By: Alexandria Baiz × Vaughn Lowery
Cameron Michael Parkes was born in Vancouver, Canada (in British Columbia). He graduated from the University of Calgary, majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in petroleum. While working at a consulting firm, the oil prices dropped and he used his severance package to travel the world.
Throughout his two year journey in Southeast Asia, he found himself at Koh Rong Samloem – a small island just off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Two main places to stay are Saracen Bay (dense more modern filled with tourists) or Mpei Bay (rustic village area with tons of locals). After a few weeks in both places, Cameron decides to trench through the hot and sticky jungle (with snakes, wild monkeys and insects) to the most desolate yet serene part of the island, Sunset Beach. He quickly becomes acquainted with paradise and decides to plant his feet at Huba-Huba where he enjoys perfect sunsets with unobstructed sea views.
After a brief trip to Sri Lanka, he returns to Huba-Huba to discover that the owner’s husband had passed in a tragic motorcycle accident. The widow offered to sell and Cameron decided to purchase. Looking back he says, “I like the beach-jungle vibe which isn’t perfect. I love this spot. Right on the beach, beautiful bay, monkeys come around, geckos.”
Situated at the end of the beach, it contains 4 bungalows, 1 family bungalow, 4 private double rooms and 1 dorm – 8 beds and 3 tents. Their kitchen is armed with one of the best cooks on the entire island. Their “BBQ Nights” serve up sensational samplers of pork ribs, tofu, prawns and chicken. Polite waitstaff, heavy handed mixologists and free painting station where you can repurpose instruments as well as pieces of wood to build a sculpture from scratch. Snorkeling gear is available for rental.
Sleeping Trees owned by Yves Chalot
Yves (a notable bartender from Brittany) came to Sunset Beach as a dive instructor and fell in love. One day after speaking with his bosses, he discovers a beachfront property for rent. Then he invites his brother (a carpenter) and they decided to erect ‘Sleeping Trees.’ The name derived from only having tree tents and the idea of ‘sleep in’ trees arose. The vacation area has two newly renovated bungalows, four tipis and four tree tents. Each space can accommodate up to two people. In addition, there’s a 4-room dorm which can host eight. At the present moment, both owners want to focus on better gardening and overall aesthetics of the property. Best attributes are their crepes, homemade rum shots and Reggae Night on Saturdays.
Sebastian Straub, former social worker in Switzerland, has now owned the property for 5 years alongside of his wife Julia. Their location is pet-friendly and includes 7 bungalows and 7 tipis. Each bungalow is constructed from wood with straw rooves perfect for a cozy and tropical stay. Their reimaginged family bungalow or ‘Cozy Kikki Lu’ is an ideal choice for guests seeking modern-like amenities. Tents make for a perfect glamping experience since they’re about thirty feet from the ocean. We enjoyed soaking up the sun in one of the 20 hammocks on the premises. Take advantage of the full bar and $1 beers during happy hour. The onsite restaurant takes advantage of seasonal local produce and fresh catches when possible. Our favorite menu items were the English breakfast, hearty fruit bowls, red snapper and barbecued pork & chicken skewer. You may enjoy meals upstairs (two-stories high) in an outdoor covered dining patio and/or at the beach bar. Every morning, a taxi boat for guests cost $10 to go to the city and is easily accessible.
Karlo and Parisa Zahipour Moarefi both came from Austria, borrowed money from friends and invested in Sunboo. There are 6 Bungalows and a dorm with 8 beds. The beach or garden bungalows have ceiling fans and newly renovated bathrooms and sinks. With a strong Italian influence, everyday dining is delightful. For breakfast they make french toast, pancakes, crispy bacon and homemade baguettes. For lunch fresh gnocchi, burgers and triple fried french fries. The dinner menu is westernized with our favorite thin crust pizza. And of course the Sunboo beach bar is the party area where we sip and socialize. One of the only establishments which serve wine on Sunset Beach.
They offer a full array of outdoor activities on the island with two locations – Saracen Bay and Sunset Beach. We took their half-day diving class (for all levels) and their master instructors were extremely attentive. The rock climbing experience offers amazing views of the sea. Kayaking trips are a must-try with a guide to discover the wonderful island and underwater world. The most intriguing activity on the island is the nighttime plankton tour which allows one to witness and capture their bioluminescence.
A private tropical hideaway on Koh Rong Samloem. The vacation area has 1 private beach, 22 bungalows and 1 guest house. The wooden bungalows all have two large double beds, en-suite bathrooms and a spacious balcony offering waters edge views of the warm tropical ocean. Paddle boarding is one of the most popular activities to do, but also board games, snorkeling and dive sites. The infamous bar is a must visit with the number one drink being the ‘Bahama Mama.’ All sorts of signature drinks like brown and white rum malibu, grenadine and juices. This private beach getaway is breathtaking.
The most amazing experience on the island and also its highest point. We recommend you take a taxi boat to the drop-off or trail which leads up to the lighthouse. Rumored to have been an old military watch tower, the views are spectacular. Be prepared to climb at least 7 to 8 stories to the top. The smell inside the lighthouse is a tad overwhelming and rancid. Be willing to pay at least $1-3 USD for the private tour. That price does not include the taxi boat.