With Sihanoukville being on a penisula there are numerous beaches to visit each with their own different qualities. Added to these are the beaches on the islands which pepper the horizon most of which are relatively undeveloped and offer that Robinson Crusoe experience.
The eight most notable beaches of Sihanoukville can all be reached in minutes from downtown Sihanoukville and each has its own particular charm and ambiance. Some are jam-packed with bars pumping out loud music into the wee hours of the night while others are quiet and serene. In 2010 three of the beaches in and around Sihanoukville were chosen by Forbes magazine as ‘Asia’s Best Beaches’ including Otres Beach, Ream National Park and Koh Rong Samloem.
Where the Beach Road meets the long expanse of sand that is Ochheuteal Beach lies Serendipity Beach. Although technically part of Ochheuteal Beach the first Western-owned businesses christened this area Serendipity and the name has stuck. Where Serendipity finishes and Ochheuteal begins is a matter for debate over many a sun-downer but it includes the area to the west of the Beach Road where you find pleasant bungalows lining the hillside with the ubiquitous beach bars serving cold beers and potent cocktails right on the shoreline. East of Beach Road you have a wider stretch of sand with beach bars providing sun-loungers and umbrellas. Being at the heart of the beach action this area is busy all year-round and many of the businesses stay open until the wee hours of the morning pumping out music for the mostly young tourist crowd that tend to populate this part of Sihanoukville.
The main and widest beach in Sihanoukville stretches for more than three kilometres from Serendipity Beach in the northwest down to the river and Queen’s Hill in the southeast. The end nearest town and Serendipity is the busiest with beach-side restaurants serving cool drinks and cheap food while also providing sun-loungers and umbrellas. As you progress down Ochheuteal Beach towards the river it gets noticably quieter until the beach restaurants give way to rough scrubland and Casaurina trees which once lined the entire beach. During Khmer hoildays and at Christmas and New Year this beach is jam-packed solid with Cambodians who have come down from Phnom Penh and the provinces greatly out-numbering the foreign tourists. This is also the haunt of most of the beach sellers peddling their wares and when someone shows an interest in buying something the scene quickly takes on the appearance of a feeding frenzy.
Located south-east of Sihanoukville, a ten minute moto or tuk-tuk ride away is the three kilometre stretch of sand known as Otres Beach. Up until two years ago this was an undeveloped beach with just a handful of beach shack restaurants spread along it’s length providing a peaceful solitude and a true tropical paradise. In 2010 Forbes Magazine published an article naming Otres Beach as one of the top 22 beaches in Asia and since then development has gone on apace including a new sealed road linking Otres with downtown Sihanoukville. Now there are numerous rooms and bungalows available for rent either on the beach or a stone’s throw away. A portion of the beach is now covered in sun-loungers and umbrellas and the previous stillness has been replaced by booming party music although towards the far end of the beach the original peaceful atmosphere is still available.
A kilometre of sand stretching south-east from the iconic Independence Hotel this thin stretch of sand is one of the best places for swimming in Sihanoukville. Hosting a small development of about a dozen brick-built beach shacks constructed towards the northern end of the beach which have seating raised up above the shoreline in the shade of the Casaurina trees plus sun-loungers and umbrellas actually on the beach itself. From here you are free to walk down the unspoilt beach with as yet undeveloped scrubland facing onto the beach and the occassional tree for shade until you reach the Holiday Palace Resort at the far southern end. This beach is a little-used gem and far away from the madding crowd.
Home to the five star Sokha Beach Resort this is an attractive crescent of wide white sand nestled between two rocky outcrops. The majority of the beach is zealously patroled by the Sokha Beach Resort guards although the far eastern end is open to everyone and is a favourite among young Khmer couples who arrive on motos to walk on the soft sand. There are no beach bars or restaurants in the public areas or any shade although you can use the expensive Sokha Resort beach bar for liquid refreshments. Also available for hire are their sun-lounger set beneath grass-thatch umbrellas where you can lie back and admire the cleanest beach in Sihanoukville.
Hawaii and Victory Beach
The small strip of sand clinging onto the most western tip of the peninsular which is home to Sihanoukville is called Hawaii Beach. Koh Puos dominates the line of sight from the northern end of the beach lying just 600m offshore and the bridge to Koh Puos towers above the channel seperating the island from the mainland. The beach is reached by climbing down from Treasure Island Seafood, the restaurant perched above on the rocky outcrop. On the beach itself are a few shacks selling food and drinks and there is plenty of shade offered up by the Causarina trees that line shore.
Hun Sen Beach
Situated between the Port and the Oil Depot is the beautiful Hun Sen Beach. If it wasn’t for its location this beach would rival any other beach in Sihanoukville with fine white sand and turquoise water. Undeveloped, this beach still has its lining of Casaurina trees and at most times is totally deserted. Open-sided concrete shelters dot the shoreline providing additional shade and a parking place for motos. There are no beach bars or restaurants here so if you visit take everything you will need with you.