Today I’m sitting in my mosquito net-covered bunk bed in a shack over the sea on stilts. I can see the jade-colored water through the cracks in the floorboards and each time I look down, I’m reminded that I’m in paradise.
Just outside the dorm door, I’ll be greeted by the calm, flat, and intensely blu-ish green waters off the Gulf of Thailand. Sometimes the water is so flat, it looks like quicksilver.
At night, when the generators turn off and the beach goes dark, the bioluminescence in the water covers my hands and glows a beautiful blue. When I swim, it looks like glitter is following me.
This is life on the island of Koh Rong in Cambodia, and it is paradise.
I ended up here completely by happenstance. The Dive Shop Cambodia was kind enough to bring me out here, take me on two truly amazing SCUBA dives, and show me what a true island paradise is.
For an avid SCUBA diver, there is no destination that is off the bucket list.
Cambodia was one of the places I had to try out. As soon as I heard there was diving on offer here, I knew I had to check it out.
This morning started bright and early with a quick tuk-tuk journey over from Otres Beach to Sihanoukville, followed by a two-hour boat ride from Sihanoukville to the beautiful island of Koh Rong. The waters were calm, so the ride was easy and enjoyable (though rough waters, in my opinion, are a fun way to ride a boat as well- as long as they let me stand in the front of the boat where I can really feel the power of the waves).
We pulled up to the dive shop and I could hardly believe my eyes: it was a wooden structure on stilts over the calm water. There was nothing but amazing vistas from every angle of the deck.
After a quick briefing it was time to climb back onto the boat and get in the water. It had been a couple of years since my last dive (mostly due to my shoulder injury), so I was raring to get back in. Just being back in the water after going for so long without felt amazing.
To be completely submerged, surrounded by beautiful coral, squids, the rare razor-backed shrimp and all of the unique sea cucumbers and bright fish made me the happiest clam in the water.
What’s more, the water here is so warm, I didn’t even need a wetsuit – a real treat since that sticky foam tightness is far, far from what I desire wearing.
The salty water turns from jade green to an aquamarine blue as we descend deeper to the reefs. I can see so much farther in front of my face than I ever could in California waters.
All around me are black sea urchins, their glowing yellow and blue eyes suspiciously checking me out as I hover above them. Every now and then, I spot a yellow and pink striped fish, followed by a rainbow blue one.
I wish I knew the names of them, but it wouldn’t make a difference. I’d still call them the-super-cool-yellow-pink-and-blue-fishies-I-saw-that-one-time-in-Cambodia.
Diving here, as it turns out, is quite amazing. Who knew? I’m constantly astounded and blown away by what this country has to offer.
Besides, as a traveler, I feel the need to see what’s under the water just as much as what’s above it. It’s an entirely new world and I want to explore the whole of it.
Special thanks are due to Dennis and The Dive Shop Cambodia, which made this an amazing experience for me. I may have never had the chance to experience Koh Rong and its amazing underwater world otherwise, and that would have been a crying shame.
It was a truly special dive, and an absolutely perfect way to spend a day.
*All photos are courtesy of Dennis at The Dive Shop Cambodia, which graciously sponsored my dive. Opinions of the dive are my own.