Hidden, Tropical Wonderlands
Travellers all over the world look at destinations in the Asia Pacific for once-in-a-lifetime beach retreats. On one hand it’s fortunate to have so many spectacular options on our doorstep, and on the other it’s almost impossible to find a true beach escape with so many of our local favourites becoming so popular. We all know there is so much more to our islands and beaches than bars, nightclubs and markets, but finding those hidden gems takes some patience and skill.
The travel experts at KAYAK.com.hk have done the research for you, to find five relatively untouched beaches in the Asia Pacific to give you that Robinson Crusoe experience. From quick fly-in, fly-out destinations to those that take some perseverance, we’ve got you covered.
Kapas Island, Malaysia
Speaking of local favourites, Kapas Island features on the list for many Malaysians. Never fear though, even locals only make the ferry trip during holiday periods, so you’ll have the place to yourself if you plan well. A small island with a laid-back atmosphere, this is the place to visit if you want to laze about in the sun between bursts of energetic activity. The beaches are stunning, with shallow, accessible reefs and crystal clear water offering excellent snorkelling, diving, windsurfing and kayaking. The best snorkelling can be found further offshore, between Kapas and Gemia Islands.
Diving enthusiasts will be fascinated by the World War II shipwreck area, which also includes sunken illegal fishing trawlers. Fearless surfers should head to the area between November and March, when Monsoon season whips the ocean into a frenzy of perfect, if terrifying, swells. After a hard day out, dine and drink beneath the swaying coconut trees and enjoy the peaceful evenings.
How to get there: Flights from Hong Kong to Kuala Terengganu from $1,442*
Where to stay: Kapas Island Resort from $272* per double room per night
Alankuda, Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka
The beautiful Kalpitiya region lies in the northwestern province of Sri Lanka. As a diverse marine habitat, Alankuda beach is one of those rare places dolphins and whales can be seen regularly, at any time of day. Get even closer to these majestic creatures by joining a tour. Exploring the golden beaches, bar reefs, salt marshes, sand dunes, salt-pans and mangrove swamps can take a while, so it’s a good idea to spend at least a week enjoying your surrounds.
Kite-surfers won’t find a much more exotic location to indulge in the sport, and with the Indian Ocean and Kalpitiya Lagoon at your fingertips, it’s also a great destination for free-ride and wave riding for beginners and freestylers. Loads of fishing happens here, so you’ll find no shortage of fresh sea fare and indigenous dishes to satisfy your appetite.
How to get there: Flights from Hong Kong to Colombo from $2,505*
Where to stay: Dolphin Beach Hotel from $1,238* per double room per night
Iriomote-jima, Okinawa Islands, Japan
While relatively close to well-known Ishigaki-jima, Iriomote-jima is often referred to as Japan’s final frontier. Given the island does not have an airstrip, you may feel at times like the only people around. Almost the entire island is covered in dense jungle and mangrove swamp, with some of Japan’s most gorgeous coral reefs just offshore. Spice up your beach experience with an adventure into the lush interior, by riverboat or kayak.
You might even spot the rare, nocturnal yamaneko wildcat and at Funaura-wan bay, Pinaisāra-no-taki waterfall plunges dramatically from the cliff-tops. For a fascinating interlude from the sun-drenched main beaches, take a day trip to remote Hoshizuna-no-hama (Star Sand Beach), on the northern tip of the island. Here the beach lives up to its name, with each grain of sand shaped like tiny stars. It also offers lovely snorkelling with plenty of coral and fish, and warm shallow waters for bathing.
How to get there: Flights from Hong Kong to Ishigaki from $4,261*
Where to stay: Seaside Hotel Royal Blue Moon from $1,187* per double room per night
Kanthaya & Gwa, Myanmar
Nestled between the popular Ngwe Saung and Ngapali resort strips in the Bay of Bengal are the hidden gems of Kanthaya and Gwa. This option is for the intrepid adventurers among you, as you’ll need to get savvy with local bus timetables and be patient with hours on the road, or rent a car and explore the region along the way. It’s worth the journey, as you’ll find palm tree-lined beaches and undeveloped coastline. Outside the November to March peak season, you’re unlikely to see anyone but a few locals.
Aside from romantic walks for miles along the endless beaches, the area is renowned for tropical bird-spotting, wildlife and stunning natural beauty. It will also give you a taste of authentic coastal life in Myanmar. Get around on a rental bike to navigate the small streets with ease and pedal your way to Sat-thwar market to barter for handicrafts or snack on mouth-watering seafood delicacies. Waves in the region are rather tame, making it ideal for newbie surfers. Once again, the rainy season brings the goods, with stellar swells appearing around Ngapali Beach at this time. If you’re there in July or August and fancy a surf, head for the north end of Chaungtha Beach.
How to get there: Flights from Hong Kong to Yangon from $1,187*
Where to stay: Amata Resort & Spa in Ngapali from $585* per double room per night
Dampier Peninsula, Australia
Let’s face it, as the world’s largest island, Australia has plenty of remote beaches. Beaches are often so unpopulated, the long stretches of sand form official highways. In terms of bang for your buck, Broome is the perfect location to head for. You can fly straight in, and be enjoying a local beach within an hour of leaving the airport. But don’t stop there, rent a 4X4 and head north to the spectacular coastline of the Dampier Peninsula. Pristine wilderness and unmatched swimming opportunities await.
The Peninsula is a true Australian experience, with rough terrain, friendly Aboriginal communities, tranquil bushland and white sand stretching to the horizon. Your only real stress here will be choosing whether to swim, snorkel, hike, fish or relax. Not a bad set of options to contemplate while gazing over the turquoise waters. Along the way, stop in at Reddell Beach. Hidden from view along the road from Gantheaume Point, Reddell Beach meshes a breathtaking backdrop of deep blue ocean with striking red sand cliffs, making for unbeatable photos around sunrise or sunset.
How to get there: Flights from Hong Kong to Broome from $7,020*
Getting around: SUV hire from $486 per day*
Where to stay: Pinctada McAlpine House from $1,379* per double room per night
Top tip: Still haven’t made up your mind on where to go? KAYAK.com.hk recommends creating your own Price Alerts to monitor flight or hotel prices to make sure you don’t miss out on a deal. You can also check out Explore to discover new beach destinations within your set budget.
To search and compare prices for flights, hotels, car rentals and much more, visit KAYAK.com.hk or download the app.
*Prices displayed are based on searches conducted on 11th May 2016. Flight prices are based on a round trip economy fare for travel from 13-20 August 2016. Hotel prices are for double occupancy per room per night. Prices are subject to change, availability may be limited or offers may no longer be available.
Featured image sourced via Pinterest. © Jerzy Opoka | Dreamstime.com – Sunset over the Bay of Bengal