Diving Koh Rong: A Dive Site With A Difference
This was a scuba diving site with a difference. Nearly all the dive schools are located on Koh Rong Island which is a two hour boat trip from the party town of Sihanoukville. The dive schools have offices on the mainland, which makes it tricky to get a feel for each shop. We decided to go with Koh Rong Dive Center, without having done too much research as we were in a bit of a rush and wanted to get as much beach time here as possible. They have a small shack at the top of hill in Sihanoukville (near the Golden Lion roundabout) with a couple of staff in who seemed a bit ‘absent’ if you catch my drift? They seemed very keen to sell us the six dive package almost making it seem as though there wasn’t another option, which we didn’t want as we were only staying there for three days and figured three to four dives would be plenty. In the end we emailed the dive centre on the island and they agreed to do us a package for four dives, a free ferry ride and one nights accommodation for free, all for $260. We also booked two nights accommodation in a bungalow with ‘Cocos’ for $40.
We arrived to get the bus to the ferry port, where the staff seemed clueless and disorganised. They collected everyone’s tickets for the ferry before they had got on the bus and then realised they were one short, obviously it was too late to tell who didn’t have a ticket, not a great start. After quite a bit of faffing we eventually got on the bus, and came to the conclusion that we had gone with the ‘cattle market’ dive shop, instead of one of the nice smaller shops that we usually opt for.
Their system also flagged up a joke we have about locals in the places we travel, treating you like you have some intelligence, and when things are run in this way people tend to sort things out a lot quicker by themselves than when they are being told what to do. Westerners do seem to like to organize people, which involves treating them like they can’t think for themselves and results in people behaving in exactly that way. Through their desire to organize, I believe it often has the opposite effect.
The ferry trip across the water was pleasant, however when we arrived, no one knew where we were staying. It seems the island shop doesn’t communicate with the mainland shop. We eventually find the brother of the guy we booked the trip with, who directs us to an islander called ‘Pierre’. Pierre knows my name, so at this point things begin to look up. He takes us through a maze of huts to a building that was still being built. We head upstairs to the end of the corridor, or to where the end of the corridor hadn’t been built, there is massive hole with a two story drop. The room is nice enough, and on the plus side of it just being built, it’s pretty damn clean for a room in Cambodia.
The diving was OK, visibility was poor but the water temperature was around 27-28C which was nice after the cooler waters we experienced in Vietnam. We saw a lot of divers, and were almost made to do the same dive spot twice, but fortunately (from our point of view) the compressor on the boat broke, so they had to head back to the mainland to get the tanks filled and decided to go to a closer dive spot for the afternoon dive on our second day. This turned out to be our favourite dive of Koh Rong, despite there being lots of divers and fairly poor visibility, we had fun as it was our Dive Master’s 200th dive and we saw a small octopus in the coral.
We had great fun on the island and were pleasantly surprised by the music on the first night. It was the first place we had been in Asia where we walked past seven or eight bars and they were all playing deep house, reggae and chill out tunes, some stuff we had in our own collection which was a rare treat for us and we wasted no time in making friends and getting the party started.
The island is definitely worth a visit, and it’s worth doing a couple of dives whilst you are there (its always nice to have a purpose to your visit) but I would consider going with a different dive shop if you are looking for a more intimate experience.
Have you experienced diving Koh Rong? Let us know below…
Water Temp: 28C
Sites: Approx 12 (more on other islands 2 and 4 hours away and better visibility)
Overall Rating: 3/5
Recommended Dive Shop: Koh Rong Dive Centre, Koh Rong Island, Cambodia
Summary: “The diving was only worth 3/5 but the island gets a 5/5 from us”