A well-kept secret, the coral reefs surrounding the idyllic islands or ‘Kohs’ off Sihanoukville remain pristine. Whether you’re new to diving or feel at home under the sea, this is an exceptional location.
The tropical waters that bathe the white sandy beaches of Sihanoukville are teeming with all kinds of marine life, from the elusive seahorse to the majestic whale shark, psychedelic starfish to coral of all shapes, sizes and colours, the biodiversity in the bay of Cambodia is simply astonishing.
The richness of this natural environment alone is reason enough to suit up and dive into the crystal clear aquamarine waters. But diving enthusiasts will find the Kingdom has much more to offer, including excellent subaquatic conditions: the waters around the countless paradisiacal islands that dot the bay are warm, ranging between 27 to 31 degree celsius, with a visibility of 10 to 25 metres on good days.
And whereas other countries in the region are already on the map, the bay is an ideal diving spot because it’s still largely unexplored, making it a treasure trove for avid frogmen in search of new sites. Moreover, unlike other diving hubs in the region such as Thailand’s southern islands, Cambodia’s coast isn’t swarming with hordes of water sports aficionados. It retains a relatively low profile and attracts only a moderate number of visitors. And as far as prices go, they are in line with the rest of the region but the level of professionalism and quality of diving available here make rates very agreeable.
The official website for The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) makes mention of three “great dives” to be had in Sihanoukville. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Saloem are two islands surrounded by such sites, and with an incredible range of marine diversity. Koh Kon, a smaller island located between Koh Rong and Koh Rong Saloem, offers the perfect spot for spotting gaudy coral and large schools of intriguing species like the yellow goatfish. Finally, Koh Tang and Koh Prins, located around four hours from the mainland, are known for their fantastic visibility and kaleidoscopic coral reefs.
A thriving community of professionals guarantee that your experience at sea is trouble-free and worth every penny. Scuba Nation, for example, offers PADI and National Geographic Diver courses that include equipment rental, meals and accommodation. They also offer refresher courses, instructor training and fun dives. Most of their dives are off Koh Tang and Koh Rong Saloem.
Another school we recommend is Koh Rong Dive Centre, which has been operating from the island since 2012 and boasts a wide range of courses from fun dives to divemaster, including a coral reef conservation awareness class.
Without sacrificing anything when it comes to safety, professionalism and great diving locations, scuba diving in Sihanoukville comes at very competitive prices. If you’re trying to find a more optimal and affordable location for your underwater exploits, don’t hold your breath.