The outing to Rabbit Island today was really cool. It was a hot but overcast day and rained for about 2 minutes. The group of people on my boat were friendly, and I talked to several from Holland and France who were visiting and a couple from Australia.
The Cambodians living on the island cook Khmer food and serve drinks to the tourists. They were fun and tried to teach us some Cambodian words. Interesting faces – some very Cambodian, some Chinese, and some Vietnamese looking. The snorkeling was just so, so but there was excellent swimming, and it was really much too hot to hike. The tropical winds were strong in the morning and afternoon and we had a wet, choppy, “into-the-wind” ride on the way back to Kep. It takes about 30 minutes to get from Kep to Rabbit Island – at least via our mode of transportation…
Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay in Khmer) is a small tropical island in the Gulf of Thailand about 2.8 miles southwest of Kep. It has secluded white-sand beaches and a hilly coconut palm interior. Tourists enjoy the island’s snorkeling but the best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced was in Zanzibar, a small island off the coast of Tanzania in Africa. Rabbit Island can’t hold a candle to it. The sea around the island is “shallow and has a long slope, making it an excellent place for swimming. Researchers and ecologists study Rabbit Island because of the variety of corals, sea animals, and plants found on the sea bottom.”
Koh Tonsay is 2 square kilometers (.77 square miles) and it takes about two hours to hike around the island. During the Prince Norodom Sihanouk’s Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime it was a rehabilitation center for criminals who worked on and defended the island. They constructed horse cart paths and wooden thatch-roofed motels. Weather and decades of war destroyed most of that infrastructure.
Today, seven families live on the island and earn their living by fishing and growing coconut trees. There are new bamboo guest houses on the main beach, visited by Cambodian and foreign tourists. You can spend the night in the guest houses which are bare-bones minimum accommodation but right on the beach.
Some of the guys played soccer with the children of the Cambodian families, and their dog had 8 adorable new puppies which we all played with and enjoyed. Can’t think of a more mellow way to spend the day than being lazy on Rabbit Island!