The whole of Asia has been a popular destination for soul-seekers, thanks to its art and culture, its warm weather – and its magical beaches. But with all of that come droves of tourists, which means crowded beaches. Thankfully, SE Asia is chock-full of amazing beaches, many of which are still off the beaten path, if you know where to look. Tucked away in “tourist-free” areas, only the locals really know about these 10 beaches – and now you do, too. Shh, don’t tell anyone!
So grab your swimwear and let’s go!
Sao Beach, Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Located off the southwestern tip of Vietnam, the island of Phu Quoc does see some tourists, but there are still wonderful stretches of beach that do not see a lot of action, and yet are blessed with powdered sugar sand and crystal-clear waters. Enjoy the beach, then refresh yourself with a cold beer at one of the little restaurants with lounge chairs lining the shore.
Sai Nuan Beach in Koh Tao, Thailand
This incredible beach is nestled in the southwest corner of Koh Tao, far from the partygoers at Phuket. Here you will find a lush tropical jungle, rustic bungalows, and long-tail boats out at sea. Snorkel at your leisure without butting into another human head. You will encounter moon wrasse, butterflyfish, and lots of undersea wonders in this palm-fringed paradise.
Cresta de Gallo in Romblon, Philippines
There are lots of touristy beaches in the Philippines, but this gorgeous sandbar in the province of Romblon must be reached by a pump boat at the port of San Fernando, Sibuyan, which will carry you across the sea to Cresta de Gallo.
Rawa Island, Malaysia
Known as a coral island, it is a calm, discreet escape for those who want to admire the colorful marine life and healthy reefs. The azure waters are so clear you can see all the way down to the rocky bottom, and the sand is almost blindingly white.
Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka
This beach has a sun-baked tint that looks straight out of a Californian dream. Loved by locals yet still elusive to tourists, this crescent-shaped island comes complete with golden sands and amazing sunsets. Stand atop nearby Coconut Tree Hill for a jaw-dropping view of the waters below, where you just might spy a dolphin or two.
Big Wave Bay Beach, Hong Kong
While this city is among the biggest in the world, just an urban hike away over the mountain to the other side of the island lies a phenomenally gorgeous, and more importantly, quiet and pristine beach. Take in the grandeur and try not to think about that fact that the city is not too far away.
Pulau Perhentian Besar, Malaysia
Off the northeastern coast are the Perhentian islands – coral-lined and near the Thai border. Stay at any of the resorts in Palau Perhentian Besar, you’ll have your fill of most quiet and serene beaches in all of Southeast Asia.
Ky Ko Beach in Quy Nhon, Vietnam
Surrounded by dramatic cliffs to the east, this beach enjoys a splendor that has remained untarnished. Smooth sand will slip through your fingers, and the beach meets aquamarine coves where local fisherman drift along in their boats, plucking the day’s bounty.
Ngapali Beach, Myanmar
While not exactly unknown, this quaint seaside paradise deserves a spot among the beautiful yet highly underrated beaches in Asia. It straddles a fine line between intimate and immaculately preserved, with a laid-back charm that’s hard to find.
Kelingking Beach in Nusa Penida, Indonesia
Also named “T-Rex Bay” for the jagged outline resembling the giant dinosaur, towering limestone cliffs give way to virtual aloneness. We suppose the craggy path down to the beach which is ill-advised for non-hikers is the reason why this amazing beach remains a secret.