Diving & Snorkeling
There are excellent diving opportunities around Sihanoukville and the surrounding islands. Reefs encrusted with coral are a feature of nearby islands, supporting an abundance of marine life including stingrays, moray eels, dolphins, and even the odd whale. The waters off Sihanoukville are warm (consistently 81°F-88°F/27°C-31°C) and though visibility can be quite low during the height of rainy season, in the diving season from October to June it ranges from 10 to 25m (33 -- 82 ft.). First-rate dive sites can be found around the islands such as Koh Rung Samloem and Koh Kon, all within a 2-hour boat journey. The very best sites are at Koh Tang, Koh Prins, and Condor Reef and are 4 to 6 hours away. There are now a number of dive shops in Sihanoukville, including those that are PADI authorized. In addition to organized dives they offer introductory courses for beginners. Most of the islands have uninhabited sandy beaches where divers can relax between outings.
Two hours away, Koh Rung Samloem is the best nearby island to Sihanoukville and can be done as day trip. The island is made up of a small fishing village, three principal beaches, and several minor ones, all of which are almost completely uninhabited, including some sheltered ones on the north side close to Koh Kon. Both islands feature rocky reefs and go to depths of 18m (59 ft.). As with all of the nearby islands, the best diving and visibility is on the west side. Koh Kon is a small island to the north of Koh Rung Samloem and is home to rocky, coral outcrops. Koh Tang, Koh Prins, and Poulou Wai to the southwest of Sihanoukville offer some of the best scuba diving waters in the area and take 4 to 8 hours to reach, requiring an overnight stay. The area has reefs with depths of 15 to 40m (49-131 ft.) and much better visibility than reefs closer to land. Koh Prins also has two shipwrecks to the northwest. Koh Tang was the scene of "Mayaguez Incident" in 1975 when American marines battled the Khmer Rouge to regain control of a captured ship and its crew -- the last American fight of the Indochina wars in which the U.S. Marine Corps suffered high casualties.?
The Dive Shop (road to Serendipity Beach near the Golden Lions; tel. 012/161-5517; www.diveshopcambodia.com) is a PADI Dive Center offering courses on Introductory Discover Scuba, PADI Open Water, Advanced Open Water, and Rescue and Dive Master. Other options include fun dives, overnight trips, and custom tours.
EcoSea Dive (225 Ekareach near Ochheuteal Beach and the Golden Lions; tel. 012/654-104; www.ecoseadive.com) is a dive center offering authorized PADI and SSI Dive Courses. EcoSea provides daily fun dives and $10 snorkeling on their custom dive boat. They also have beachside accommodations for divers and snorkelers on Koh Rung Samloem.
Scuba Nation PADI 5 Star Dive Center (Mohachai Guesthouse on Serendipity Beach Rd.; tel. 012/604-680; www.divecambodia.com) is Cambodia's first PADI five-star National Geographic Dive Center, offering daily trips and live-aboards to the islands, plus PADI dive courses in English and other languages. All dives include food, PADI diver insurance, and the only custom-made dive boats in Cambodia.
Fishing & Boat Trips
There are lots of angling opportunities in the waters around Sihanoukville. The best fishing is in the dry season when the weather is fair. A variety of game species swim in the local waters, including the much-prized barracuda. If you want to take a day trip, you can get a tourist boat right off of the beach, or you can arrange it through your guesthouse or a tour operator. Prices start at $6 to $10. The standard tour will take you to one to three islands for snorkeling, swimming, and lunch. The Fisherman's Den Sports Bar (downtown, alongside the Star Mart; tel. 034/933-997) offers fishing and other kinds of boat trips on a 16m (54-ft.) Western-style fishing boat with shower, toilet, wet bar, and all necessary equipment. The skipper is a very experienced professional fisherman from New Zealand.