasant one. It was a relatively long journey to get there from Phnom Penh, involving a 5-hour bus ride followed by a 3-hour ferry. So when we both started to feel a bit queasy upon arrival, we figured it was just a combination of not eating all day and a few hours at sea. Spoiler alert: we were wrong. Turns out that eating cheap shwarma the day before in Phnomh Penh had not been the best decision. We both spent our first night on the island evacuating the contents of our stomachs… from both ends. To make matters worse, our cute little jungalow didn’t have a bathroom, so we were using the shared bathroom, which was open-air and mosquito-filled. Let’s just say that it was a very, very long night.

While slowly recovering from our unpleasant first 24 hours, we began to venture outside our cabin and explore the hotel. It was more or less exactly what we had been imagining, a stunning stretch of beach and a smattering of tiny bungalows. There was a large, open air dining room serving a small menu of European and Cambodian fare all day, and a tiny little beach bar that opened at dusk and stayed open until everyone had stumbled back through the jungle to their cabins. The place is run by a group of friendly Europeans and a fluctuating number of backpackers who work in exchange for room and board. There isn’t much to do, which is exactly the appeal. The schedule of activities is basically: eat, lie on the beach, swim, snorkel, drink, repeat. Although you can hike to the nearby fishing village or take a little boat to the nearby reefs to dive, we were perfectly content to do absolutely nothing.

DSCF6808.jpg

Although we initially thought that traveling full time would lead to less time on our phones and computers, it has sadly not been the case. Along with this blog, social media, and keeping up with friends back home, we also spend countless hours researching the next stop of our travels, where to stay, what to see/do, what to eat etc. So, it was wonderful at Lonely Beach to disconnect for the week and just detox from technology. We left our phones and laptops untouched in the cabin for seven straight days. The lack of technology also fosters a nice sense of community among the guests. Although Anna and I are not great about going out of our way to meet other travelers, sharing meals at a table every night with the same people makes it pretty much impossible not to start up a conversation.  We ended up meeting some fascinating people and came away with a million recommendations to add to our travel bucket list.

Lonely Beach may not be ideal for everyone. It is tough to get to, extremely quiet, and far from luxurious. The bungalows come with their share of bugs and critters, and the only showers are buckets of cold water. But if that doesn’t bother you, and if lying in a hammock in the shade of the palm trees for 8 straight hours while sipping dollar beers sounds like your idea of a perfect day, then we definitely recommend checking it out!