Koh Rong Samloem Beaches: The ULTIMATE Guide + Secret Spots (2020)

stick figure with a snorkel mask on saracen bay, one of the best Koh Rong Samloem beaches in Cambodia
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If you travel to Cambodia, you HAVE to come visit the Koh Rong Samloem beaches. 

Seriously guys. DO. NOT. MISS. THESE!

These beaches are what I imagine some of the overcrowded islands of Thailand were like 20 years ago.

We’ve been living on Saracen Bay on the little island of Koh Rong Samloem for almost three months now, and it has been like heaven on earth (well, minus the power cuts, poisonous snakes, scorpions, and killer buffalo).

Thanks to all the time we’ve been here, we now know the entire island like the back of our hand. We’ve been fortunate enough to visit ALL the best beaches on Koh Rong Samloem, including some secret spots that 99% of tourists never make it to.

To our surprise, MOST of the information you find online is outdated. This island has seen so many changes over the past few years that most of what you read is no longer accurate. This post is about to change that. 

Today I want to share with you all the insider knowledge we’ve gathered.

In this post, you’ll get…

  • An overview of every beach on the island (including a slick video)
  • Which ones are must sees and which ones you can skip (this might go contrary to what you’ve heard)
  • How to get to each one 
  • Tips for enjoying them to the max

For other tips you’ll deffo wanna know when visiting the island, check out my ultimate Koh Rong Samloem guide—the most comprehensive KRS resource on the interwebs.

Let’s dive in!

NOTE: Due to the rapid development of the island, I’ve made some local friends who have agreed to help me keep this post up-to-date. If you visit the island and discover any inaccuracies, be sure to let me know!

The Koh Rong Samloem Beaches Directory

Ok guys, I’ve made this handy Koh Rong Samloem map and table to keep this as organized as possible. Simply click on whichever beach you’d like to learn about in the table (or just read through them all 😉)

Koh rong samloem map of beaches
#BeachAwesomenessEase of AccessQuick Notes
1Long Beach⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Connected to M'Pay Bay village
2Clear Water Bay⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Plans to build a big resort here - see it while you can!
3Saracen Bay⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Beautiful white beach (during high tide). Pricier accommodation.
4Sandy Beach⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️More private beach with 3 resorts.
5Romny Cozy Bay⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Resort construction in progress. Lots of trash. Has potential.
6Military Beach⭐️⭐️⭐️Potential to be gorgeous, but nobody there to clean trash that washes up.
7Lazy Beach⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Great beach, but doesn't deserve it's rank as one of the top beaches in the world.
8Sunset Beach⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Our fav beach on the island. Don't miss it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep in mind that the gorgeous-ness of these beaches HIGHLY depends on (1) how sunny it is and (2) how high the tides are:

Cloudy and low tide = 👎😒

Sunny and high tide = 👍😍

Long Beach

Long Beach near M'Pay Bay on Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
Long Beach on a cloudy, low-tide day

Long beach is—you guessed it—a very long beach connected to the village of M’Pay Bay.

This is the best beach for those staying in the village who don’t want to take the trip all the way to Clear Water Bay.

Other than a few bungalows dotted along the beach, there’s nothing here but a long stretch of sand (plenty of space to spread out).

Also, if you head to Long Beach on a nice dark night (ideally when there isn’t much moon), you can swim with bioluminescent plankton.

How to get to M’Pay Bay: Take a ferry from Serendipity Pier in Sihanoukville. If you will be traveling to Sihanoukville from a different city in Cambodia, buy a combo ticket that includes Bus + Tuk Tuk + Ferry. It’s not only WAY more convenient, but it also ended up costing us half as much as paying separately. 

How to get to Long Beach: Just walk straight out of the village along the coast. It takes 5 minutes and is impossible to get lost.

Where to stay in M’Pay Bay: You can’t go wrong with Beach House Cambodia. We stayed here and were not disappointed.

Clear Water Bay

Crystal clear waters at Clear Water Bay (AKA Driftwood Beach) on Koh rong Samloem island, Cambodia
Clear water bay on a cloudy day

Clear Water Bay is one of the best beaches on Koh Rong Samloem.

