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If I haven’t already convinced you to visit the beautiful Cambodian island Koh Rong, you’ll be packing your bags after this post.
This winter I spent a few days in Cambodian island paradise, cut off from the internet, technology and sometimes electricity! On my last full day, my newfound friends and I decided to make the trek to Long Beach, a stunning white sand beach on the opposite side of the island.
We met in the late morning to grab cheap Vietnamese sandwiches for lunch. With our food packed and ready to go, we set out on the hike through the jungle to Long Beach.
Hiking Through the Jungle
The hike started out easy enough, but soon we were actually rock climbing through the jungle. By rock climbing, I mean lowering myself down steep rocky cliffs with a rope. Let’s just say tote bags and flip-flops are a bad idea. Had I known, I definitely would have brought a backpack.
To get a better idea, here’s a quick video:
That said, it was a pretty fun adventure, and the sweaty hike made it all the more sweet when we finally glimpsed the perfect beach.
Long Beach: The Perfect Beach
Even in high season, Long Beach was practically empty! We had almost the whole beach to ourselves. Besides, the beach was huge, so if we wanted to get away from the fifteen other people we shared the beach with, a ten-minute walk would get us away from the non-existent crowd.
I stepped onto the soft white sand, so fine it crunched like snow under my feet. I’m not kidding! The only difference? I normally don’t traipse through the snow barefoot in a bikini.
Seriously, this was the best beach I visited on my whole Southeast Asia trip.
While the sand was great, I couldn’t help but run headfirst into the crystal blue water.
My friends and I spent the afternoon alternating between swimming and sunbathing. A few hours in, I decided to do some snorkeling with my GoPro in and amongst the rocks. It was my first time using my GoPro underwater, and part of me was really scared the waterproof casing wouldn’t work. Thankfully, my GoPro wasn’t ruined and I was able to take some fun underwater videos.
Sea Urchin Attacks!
Unfortunately for me, about five minutes into my snorkel, a wave pushed me back into a rock, and my foot was attacked by a sea urchin! If you haven’t already read the whole story, it was pretty awful and resulted in me getting surgery on my foot to get the leftover pieces out back in China… oh and I got blood poisoning.
Despite this painful encounter, I was determined not to let a sea urchin spoil my day. Once the locals told me it wasn’t an emergency, I decided to wait until the evening to talk to the doctor. Who knew all I had to do was pee all over my foot and the spines would’ve come right out?
Lesson learned. Pee on everything.
That, and buy travel insurance.
Spectacular Long Beach Sunsets
After an afternoon of swimming, sunbathing and sea urchin disasters, it was time to watch the sunset. Somehow over the last hour or so, the beach had filled with eager spectators. The sunsets on Koh Rong’s Long Beach are legendary, so I can understand why people would make the hike for a beautiful photo.
Coming from Seattle, not many sunsets rival ours in the summer. Koh Rong was the first time I had ever seen a sunset as beautiful as the ones I see from my porch at home (The second time was in Koh Tao!)
After a spectacular sunset, my friends and I climbed aboard a boat to see the sparkling plankton! We had to wade out into the water with our bags over our heads to climb aboard. I was so scared I was going to drop my tote bag or my phone would fall out! I guess I should invest in a waterproof bag or at least a tote bag that closes shut.
Sparkling Plankton on Koh Rong
Once we got to the boat, we sailed around to the side of the island, where there were no lights aside from the stars. We waited until it was completely dark when the captain told us to jump in.
The group of us leapt into the water, which was pretty chilly at this point. But we didn’t mind when we saw the water glitter and sparkle as we waved our hands through the water.
The swimming amongst Koh Rong’s bioluminescent plankton can only be described as “magical”. I honestly felt like I was in James Cameron’s Avatar. The plankton reacts to movement and lights up when you swirl the water with your hands or feet. The longer we stayed, the more sparkly the water became!
One of the best ideas we had was to test out my snorkeling mask underwater. We all took turns putting on the mask and spinning around in a spiral underwater. It was like a glittering sparkle tornado! If you go to Koh Rong, be sure to bring a mask and try this out for yourself. Everyone was really glad I brought mine!
The only downside? The plankton BITE you. Yeah, I’m not kidding. It feels like a little
Yeah, I’m not kidding. It feels like a little zap. But to be honest, the experience was so incredible, I didn’t even care! The bites got more and more intense until it got to the point where there was about one or two every second. At that point, the captain turned on his lights and called us all back on the boat. Noooo! Don’t make me!!
Back to the Koh Rong Main Beach
Once we were all aboard, we powered back to the main beach. While I was soaking wet and freezing, and my foot hurt like hell, I couldn’t wipe a smile off my face. Who swims in magical sparkling water (that bites you)? How is that even a thing?!
After a quick pit-stop at the doctor (who gave me horrible advice and told me to leave the sea urchin spines in my foot), I
ran limped back to my bungalow room to take a quick shower and change for dinner.
Koh Rong Beach BBQ!
The group of us met again for a great final meal: BBQ on the beach! I ordered the pork belly and it was absolutely incredible! I was also really excited about the garlic bread, which I hadn’t had in who knows how long. The meal was absolutely fantastic, incredibly cheap for how authentic it was, and the restaurant even had a cheap happy hour!
Drinks in hand, we ended the night chatting, watching the waves lap the shore.
Despite the sea urchin disaster, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect travel day.
Heading to Koh Rong? Be sure to read my Koh Rong island tips before you go!