For intrepid travelers, the island’s most isolated resort is also its most intriguing.
As its name implies, Crusoe Island is the place for those who want to get away from everything and everyone. Spread out over a long stretch of beach, and tucked slightly back into the jungle, it’s an adventurer’s playground, with jungle and untouched beaches ripe for exploring and hidden look-out points, caves, and rocky outcrops just waiting to be discovered.
Located on the northern tip of Long Beach, Crusoe Island is a laid-back place owned by a Khmer artist from Siem Reap, Vanna, and run with the help of her family and a team of fun-loving and adventurous Western volunteers. While the bar and firepit can be a melting pot of interesting people from all over the world, Crusoe Island is also ideal for those who value solitude, with plenty of space to pitch a tent on an all-but-deserted beach and hammocks for reading and relaxing. The restaurant offers an array of very reasonably priced local and Western dishes and a full bar that produces very nice cocktails featuring locally sourced ingredients.
A popular activity is lazing in the sun in a comfy hammock with a cocktail from the bar and a good read from the Crusoe book exchange. But Crusoe Island also has plenty of more active entertainments, from hiking and kayaking to tubing, volleyball, slacklining, fishing, and even chess. They also offer more boat trips than any other resort on the island, including day/night fishing trips, late-night plankton-viewing trips, island trips, and sunset trips. Sometimes there are night hikes to the best places for watching the stars, and on very special occasions Crusoe Island’s staff run camping trips to their favorite spots around the island.
Accommodations range from military-grade tents and hammocks to comfortable dorm beds. We recommend spending a few dollars more to spend at least a night or two in one of the four beautiful bungalows, which cost just $15 a night (in high season, $10 a night in low season). Vanna’s arty side is on display in the bungalows’ stunning decor. Each is unique in character and design, and each is tucked into the jungle with a private stretch of beach, perfect for a romantic getaway.
The Crusoe Island bungalows’ open design, complemented with bright and airy curtains and lovely details, make them our are favorite accommodations on the island. Nevertheless, as everywhere on Koh Ta Kiev, Crusoe bungalows’ chic is of the back-to-basics variety. While they have Western-style seated toilets, flushing is accomplished with a bucket, and the bucket showers are an adventure in themselves, since the water first has to be collected from a nearby well. Those seeking hot showers and fluffy-toweled luxury may want to remain on the mainland, but we think the rustic facilities only add to Crusoe Island’s considerable charm.
While Crusoe was previously open only during high season, from November to April, this is set to change in 2019. If watching storms roll in over the beach from the comfort of your waterproof tent sounds like your idea of heaven, then Crusoe Island in rainy season will be your cup of tea. And off-the-beaten-schedule travelers know that, in addition to lower prices, the rainy season also offers amazing sunny afternoons and spectacular sunsets.
To get to Crusoe Island from the mainland, book your boat online or at a local vendor, or just climb aboard at 11:30 a.m. outside of Mien Mien in the middle of Otres 1. Boat prices vary, but it’s cheapest to reserve your accommodation and boat ticket online before you go. The return boat departs the island at 9 a.m. and arrives on the mainland at 10 a.m. Sometimes they run afternoon services, especially for group bookings. During the rainy season boats will depart from Ream NP, but Crusoe will run a transport service from Otres to Ream Beach.
Prices vary based on the season, but on average, it costs $2 per night if you bring your own hammock, $2 per person for your own tent, $10 per night for a tent rental, $4 to $7 for a dorm bed, $10 to $15 for a bungalow with shared bathrooms, and $15 to $25 for a private bungalow with it’s own bathroom. Perhaps most appealing is the buy-a-hammock deal for $15, which allows you to stay as long as you like! Return boat tickets are priced between $8 to $13, depending on whether you book online in advance.
While the dorm and bungalows include blankets and towels, those staying in tents and hammocks can rent a towel and a blanket for $3 for two days, to cover the cost of laundry.
Written by Cassie Wilkins
Looking for more? View the full Koh Ta Kiev island guide for info on how to get there, tips on where to stay, and what to do.