…but who knows how long it will stay that way.

Up until recently, this was a virgin beach with no development. It has soft white sand and calm, crystal clear waters.

However, now there is a bunch of construction going on there. Apparently some Chinese investors want to build a huge hotel and overwater bungalows here, which would ruin the quiet seclusion of this place.

It seems like the project is going ahead full steam, but other resort owners told me it is illegal to build multi-story hotels on the island…so who knows what will happen.

All I can say is, try to get here before things change!

When you go, make sure to bring plently of water and snacks as you’ll be at least an hour’s hike away from any shops or restaurants. If you’re desperate, I hear locals living on the pier sell beer from their cooler…

…but it’s the same cooler they store all their fish in .

How to get to Clearwater Bay: There are two main ways to get from M’Pay Bay to Clear Water Bay…
1.) Pay a boat taxi ~$5/person
2.) Walk to the end of Long Beach and take the jungle path at the end (see above video for directions, it’s kinda confusing). Wear shoes.

Saracen Bay

Saracen Bay is where we called home for over two months. After living here, I’m pretty sure it’s going to forever ruin “normal” beaches for us.

It has some of the whitest sand and clearest blue waters I’ve ever seen.

white sand and blue waters on Saracen Bay Beach on Koh Rong Samloem island, Cambodia
Sunny Day in Saracen

BUUUTTT…

This blog is about giving you the good AND the bad so you can make informed decisions. Here’s a reality check:

It doesn’t look like this all the time.

During high tide, it’s spectacular. Prettiest beach I’ve ever seen. But during low tide (which for us was 80% of the time April-June), it’s much less pretty. The water recedes far out, exposing “dirty” brown/green sand underneath.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s still nice. But don’t expect it to look like Maldives 24/7.

cloudy day with low tide on Saracen Beach, Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
Saracen bay on a cloudy and rainy day

After interviewing some resort owners, I discovered that the beach looks WAY different depending on the time of year. They say in November, tides are super high and the beach practically “disappears”. In February, Sarecen is at it’s best (only pure white sand showing). 

That said, no matter what time of year you come, you’re gonna have a blast.

Saracen Bay is a long beach lined with bungalows. It’s more expensive to stay here than on M’Pay Bay (especially during high season when prices can double), but you’ll have easier access to exploring the rest of the island.

If you’re only planning to visit the island for a couple days, you want to stay connected, and your budget allows it—Saracen Bay is the best beach to stay in Koh Rong Samloem.

How to get to Saracen Bay: Take a ferry from Serendipity Pier in Sihanoukville. If you will be traveling to Sihanoukville from a different city in Cambodia, buy a combo ticket that includes Bus + Tuk Tuk + Ferry. It’s not only WAY more convenient, but it also ended up costing us half as much as paying separately.

Where to stay on Saracen Bay: The most popular spot for solo budget travelers is definitely Onederz Hostel (check current prices). For couples or budget travelers who want the privacy of their own bungalow, Paradise Villas is a great option (check current prices). If you’re looking to splurge, you won’t be disappointed at The One Resort (check current prices).

Lazy Beach

Unlike Saracen Bay, Lazy Beach has golden brown sand with turquoise green waters.

National Geographic once listed it as one of the top 21 beaches in the world.

If we’re being honest, that’s a stretch (a beach in England also made the top 21, so take it with a grain of salt).

It’s a great beach. But don’t set your expectations too high.. 

The good thing is, Lazy Beach is just a quick 25-minute walk from Saracen Bay. So even if you’re short on time, you can make a quick visit. 

At the time of writing, this is a very chill beach you won’t have to share with many people (you may even have it all to yourself). However, they are in the process of connecting Saracen to Lazy Beach with a paved road. And once that happens, you better believe it’ll be busier.

Currently Lazy Beach Resort is the only establishment on the beach that offers rustic beachside bungalows and a delicious restaurant. 

