A serene beach paradise off the beaten path.
“Secret Beach” the words pulled my attention to the slightly vague map at the bottom of the page. I was spending a long weekend in Kep – Cambodia’s quiet coastal alternative to the party town of Sihanoukville. The booklet I found at the guesthouse described Angkaul Beach to offer a relaxed, nice swim while enjoying a quiet afternoon or an adventurous motorbike ride or lounge in the peaceful seaside hammock at the other end which all sounded like the perfect combination for a great vacation.
Angkaul Beach is located about 30 kilometers east of Kep, near the Vietnam border. In the 1960s, wealthy Cambodians on holiday went to Angkaul to swim. During the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s and the following decades of conflict, Kep and the surrounding areas lost its place as a seaside getaway and became a collection of small, quiet, fishing and farming villages.
Today, Angkaul is a 2-km stretch of sand with a few raised wooden platforms and hammocks for visitors to lounge in. There is a small fishing village there and a woman who sells cold drinks and coconuts. The water is shallow, but clear.
There are two ways to get to Angkaul from Kep. You can take the main road toward Phnom Penh and look for small wooden signs which tell you where to turn or you can take the “shortcut”.
On my first excursion to Angkaul, I took the shortcut. The vague instructions from the booklet were basically useless except that it gave me an idea of which direction to go and where to turn off the main road.
The shortcut begins as a path winding its way through the salt flats; an area where villagers produce salt in large murky pools. Partway through the salt flats, the path ends, or becomes several smaller footpaths winding in different directions. At this point, it’s good to have a decent sense of direction or to know how to speak Khmer.
After lots of winding around, the salt flats end and you find the sea on your left. From there, travel through a series of fishing villages until you come to a strip of sand with beautiful coconut palms leaning out toward the water. A little further on you’ll see the hammocks and reed mats and know you’ve arrived.
Not many tourists (foreign or domestic) make it out to Angkaul, so you’ll likely have the place to yourself. You can spend the afternoon lying in the shade (or the sun, if you can take it), exploring the fishing community, or watching the small fishing boats heading out to sea.
Small signs have been put up pointing the way to Angkaul, so it won’t be a secret for long. If you like adventure but an afternoon spent in a hammock sipping fresh coconut water also sounds good, make the trip to Angkaul.