It may be tucked away in a remote part of Cambodia, but the tiny resort of Lazy Beach on Koh Rong Samloem island has now made it onto a list of the 21 best beaches in the world.
National Geographic, a U.S-based magazine, was impressed enough with its charms to name it as one of the “must-visit” beaches, alongside more famous stretches of sand in the Seychelles, Hawaii and Australia.
Owned by two U.K. nationals, Lazy Beach is located on the west side of Koh Rong Samloem, about 25 km off the coast of Sihanoukville and a two-hour trip by boat.
Smaller than nearby Koh Rong island, it is also quieter—although that could all change after the recent National Geographic accolade.
With golden sands and crystal-clear blue water, Lazy Beach offers wooden bungalows with views of the ocean in a “tropical paradise” with swimming, snorkeling and diving.
National Geographic urged readers to “take this beach’s name to heart and come to meander the jungle, nap in porch swings, and let life slow to a crawl.”
What the article fails to mention is that Lazy Beach is privately owned land, and marketed as a quiet, secluded getaway from the crowds of the area’s busier beaches.
Co-owner Chris Beadles, who bought the beach from the government in 2007 when it was just called “Beach Number 2” and made it the island’s first resort, wants to keep it that way.
While not wishing to say anything negative about the exposure, Mr. Beadles said he hoped it would not lead to too many visitors dropping in from the other side of the island.
“If it gets to something like a couple hundred people walking over every day, we might have to change our policy,” he said, adding that only about 30 to 40 non-guests visit on a busy day. “We try to keep it quiet for customers—try to keep it as is.”
With just 20 bungalows rented at $65 a night for up to four adults or a family, Mr. Beadles doubted he would see an increase in revenue because of the coverage on the magazine’s website.
“It’s not going to really benefit us. We’re always busy in the high season and quiet in the low season,” he said.
Kyoko Ohashi, who has run the EcoSea Dive Center on the island for about 15 years, thought there were beaches more worthy of National Geographic’s recognition.
“[Lazy Beach is] nice, but I don’t think it’s long enough,” she said. “Sok San [on Koh Rong] is better as a beach.”
For Punt Vioeak, the office manager at Koh Rong Island Travel, the lack of people at Lazy Beach was the main draw.
“I really like it because it’s quiet…and it’s the only beach on the island where you can see the sunset,” he said.