If you’re a beach hound, you’ll be glad to know that some of the most exotic destinations are located right here in Asia! Here’s our list of the 10 BEST BEACHES IN THE WORLD
It doesn’t have to be your honeymoon to plan the ultimate beach vacation but finding a sandy shore that’s both stunning and not packed to the brim with tourists and screaming babies can be tricky. The good news is, you need not have to fly all the way to the Caribbean (although we have included one here) to find a beautiful beach. Some of the most exotic destinations are located right here in Asia. Here’s our list of the 10 Best Beaches in the World.
1. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
The islands off Malaysia are as stunning as anywhere else in the region and you get the added benefit of relatively less tourist crowds while the chances of encountering a tout hassling you to buy something is rare. Perhentian is made up of two neighbouring islands and both are equally nice. On the bigger island you have Turtle Beach where you might encounter the resident turtles and friendly reef sharks. On the smaller island, there is Long Beach which is popular among party-loving backpackers. The islands are mostly surrounded by clear turquoise waters during the high season from April through October.
2. Railay & Phra Nang, Krabi, Thailand
Railay, also known as Rai Leh, is a peninsula located off Krabi and accessible by boat only. There is no road access because of huge limestone hills surrounding the area. But the surreal landscape of hills and caves add to the mystery and beauty of the area. Besides swimming, visitors can explore the trails to different beaches such as the famous Phra Nang Beach which is more secluded and famous for its caves. Other activities around the area include kayaking, rock climbing, snorkelling or scuba diving. There are also some bars and restaurants in the area.
3. Banana Beach, Koh Hey (Coral Island), Phuket, Thailand
Banana Beach on Koh Hey Island is perfect for nature lovers. Only 30 minutes by boat from Chalong Pier in Phuket, it is perfect for a day trip and to get away from the usual tourist crowd. On the beach, you can swim, snorkel, row a kayak or just laze on a beach chair with food and drinks. The name of the beach comes from the banana boat rides which are popular here. The water around the beach is crystal clear and there aren’t many man-made structures yet to spoil the scenery.
4. Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia
To get to Nusa Penida Island, you have to make your way to Sanur in Bali to hop on-board a traditional boat called ‘jukung’ for a 90-minute ride. Penida, considered the most exotic and largest among the cluster of Nusa islands, features a Hindu temple, picturesque cliff formations with limestone caves, waterfalls, lagoons and rare species of birds. Popular beaches on the island are Kelingking, which requires a bit of hiking, and Crystal Bay, known for its spectacular sunsets. It takes some effort to get to the island but you will be leaving behind the tourist crowds and richly rewarded for your effort.
5. El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
El Nido scores highly on the list of most beautiful beaches in the world and it’s easy to see why. The cluster of islands in the area is surrounded by dramatic rock formations and hills while the waters range from crystal clear to turquoise. To enjoy the spectacular scenery, you would have to book one of the boat tours that take you island hopping. The boats will also stop at several “secret” lagoons where you can take a dip in the cool waters.
6. Alif Dhaal Atoll, Maldives
The Maldives in the Indian Ocean is made up of 26 natural atolls with hundreds of islands surrounded by crystal clear water and colourful reefs. All the islands have their own lagoons and there are thousands of beaches to choose from. Alif Dhaal Atoll is just one of the more popular atolls but if you are pressed to pick a resort and budget is not an issue, try One & Only Reethi Rah resort (www.oneandonlyresorts.com) for a romantic holiday of a lifetime. You will be spoilt for choice as there are hundreds of other good resorts on the island to choose from.
7. Cocoa Island, Maldives
You will be the envy of friends when you land on this exotic island in the Maldives as every photo you take here will be Instagram-worthy. You can spend the day swimming in the crystal clear waters, sip on a fresh coconut, go snorkelling, enjoy the resort facilities or just watch the sunset. To get to this private island, you would have to book a stay with Como Cocoa Island Resort (comohotels.com). Do note that they will closing the island for extensive upgrade from May through September.
8. Matira Beach, Bora Bora, Tahiti
Matira is one of the few beaches on the unique-shaped Bora Bora Island open to the public but you might as well book a stay along the beach itself so that you enjoy Polynesian culture and savour every moment in Tahiti. The beach is framed by palm trees and mountains in the background while the water is shallow and crystal clear. During the day, you can go explore the island’s many hiking trails, go swimming, snorkelling or walk out to the coral reefs during low tide. There are also many shops nearby for souvenir-hunting or food.
9. Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy
If a tropical beach vacation sounds too cliché, consider a Mediterranean beach located in a small cliff-side village called Positano on southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast. The beach is small, mostly crowded, and the sand is dark coloured – a huge difference from the sandy beaches in the tropics. But the backdrop of colourful houses on a hill makes this a picture-perfect destination. You can relax on one of the beach chairs with a pizza or pasta while people-watching, go for a swim or enjoy a boat ride. Positano is a romantic getaway where you can live your Italian dream, taking in the sights and sounds of a quaint village filled with history.
10. Playa Paraiso, Cuba
Playa Paraiso, or Paradise Beach, has been ranked among the top beaches in the Caribbean. It features powdery white sands along the turquoise Caribbean Sea with no man-made structures to spoil the view. Located at the west end of Cayo Largo, not too far from the hotels, the beach is tranquil and popular with swimmers and sunbathers. Beach umbrellas, lounger chairs, snacks and drinks are amenities offered on the beach.
It’s always good to bring enough cash with you when you’re on a beach or island where ATM machines may be hard to find and credit cards may not be accepted. Also be mindful of safety rules on the beach and avoid dangerous stunts like jumping off a cliff. Medical aid may not be immediately available depending on how remote your location is. Sand flies are common along the beach, so do apply insect repellents before you head out. Drinking water, slippers, sunscreen lotion and sun glasses are some of the essential items to bring along to the beach.
Photos © iStock by Getty Images.