Some of the most spectacular beaches of the world are located in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia or Thailand. This is my personal selection of top 10 beaches I had the pleasure to enjoy during my 9 month trip around the sub-continent.
10. Sumur Tiga beach, Pulau Weh, Indonesia
This 3km long white sandy beach is located at the east coast of Pulau Weh, a remote island in North Sumatra. This pristine peace of sand is about 5 minutes’ drive from Sabang town. Despite being quite accessible, Sumur Tiga is the ideal getaway as it remains fairly secluded, with a couple of resorts like Freddie´s and Casa Nemo, that cost about 25€ a night. Its beautiful clear turquoise water makes it a great place for snorkeling in the afternoon, when the tide is low and the waves calm down.
9. Sunset beach, Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
The best place to relax after visiting the Angkor Temples! The whole island of Koh Rong Samloem, situated 45km offshore Sihanoukville, has a tropical beach feeling. It has dozens of beautiful beaches, some of them still untouched by the tourism.
One of my favorites was Sunset beach, that lies on the western side of the island and its location keeps the crowds away. It is completely surrounded by jungle and takes about 40 minutes’ trek from the popular and touristy Saracen Bay. If you are not willing to trek the jungle, you can strike a deal with a fisherman and go by boat from M´Pai Bay or another part of the island for about 5 USD per person.
This super relaxed beach is full of hammocks and chilled out areas, courtesy of the resorts Huba huba (private 20$, dorm 5$), Sleeping trees (tents from 30$) and Robinson Bungalows (privates from 20$).
If you required some action while your there, you can practice your balance skills on the slackline or explore the underwater with The Dive Shop, that also offers accommodation in a basic dorm for 5€ a night.
8. Cemara Kecil, Karimunjawa, Indonesia
The archipelago of Karimunjawa was one of Indonesia´s best kept secrets when I visited back in May 2017. This complex of 27 islets are located 45km north of Central Java and its a great choice to experience the local lifestyle.
During my 10 days in Karimunjawa I had the change to take three snorkeling tours and explore the surrounding islets, including Cemara Kecil. This tiny piece of paradise left me speechless for its bright turquoise calm water and powder-like white sand. The island doesn’t have a pier or any kind of business, just a few hammocks spread around the beach and some private bungalows. There is a few snorkeling spots in the surrounding coral reefs.
7. Bamboo beach, Bamboo Island, Thailand
Koh Phi Phi is one of the most popular islands in the whole world for a reason. The famous island hopping tour its a must, specially the full day tour that takes you to surrounded islets like Bamboo Island and finishes with a night swim to enjoy the bioluminescent plankton.
Bamboo Island, also known as Koh Mai Phai, impressed me for its washed-up coral, pinky golden sand and pristine blue water. It felt very different to the rest of Koh Phi Phi Islands for its flat landscape and lack of palm trees. This small islet remains a gem despite being saturated with tourists and long tail boats, specially during the high season from December to March. The only building in the islet back in 2017 was a a basic snack bar hut.
6. Paliton beach, Siquijor, The Philippines
The charming and mysterious island of Siquijor is home of mangroves, sacred mountains and colonial buildings, as well as some of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines.
Paliton is a paradise beach with white sand, clear water and palm trees leaning perfectly over the shore. It remains relatively undeveloped with no buildings and just a few fishermen boats. This boats leaning on the horizon contributed to enhance the beauty of one of the most beautiful sunsets ever. The only downside of Paliton are the seaweeds covering the sandy bottom just a few meters from the shore, as I visited during the end of the monsoon season.
5. Clearwater bay, Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
Another piece of paradise in the Cambodian Island of Koh Rong Samloem is Clearwater Bay: a secluded, idyllic, turquoise water beach that is the perfect scape from the outside world.
Clearwater bay it´s only reachable by boat or by a 40-min trek from the backpacker village of M´Pai Bay. This 2km beach has no shops and only one hostel: Driftwood. A rustic backpacker hostel offering ded dorms (5$), private rooms (30$) and set your hammock or tent for 4$.
Driftwood has limited electricity, no Wifi and a basic food menu serving 3 meals a day. Therefor is convenient to stock up plenty of snacks and goodies before getting there.
4. Nui Bay, Phi Phi Don, Thailand
Another hidden gem in the Koh Phi Phi archipielago is Nui Bay. This tiny beach is like a smaller version of Maya Bay, one of the most popular beaches in the world after being the set of the Hollywood film The Movie starred by Leo Dicaprio. The film captures the indisputable tropical beauty of Maya Bay, a white powder sand beach with emerald waters, surrounded by palm trees and limestone karsts. While most people find Maya bay the most beautiful beach in Koh Phi Phi, I found Nui bay more charming and far less touristy. This mini Maya Bay is located in the north-west coast of Phi Phi Don and has similar features. It is only accessible by boat or kayak and has no accommodation facilities.
3. Saracen bay, Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
The crown jewel of Koh Rong Samloem is Saracen Bay, the most popular and developed beach of the island. Home of the main docking station, bungalows, lounge bars, swings, sunbeds and luxury resorts, this beach has the whitest and softest sand I have ever seen. The combination and comfort and picture perfect spots makes it an ideal place for a relaxed holidays.
2. Kanawa beach, Kanawa Island, Indonesia
Looking for an exotic and remote destination? Komodo National Park is a must visit place for adventure lovers and beach seekers. Whether you take a cruise or set your base somewhere in Flores, don´t skip the tiny islet of Kanawa, located about 15km east from Labuan Bajo.
Its fascinating natural beauty lays on the beaches and underwater world, being one of the best diving sites with stunning colorful fishes and beautiful coral reefs. The only accommodation available is Kanawa Island Resort, with basic bungalows from 50€ per night.
1. Napcan beach, El Nido, The Philippines
And Philippines host the most beautiful beach of the ranking: Napcan beach. An idyllic peace of paradise located 40 min north of El Nido in the full of wonders island of Palawan.
The charm of this Napcan lays on its breathtaking location, being surrounded by mountains and islets, that you can admire from a viewpoint nearby. With clear turquoise blue water, golden sand and perfectly aligned palm trees, this nature beach remains relatively undiscovered. There are just a few huts and restaurants selling Philippine dishes and tropical fruit smoothies. The sunset from Napcan is also not to be missed.