The islands in the Gulf of Thailand are certainly no secret, with plenty of high-end offerings abound. But away from the crowded resort towns and across the still waters of the gulf lies a hidden luxury – Song Saa Private Island.
When Australians Rory and Melita Hunter first explored Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago, they were enamored by the region’s turquoise waters, sublime shoreline, charming local communities and biodiversity. But when they stopped on one of the islands for lunch, they were distraught to discover the pristine shoreline littered with trash.
After learning that this was the result of insufficient waste management resources in the nearby fishing villages coupled with a lack of environmental sustainability awareness, they developed ambitious plans for a new eco-tourism development stretching across two islands known as ’Song Saa’ or ’the sweethearts’. Adopting the philosophy, ‘luxury that treads lightly’, they invited guests to experience the magic of Song Saa’s natural paradise.
A revolutionary resort in the region and of its kind, Song Saa’s impact set a precedent for sustainable tourism beyond the ‘sweetheart islands’ in the Koh Rong Archipelago. The Song Saa Foundation, which operates in conjunction to the resort, manages a range of environmental and community initiatives in the region. It is also home to Cambodia’s first marine reserve.
Today, guests can witness the incredible impact of the foundation with a short boat ride to the local village of Prek Svay. The local fishermen and their families greet visitors with enthusiasm, eager to to introduce themselves. Though many of their stilted homes have sunken roofs or are missing entire walls, their proud smiles convey their love for their family, community and home – a home that without Song Saa’s support would be at risk.
Long after leaving the island, the impression of their proud smiles remain. The best kind of journeys, like these, are the ones that transform us, leaving us with a new understanding of the world – and our responsibility to maintain it.
Discover more unforgettable moments at Song Saa Private Island –
RESTORE – your mind, body and soul to their natural stillness
The first instructions upon arriving at Song Saa are to set the clocks back to ‘island time’ (one hour), an effort to realign the body’s internal clock to the forgotten cadence of the sun. Afterwards, guests are free to roam. A single stilted footbridge connects the two islands, constructed from recycled driftwood. Beautiful Maldives-esque overwater villas (27 to be exact) dot the circumference of one island, while the other is home to a serene nature trail and expanded spa experience. (Tip – Opt for the Royal Villa for an extra tranquil stay – it’s the furthest villa down the footbridge and away from all distraction.)
BREATHE – morning yoga on the overwater platform
EXPLORE – swim in bioluminescent water, kayak, snorkel and more
The island is your playground; a barefoot paradise for exploration. There are no obligations or appointments on ‘island time’. Kayaks, paddle boards and snorkels are available anytime, and boat charters can easily be arranged through the activities hut. In the hours after sunset, those who are brave enough to plunge blindly into the darkness of the ocean will be pleasantly rewarded with a bioluminescent dip. (Tip – Time your visit to the darkness of a new moon for an extra illuminating experience).
NOURISH – local, organic and atmospheric dining
Dining options here are designed for moments, not meals. Your choice in dining is as much about the meal as it is creating the right atmosphere that will awaken the senses to nourish both body and soul. Dine under the stars al fresco, relish in the privacy and seclusion of your bungalow, or island hop to a nearby shoreline to enjoy a private picnic. In addition to the resort’s own organic garden, they source local ingredients that in turn support the local fishing communities.
"The best kind of journeys, like these, are the ones that transform us, leaving us with a new understanding of the world – and our responsibility to maintain it."