Cut off on the island

This little island off the coast of Cambodia, near the town of Kep, is the ultimate escape from the world. There’s nothing to do except relax.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.

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Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia

In the world these days, it seems the most isolated you can feel is when you are without the internet. No wifi with which to read your emails, no connection to check current events, no broadband to browse your bored friends and their updates on social media.

So it is that I feel isolated here on Rabbit Island… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia

Rabbit Island is a small patch of land in the sea off the coast of southern Cambodia. From the town of Kep, it’s accessible only by boat through choppy but refreshing waters.

With only a few backpackers and a few backpacks as its cargo, the boat takes just 30 minutes to glide to the island.

There’s only one part of the island where visitors can stay – on the beach which the boats land on. Stretched along it, just metres from the sand, are dozens of small bungalows.

There are no guesthouses or hotels. The only accommodation option is a simple little shack.

There must only be about one hundred bungalows on the whole island. That means no more than two hundred people here at any one time… although I suspect it’s normally much less.

Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia
Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia

Every ten or so bungalows belong to a different owner, and each has also built a little bar or restaurant by the shoreline. They’re the only places to get anything to eat or drink – not that it’s a problem because the food is delicious and the prices reasonable.

I order crabs for lunch and, several minutes later, the boy who took my order wanders out into the water and collects some crabs from the cage floating ten metres out to sea. There’s no denying the food is fresh.

Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia

There isn’t really much to do except eat, drink, relax and enjoy the water. The only power on the island comes from generators – and usually only for a few hours during dinner in the evening.

There are no electronic distractions, no other places to be, no outside influences. The most exciting parts of the day tend to come from finishing a chapter of your book.

Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia

I decide to be slightly active one morning and go for a walk around the whole island. It takes me almost two hours… but not because it is particularly large.

It’s more because there is no obvious path or development so at times I’m forced to beat my way through bushes, clamber over rocks, or wade through a rising tide.

Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia

Local fishing families and their small wooden shacks are the only signs of life on the walk. Some of them are clearly out to sea, but others have the boats and nets pulled up close to the sand.

I get smiles and waves from them as I walk past… and on one occasion, a friendly point towards the path which I couldn’t quite find myself.

Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia

But for the most part, Rabbit Island is about doing nothing. The other tourists here seem content to lie in the sun, read a book, take a leisurely lunch, nap in a hammock, and any of the other things you might expect on a remote beach.

One hairy backpacker told me he was here to detox after a week of partying in Phnom Penh, but I don’t think that is the norm.

Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia

No, this is just one of those little tropical getaways where the worries of the world are left at the mainland. It’s far enough off the trail to not feel crowded.

It’s the perfect little place to get away from it all for a few days.

32 thoughts on “Cut off on the island”

    • Oh, I hope Rabbit Island doesn’t become like the Thai islands. I’ve got no problem with them but I like to think there are small places like this where you can escape the mayhem!

      Reply
  1. The idea of a tropical island away from everything including the Net could be really nice. Time to read and time to think would be really great, especially a warm place.
    Not sure I could do it for very long, I tend to be a city person. I need people around, just a quiet oasis among them.

    Reply
    • Yeah, I’m the same, I get a bit antsy. I don’t mind being away from the net and civilisation and all that… but I like the ability to check in occasionally and just make sure there’s nothing urgent to deal with.

      Reply
  2. I always love the idea of going to the beach & taking it easy reading, swimming, sipping cocktails & eating fresher-than-fresh fish, but when every I get to a white powder sand beach I get so unbelievably bored after 30 minutes. The same for Franca. I don’t know what it is. Maybe we just don’t know how to relax. Maybe it’s just not our type of relaxation?

    I don’t know, either way it looks like you had a nice time and a much deserved break.

    Reply
    • I don’t mind relaxing, in the sense of not doing much. But I’m with you – I get bored pretty quickly with just lying in the sun. A good book can help but ultimately I want to explore things!

      Reply
  3. Funny. We just missed each other by a couple of days. 🙂

    I am doing an internship in Phnom Penh and with all of these public holidays here I was able to escape the buzzling city for a couple of days. As I just read your text about Sihanoukville, you can imagine why I choose to go to Koh Tonsay or Rabbit Island (as tourists call it).

    I just think it’s great there. Hanging around in a hammock and some wandering around the island. Usually the beach dogs keep followi8ng you within their territory, which is quite funny. And having a huge gecko in the bamboo hut is quite special – even when he shits on your backpack. After a can of cold beer at sunset, the moon comes out and bats emerge in the sky.

    When I arrived there were only 3 (!) foreign people at the beach. I loved it. But now in the low-season you better rent a private boat, as I met people who waited 1 day to go back to Kep. So they were pretty stuck. Also some jellyfish action was on one day. But they diasappered as the burning did the next one.

    Anyway. – Write on.

    Reply
    • What a pity we missed each other. I MUCH preferred Kep and Rabbit Island to Sihanoukville. The crowds were a bit too much for me but the quiet beach with the hammocks was really relaxing.

      Reply
  4. Look like heaven on earth. After reaching the island you will forget all your tensions easily. I just want to know more about this island. How can we go there? Is there any danger of Cambodian rebels?. Can we rent or purchase hammocks there?

    Reply
    • You can get to Rabbit Island by boat from the town of Kep. It doesn’t take too long at all and you can easily arrange accommodation beforehand or when you get there. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘Cambodian rebels’ but it’s all very safe.

      Reply
  5. I am about to travel to Cambodia and am planning to go to Kep. I am so glad that you’ve confirmed what I thought- that it is a real escape, tranquil and almost untarnished by people! Did you need to bring your own mat and sleeping bag for the huts?

    Reply
    • It’s so peaceful – the perfect place to get away from everything! And, no, you don’t need to take any sleeping equipment for you. There are a few different types of huts you can stay in but they all have bedding.

      Reply
  6. Retaining the theme by Stuart Cohen and Julie Hacker

    As successful furniture shop in Cambodia construction materials informed, visual consistency plays an important role when a kitchen is designed to become an addition to the adjacent living environment as the pictured kitchen portrays by architects Stuart Cohen and Julie Hacker.
    The duo duplicate the traditional millwork found throughout the house. “We also replicated the crown moulding, base boards and the casing around the doors,” said Hacker. “But we invented the rest of the vocabulary of the woodwork. The island and sink cabinet, for example, feature a classical column design, which is a homage to renowned English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.”
    Other key features include retro pieces that enhance the traditional theme of the design such as a custom steel hood and cabinet brackets in antiqued patina. A walk-in pantry and a large butler’s pantry were also added.

    Reply
  7. Nous sommes 3 adultes avons besoin de 2 chambres du 17 au 22 fevrier ma femme est enceinte et avons besoin de nous reposer . merci de me faire des propositions.
    cordialement

    Reply

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