I personally wouldn’t spend more than a day or two in the sleepy Cambodian coastal town of Kep. Aside from a day cruising through the countryside to see the pepper plantations, salt fields and the caves, I found it rather unexciting. Instead, jump on one of the many boats departing from the town’s main port and revel in the beautiful beach retreat of Rabbit Island – and if time allows, for more than just the usual day trip that’s on offer. I spent three glorious days there.
The 20-minute boat ride (costing $10 return) takes you to a different world – a peaceful and serene island scattered with Cambodian style huts, hammocks swinging from palm trees and a sparse scattering of sun loungers. At night the coast is lined with a handful of quiet bars and when the generator goes out after 10 pm the sea is illuminated with plankton (and the many naked people swimming in their glow).
But Rabbit Island isn’t just about the beach. It also has another side; an adventurous side. But to see it you have to join the trekking trail that runs around its perimeter.
At first we couldn’t find the trail we needed on the right side of the island (if you are facing out to sea) and we heard through word of mouth that if you started on the path that was on the left side of the island it was hard to find your way back due to the locals covering part of the path the opposite side of the island which would in turn force you to have to use their boats to get back.
But we stumbled upon a couple who had been living on Rabbit Island for three weeks and who had taken it upon themselves to trek around the island every few days. They knew the way, including the covered path. Just ask around when you get there and you’ll find some trekking buddies or those with more of an insight.
It turns out that the path starts not right at the end of the right side of the island where there are lots of rocks to climb, but behind a set of guesthouse huts a few metres before there. It then seems really obvious since the path is trodden and fairly easy to follow in parts.
The track begins by leading you through the dense green jungle like territory as you work your way through the middle of the island, where you will eventually stumble upon an isolated beach. The rest of the adventure follows a similar pattern as you manoeuver alternately through the forest to the beach, which you potentially have all to yourself.
Eventually, you will come to the part of the island where the locals live – it is said that seven families in total reside on the island. It is here that you will see their clever contraption of covering the marked path with bamboo leaves! Luckily for us, we were exiting that path and not trying to find it by trekking from the other direction. Don’t underestimate the resourcefulness of the Khmer people!
In total, the trek lasts around two hours – more if you decide to hang out at one of the beaches (if a gooey couple hasn’t already claimed the spot). At times you feel as though you are the only one of the track and if you do pass people coming from the other direction, it’s custom to help each other out with directions. After all, getting lost within the undergrowth of an island might not be that fun really…
Or would it?
Take a walk on the wild side of Rabbit Island. It makes a nice change to the scenic hangout which can become a little repetitive. It all depends how much of a beach bunny you are or how much you want to get your walking shoes on and explore this stunning little island tucked away from the Cambodian mainland.