There’s no wifi here, so if you’re looking for a place to completely disconnect, this is one of the best beaches on Koh Rong Samloem to do it.

Check out my epic Lazy Beach guide to discover:

  • Alternate hiking itineraries to get there (that are more fun and adventurous than the typical route). 
  • Secret spots to explore in the nearby jungle
  • Tips for the perfect trip

How to get to Lazy Beach: Take the paved path next to Octopussy Bar on Saracen Bay and walk straight for 25 minutes until you get there. (Or follow one of my more adventurous hikes in my Lazy Beach guide above). This can be done in sandals, but shoes are easier.

Where to stay on Lazy Beach: Lazy Beach Resort

Sunset Beach

I thought Sunset Beach was even more beautiful than Lazy Beach. It was cleaner, the water was greener, and the sand was softer.

Beautiful girl on the stunning Sunset beach on Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

There are a handful of accommodations on the beach though, so it might be a little busier than Lazy Beach. (On the other hand, it’s also slightly harder to get to, so maybe that cancels things out).

When we went, we had the place practically to ourselves.

To celebrate my birthday, we stayed overnight glamping in Sunset Beach at Robinson Bungalows. Definitely recommended if you have time. (Although the tents were wicked hot at night, so maybe a bungalow would be better).

Koh Rong samloem glamping on Sunset Beach at Robinson Bungalows

There is no wifi on Sunset Beach.

How to get to Sunset Beach: Start at the main Orchid Pier on Saracen Bay (looking at the beach) and take a right. Walk to the dive center next to a lime green building. Walk behind the dive center to find the path. Once on the path, walk straight for 35 minutes. Near the end, you’ll have to climb a hill, then descend. You’ll want shoes for this one. If you’re staying in one of the resorts, you may be able to arrange a ferry directly from Sihanoukville.

Where to stay on Sunset Beach: Out of the four accommodation options on the beach, we chose Robinson Bungalows (check prices here) because it’s location is a bit more exclusive and private. Other options are Sunboo, Sleeping Tree, and Huba Huba.

Sandy Beach

Sandy Beach is a smaller, more private beach off in it’s own little world on the far east coast of the island.

Walking on Sandy Beach, Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
We took the one hour jungle hike to get here, but only stayed 15 minutes because it looked stormy 😕

Compared to Saracen Bay and M’Pay Bay, Sandy Beach has a bit of an exclusive feel. It’s somewhat cut off from the rest of the island and only has three resorts on the beach.

Unlike most of the other beaches (minus Clear Water Beach), you can see the skyscrapers of Sihanoukville from Sandy Beach. This gives it a bit of a less “remote island in the middle of nowhere” vibe.

There is also a small, surprisingly quaint and colorful local village behind sandy beach. When they finish all the construction projects they have going on, it’ll be a pretty little town.

How to get to Sandy Beach: The only way to Sandy Beach is via boat taxi or poorly marked jungle trek. Naturally, we opted for the trek. To get there, walk to the far end of Saracen Bay until you reach Jungle Bay Eco Lodge. Walk to the end of the resort to find the Sandy Beach path (You might have to hunt—the sign was broken laying on the ground when we went). Follow the poorly marked path to the best of your judgement until you reach a huge random wall in the middle of the jungle. Walk around the wall, then climb up the giant rock hill on the other side (no flip-flops, please!). Once you reach the top, start walking down the other side until you see the village. Walk through the village to get to the beach.

Where to stay on Sandy Beach: For backpackers and partiers, check out Bodega Hostel (check prices here). For everyone else, Tube Resort looks super nice (check prices here).

Military Beach

Military Beach (AKA Navy Beach) on Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

People call this beach “Military Beach” or “Navy Beach” because there is a small military base on it (i.e. some bungalows with soldiers living in them). In reality, the beach has no name.

Military Beach has the potential to be a stunning getaway, far from the touristy parts of the island.

Unfortunately, since there are no resorts on the beach, there is nobody to clean up the trash that washes up on shore. 

And let me tell you…it’s like a landfill. It’s sad to see.

trash on Military Beach on Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

If you’re looking for a good spot for a beautiful beach day, I wouldn’t recommend Military Beach.

