It’s rush hour in Lazy Beach, which means there are six people floating in the azure water watching the late afternoon sun disappear into the Gulf of Thailand.
There’s no noise from hammering, shouting or motorbikes. Only the distant buzzing of insects, chirping of birds and crashing of waves as they break onto pale caramel sand. Dozens of miniscule sand crabs scuttling for shelter may be your only companions on this wide expanse of beach and a languid gecko croaking in the rafters may be your only spectator for an entire weekend.
Here, that’s about as complicated as life gets. This laid-back getaway is a little slice of heaven for those who crave solitude, silence and total relaxation. Don’t go if you’re looking for nightlife, shopping or wild parties. But, then again, perhaps you should, so you may learn how to disconnect from the outside world and float through the days in a haze of tranquility.
Located on Koh Rong Samloem, 2 ½ hours off the coast of Sihanoukville, Lazy Beach is far enough away to attract only those who are serious about relaxing. We recently took our second weekend trip and, after a four-hour bus ride followed by a rough boat journey across huge, turbulent waves, staggered off the ramshackle fishing vessel and declared we didn’t care to make the effort again. Two hours later, our feet in the sand and a brilliant sun sinking into the ocean horizon, memories of our arduous journey were as distant as the traffic of Phnom Penh and we started planning our next trip.
Lazy Beach has that effect on you. After a couple of hours wrapped in the tranquility of a place where the only decisions involve what to eat and when to nap, you feel the tension melting away and forget about anything that sounds like a schedule or a deadline.
It’s not that it’s glamourous or trendy. Far from it. Bungalows (priced at $40) are rustic and simple – basic wood structures with two double beds, mosquito nets, a bathroom and a small balcony. But that small balcony has a direct view onto the ocean and contains a pair of hammocks where you can dangle and watch the sunset or observe the day unfold. And there are only 17 bungalows on the entire seashore so there’s not much competition for the beach.
There’s no wifi or cellphone transmission, and entertainment options include ping pong, snorkeling, a bookcase filled with books and games and a path to the other side of the island (which takes only 20 minutes and, sadly, is starting to become developed with three new businesses opening in the past three months). There’s also no aircon or electricity most of the day, but there are lots of shady places beneath leafy palms and lush tropical foliage as well as cool ocean breezes which make evenings comfortable most of the year.
The central “living area” is a lobby cum restaurant cum bar cum gathering spot to eat, lounge, read or socialise, open on all sides to the elements with a scattering of wooden tables surrounded by comfy chairs with blue padded cushions and more hammocks. It’s here you’ll be greeted by hosts, Rich King and Chris Beadles (a couple of Brits), and welcomed with an ice cold lime drink and a handful of friendly black dogs as you hop onto the wooden jetty from the boat.
Rich is the Robinson Crusoe of Lazy Beach as he discovered it in 2007 on a weekend camping trip from Sihanoukville. One Monday morning in April, he called his college mate, Chris, who was at his desk in London and said three magic words: Island. Sunshine. Cambodia.
Within a month, Chris had quit his job, traded in his sweaters for a pair of shorts and become a partner in the modest beach resort which he designed with the help of the extended family. Rich’s Cambodian wife, Lina, and her brother, Ken, were the original cooks in the restaurant, his mother-in-law works in the booking office in Sihanoukville, father-in-law oversees construction and a cousin drives the fishing boat.
Since there’s not much on the island, the restaurant offers a full menu for all meals. Breakfast includes eggs, pancakes, bacon and French toast, and you can choose from salads, sandwiches, noodle dishes, burgers, curries, homemade crisps and Cambodian specials throughout the day.
Nothing costs more than $6, except for the special order of fresh prawns, squid or fish that needs to be ordered 24-hours in advance and can be prepared deep fried, BBQ’d, stir fried with garlic or hot and spicy (all heartily recommended by this writer).
Be sure to bring sunblock, bug spray, enough cash (the closest ATM is a long boat ride away in Sihanoukville), a torch and travel sickness pills if rough seas bother you.
And leave your stress behind on the shore.