Need a getaway from, well, everything? If gorgeous white sand beaches, hippie towns and easy living sounds like your idea of an escape, head here for your own slice of paradise.
Low key and gorgeous, Havelock Island – part of the Andaman Islands in India – is best known for its beaches, in particular, Radhanagar Beach, with its white sand and clear waters set against a forest of palm trees. (A tip: Head towards the far end away from the entrance for complete solitude.)
North of Radhanagar Beach is Elephant Beach (pictured), or what remains of it since the 2004 tsunami when much of it was swept away. It’s still the best place for snorkelling on Havelock Island, particularly in the good-weather months between January and May.
NEXT: El Nido, Philippines →
El Nido is not exactly the easiest place to reach, but with effort comes tranquillity. The best way to arrive is via El Nido’s private airport which serves mainly guests of El Nido Resorts (pictured). The group of private resorts on El Nido aren’t exactly the easiest place to reach, but with effort comes tranquility in the form of turquoise green waters, ancient limestone cliffs and marine sanctuaries with countless species of tropical fish, coral and sea turtles.
There are over 50 pristine beaches in El Nido, and therefore it is easy to find yourself completely alone – every beach can feel like your own private beach.
NEXT: Jeju, South Korea →
The island has been hailed as the Hawaii of South Korea, though much less touristy. Downtown Jeju is urban and thriving, but the beaches and mountains provide for a scenic getaway for silence-seekers. There’s plenty to explore including swimming in the shallow waters, renting boats and fishing, and taking a walk among pine trees and around lighthouses which are famously shaped as horses.
And, plan your trip so you catch the pretty springtime azaleas or autumn leaves!
NEXT: Nikko, Japan →
Despite only being a couple of hours north of Tokyo, Nikko is a world apart from the bustling capital. It’s a luscious forest of mountains, waterfalls and some of the most beautiful ancient shrines in Japan.
Weekdays are extremely quiet as Nikko is regarded by the Japanese as a weekend or day trip, with the only real high season from October to November, when visitors come to catch the golden autumn leaves. Outside of this time, this gorgeous ancient location is virtually deserted and is the perfect ground for hiking and discovering.
You’ll love the breakthtaking shrines like the Tosho-gu (above) as much as the tranquil sanctuaries like the Kanman-ga-Fuchi Abyss – a wooden path lined with a collection of ancient statues, where the only thing you’ll be able to hear is the sound of adjacent waterfalls.
NEXT: Koh Bulon Leh, Thailand →
Still unknown to most travellers in Thailand, Ko Bulon Leh is a conveniently located, yet secret getaway. As the entire island can be covered in a 15-minute walk, the tiny paradise hardly contains an abundance of activities; so expect to indulge in plenty of meditation and soul-searching. There is very limited electricity and WiFi too, providing the perfect opportunity to switch off completely from civilisation.
There are a few local restaurants to eat at (don’t expect to find websites for them), and a bungalow can be rented on the beach. It’s very safe, so you may even find yourself falling asleep on the beach at night. Just remember to pack a good mosquito net and repellent – that’s probably as dangerous as it gets.
NEXT: Lamma Island, Hong Kong →
While not exactly secluded, Lamma Island is one of our favourite places to escape to and unwind. A 30-minute ferry ride from Hong Kong Island, it boasts natural attractions unspoilt by human activity and a hippie vibe in the town centre.
Hike along the trails and past the lakes, stopping to admire graffiti art in the fishing villages and local craft stores. Sok Kwu Wan and Yung Shue Wan (pictured) are the two main villages, and the island becomes more remote as you venture south. Mount Stenhouse has some stunning rock formations and is a great place to sit and just be. Most visitors come for a day trip, but there are a few guesthouses for overnight stays.
NEXT: Koh Rong, Cambodia →
Over 20 gorgeous white sand beaches make up Koh Rong island. Once a local secret, the island has been slowly discovered by tourists but still remains relatively secluded, which means more tourist-friendly establishments without the crowds of other mainstream beach destinations.
There are no roads and no cars, and urban development goes only as far as a couple of bungalows and guesthouses. For those keen to discover more, head inland into the jungles and venture into a world of exotic plants and wildlife, or out into the waters to get acquainted with Koh Rong’s vibrant marine life with a snorkelling sesh.
NEXT: Komodo, Indonesia →
Jurassic Park fans will adore Komodo, a quiet fishing village-meets-swamp in Indonesia for, well, Komodo dragons.They may be the largest lizards in the world, but they’ve rarely ever attacked humans, and the locals of Komodo have adapted to living with the wonderful reptiles.
Most of the dragons can be found in Komodo National Park, which has been dubbed one of the new “seven wonders of nature”. The park is gigantic with rugged hillsides, panoramic views of savannahs and thorny green vegetation everywhere. It concludes with white sandy beaches and the coral waters, which are ideal for divers.
NEXT: Pom Pom Island, Malaysia →
Pom Pom Island is a coral reef island, north-east of Sabah, East Malaysia. This small island isn’t even quite a village or town, but comprises just a few dreamy resorts and guesthouses.
The island is a nesting spot for Green and Hawksbill turtles and it won’t be long before you have an encounter with one of these magnificent creatures while exploring. In fact, the main activity on Pom Pom Island is diving, thanks to clear waters and excellent visibility. Non-divers can enjoy the relaxing scenery, beaches, and plant life.
NEXT: Havelock Island, India →
By James Wong, SilverKris, January 2018
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