Which beach to visit
Feeling overwhelmed by all these wonderful options? Fear not! Here is a quick analysis.
If you want to go somewhere without crowds then your best two options are Prek Treng and Sokha beaches. Prek Treng is usually empty, and Sokha is carefully overseen by the Sokha resort staff, so locals are usually nowhere to be seen.
In short, Sokha is empty but touristy and expensive while Prek Treng is also usually empty but further away and less-well maintained.
If you prefer a more active atmosphere then Victory Beach is probably the best bet, as it is close to town, close to the former backpacker hub Victory Hill, and is a nice mix of locals and foreigners.
Otres is similar to Victory, but just a bit further away. It does, however, have a unique river delta and village nearby, so if you want to spend a whole day out but not in the sun, then maybe choose Otres over Victory.
Last but not least comes Independence Beach which, being so close to town needs almost no introduction. Almost every visitor will pass by the beach at least once during their stay. Expect moderate crowds and LOTS of activities like snorkeling.
Location: right at the base of Victory Hill (you can't miss it)
Best time to Travel: November to January
Transport: Victory Beach is just outside Sihanoukville, about a 15-20 minute walk from the edge of town or a few minutes in a tuk-tuk or cab
Features: near to Victory Hill, quiet during the day, more lively at night, white sand
You are recommended to travel to this beach during November to January when the days are a bit shorter, so you do not have to wait as long to see a sunset. Victory Beach is the most popular for watching sunsets.
Victory Hill or “the hill”, once the main hub for backpackers and budget travelers in the area, has begun to change, and the beach itself is now very quiet during the day and is not packed with BBQ carts and vendors.
The top of the hill maintains some of its old charisma but the beach itself is very nice and some say the most “Western” of Cambodia's beaches.
Location: north of Victory Beach
Best time to travel: November to April
Transport: being a little further from town a tuk-tuk or rented bicycle can deposit you here in under 15 minutes
Features: quiet, free, white sand, good BBQ, near other beaches
One day soon, Independence Beach will be dominated by a new hotel and casino. For the time being, however, it is one of the quietest beaches close to town. The beach is over one kilometer long meaning there is plenty of room to spread out.
Independence Hotel, after which the beach is named, sits at the north end of the beach. The hotel is worth a visit if you have time. Further south there are fewer crowds and some small, but seriously good, BBQ shacks and restaurants.
Independence Beach, namely the pier at the southern end of the beach, is a popular rendezvous destination for locals as well as a launching point for many scuba and snorkeling trips.
Location: Street 2 Thnou, Sihanoukville, 18204
Best time to travel: off-season for lower prices, but nice year-round
Transport: If you are already beach-hopping you might be in walking distance, otherwise take a tuk-tuk or cab for about 20 minutes
Features: up-market, groomed sand, quiet, no locals, finer foods
Sokha Beach is predominantly used by guests staying at the Sokha Beach Resort. As such, it has gained a reputation as one of the swankier beaches in the area. Virtually no locals use the beach, which means you can nap undisturbed and without being offered a massage or fresh fruit.
The beach is a kilometer long so it has plenty of space. The resort offers gazebos and umbrellas for a small fee and regularly grooms and maintains the sand.
There are plenty of outdoor activities at Sokha Beach but the resort has a monopoly on the area, so if you are not content with the prices you will need to head to another beach.
If you want to pick out your own snacks there is a very nice market close to the south end of the beach.
Prek Treng Beach
Location: about 4 km north of the city so take a tuk-tuk or expect a sizeable walk
Best time to travel: even during peak season this beach is hardly used
Transport: tuk-tuk or taxi from the city center or a long walk up from Victory Beach
Features: warm waters, shallow water, groomed sand, isolated and serene
Although one of the more distant beaches on the list, it is also one of the quietest and most peaceful. Even on a weekend it is rare to see more than a few picnickers, making this beach an ideal choice if you are traveling during peak season and still hope to avoid the crowds.
Where the waters at Victory Beach are deep and cool, the waters here are much shallower and consequently a bit warmer, making this beach a nice stopover during the cooler months and a great place for families with children.
Bring your own food though, as there are only a few small stands selling snacks and if there is no one on the beach they will often close up shop early.
Location: about 8 km south of town
Best time to travel: this large beach is pleasant year-round
Transport: walking is a possibility on a nice day, but most travelers grab a bike or tuk-tuk
Features: one of the largest beaches, a variety within the beach boundaries, plenty to see, plenty to eat and drink
Otres Beach spans 3 kilometers and is pretty diverse along the way. The so-called 'near end', due to it being closer to the city, has a number of fun bars and beachside restaurants. On weekends, there is often live music and there is a lively atmosphere along the whole beach.
Along towards the southern, 'far end', the beach is quieter and feels more isolated. There are still a few food options and delicious snacks around, but the overall feeling is much more relaxed.
Otres River village is near the beach, sitting next to where the Otres River flows into the ocean. The village is a mix of locals and backpackers and can be a great break from the heat after a long afternoon on the sand.
The Otres Market is a food-and-crafts market, opening on Saturdays. You can expect plenty of snacks, fresh squeezed juices, and live music. There is a lot more going on in the market during the high season, but it will shut down if the monsoon rains are heavy