However, if you’re looking for an adventurous trek around the island, the lighthouse ➡ Military Beach ➡ Lazy Beach hiking itinerary (that I’m pretty sure I invented), it is totally worth it. Check out this Koh Rong Samloem secret trek video to learn how to do it.

How to get to Military Beach: Walk to the south end of Saracen Bay. When you reach Dolphin Resort, take the road up the hill into the jungle. Keep going straight until you reach an intersection with a sign in Khmer on the right. If you downloaded the offline map on Google Maps (which you should) this point is called “Tri-Beach Junction”. Take a right (under the sign) and continue until you reach the coast. Then walk along the coast to the right. It’ll take a little over an hour to get there.

Romny Cozy Bay Beach (AKA Homestead Beach)

rustic Romby Cozy Bay Beach with some trash on it
Small and rustic—once they clean up the trash, this could be a nice secluded escape

Romny Cozy Bay Beach is a small beach on the east coast of the island.

At the time of writing, they are in the process of building a resort here.

Similar to Military Beach, since the resort isn’t finished and there no tourists there, nobody takes the time to clean up the trash that constantly washes up on shore. 

Without trash, this would be a cool little beach. Who knows, maybe when the resort opens, they’ll keep it clean and it’ll be worth a visit.

Either way, if you’re hiking to the lighthouse, it’s worth a quick pit stop because you’ll be walking right past it.

How to get to Romny Cozy Bay Beach: On the south end of Saracen Beach, take the path up into the jungle at Dolphin Resort. Continue for 15 minutes until you see a sign for the beach on the left.

“Mystery” Beach

mystery beach with question marks
Who’s gonna be the first person to explore this place?

Ok I lied. There is ONE beach I didn’t make it to. It wouldn’t be fair for me to go and spoil all the island’s secrets for you, now would it? You’ll have to go on an adventure and discover it for yourself!

This beach has no name, no signs, and no directions to get there. The only reason I know it even exists is from chatting with locals. (Apparently they’re in the process of building a resort there as well).

I have no clue what the beach looks like. It might be the most stunning beach on Koh Rong Samloem, or it might be a trash pit. That’s for you to find out! 

How to get to Mystery Beach: To get there, you take the path to the lighthouse. Once you get to the “Tri-Beach Junction” marker on Google maps, you take a LEFT (if you take a RIGHT, you’ll end up at Military Beach).

What to Pack for Koh Rong Samloem Beaches

No matter which beaches on Koh Rong Samloem you choose to visit, here are some items you’ll want to take with you:

Bug Spray – A lot of these beaches have pesk sandflies (although it seems to depend on the weather). I’m a big fan of this 100% DEET spray, but I hear coconut oil works as well. You can buy spray on the island, but it’ll probably cost you double.

Sunscreen – The sun in Cambodia is INTENSE. Protect yourself unless you wanna be a raisin face when you’re older.

Hat – Also helps prevent premature face raisining.

Water – It’s a good idea to always have water with you. Some of the remote beaches don’t have any shops, and you’re gonna be sweating your nuts off.

Snacks – Bonus points if you buy your snacks before getting to the island. Everything costs twice as much here.

GoPro or (cheap alternative) – The water photo opps here are insane!

Kindle – A lot of these rustic, wifi-less beaches are perfect for getting lost in a new book.

Headlamp – When you get lost in the jungle, it gets dark, and your phone is dead from all your photoshoots, you’ll be glad you packed it.

Best Beaches in Cambodia Recap

Koh Rong Samloem (and her bigger sister, Koh Rong) are home to the best beaches in Cambodia. 

Not all of them are perfect (thanks to the trash that washes up on shores), but most of them will blow your mind.

If you’re planning a trip to Cambodia, do not skip these islands. The beaches are developing fast, but they still feel somewhat undiscovered by the masses (for now). 

Come while they still have their rustic charm, you won’t regret it!

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pictures of koh rong samloem beaches with text overlay epic beach guide koh rong samloem

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