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Despite ever-increasing crowds with each high season, the laid-back beach of Otres, which sits a 10-minute tuk-tuk ride from the seaside town of Sihanoukville, has retained its relaxed charm and hippy vibe. Boasting turquoise waters, powder-soft sand, good food and a popular night market, Otres Beach is the perfect spot to kick back and do absolutely nothing.
This is the place to go for amazing pasta and pizza. One of only two restaurants dishing up grub past around 9.30pm, Papa Pippo serves pizza until 2.30am, helping to stave off the midnight munchies. As the last digs on the beach before the lonely stretch to Otres 2, Papa Pippo also offers quaint, waterfront bungalows for guests to bed down in, starting from USD16 (around £13). Come daytime, there are plenty of comfy seats, tables and chairs, and low-slung loungers for basking in the rays or watching the sunset with a cocktail.
Another stalwart on the scene, Mushroom Point embodies the personality of Otres back in the day. Named after the mushroom-shaped huts that make up its accommodation, this beachside haunt is also home to a number of guest rooms and a bar that serves food overlooking the sea. Loungers and cushion-topped rattan chairs dot the sand beneath the dappled shade of the trees – for the ultimate chill, kick off your flip-flops and curl up in one of the egg seats swinging gently from the branches.
As probably the largest shack on the shore and another old-timer, Chez Paou is popular throughout the day and night. Super-friendly staff serve up a wide range of food, from Western to Khmer dishes, as well as catch of the day, fresh from the local waters. There’s also a pool table, a pack of friendly dogs hanging out, and a hoard of sunbeds to stretch out on.
As one of the newest kids on the block, Greenhouse Effect injects a fresh dose of hip style into the traditional beach-shack recipe. To a soundtrack of mellow house music, the bar dishes up breakfast, lunch and dinner – a combination of local and Western dishes. Its private stretch of beach boasts large loungers, welcoming staff and bamboo baskets to keep your bag sand-free.
It may not be right on the beach, but Otres Lodge is worth the short trip across the road, especially as it’s one of the first places in the area to bring with it with a pool. While this may baffle some people, seeing as the sea is a stone’s throw away, the lodge has sparked a growing trend and offers a quiet respite away from the crowds of sun-worshippers. There’s also a variety of tucked-away bungalows with air-conditioning and hot showers.
Just steps from the sea, Little Moorea offers something a little different: the chance to camp out on the sand in tents. It’s also the ideal spot to watch another idyllic sunset, while listening to the waves gently crashing on the shore. And to top it all off, a happy hour with sundowner specials runs daily.