Allow me to begin with an anecdote, the week begins solemnly on a Monday and Tuesday’s are no better, Wednesday brings with it some much-needed mid-week respite, where your inner voice tells you ‘you can do this, there’s only two more days to go’. The subsequent day fly’s by like a steady breeze on the East African, island nation of Mauritius. Then arrives sweet sweet Friday where the weekend excitement is palpable and only intensifies with each hour that passes by.
At this point you would be right to question as to why this man (me) is rambling on about his week, I mean isn’t this supposed to be about turquoise waters, pristine beaches, a bevy of coconut trees you ask? Bear with me for just another moment, now you have made it through a full work week without breaking down and now comes the part where you reap the fruits of your labour, or so you would think. With the weather touching 45°C without much effort on most days, on the two days of the week where you think you have boundless independence, you are sadly confined to your home until 7 pm (when the sun begins to dip beyond the horizon). Therefore, I feel this tiny guide to little known Asian islands couldn’t have come at a better time; seek the respite you need!
Flores Island, Indonesia
‘Flores’ derives its origins from Portuguese, meaning the word ‘flowers’. Rightly so, as it is dubbed as Indonesia’s ‘exquisite flower of the east’ and has long since existed in the shadows of its more notorious neighbour Bali. Once there, you can marvel at some of the many spectacles the island has to offer, beginning with a dip in one the islands many pristine lakes or waterfalls and if that doesn’t tickle your fancy then perchance a dive at one of the 50 remarkable dive sites will. Additionally, kayaking among the island’s mangrove shores is an option and lastly the enigmatic crowning glory of Flores is a collection of crater lakes on Mount Kelimutu, which change colours repeatedly owing to chemical and mineral variations in the volcanic gas.
Sado Island, Japan
Sado Island (Sadogashima) is among Japan’s largest islands and lies of the coast of Niigata Prefecture. Fascinatingly, due to its far-flung location, originally the island served as a destination for political exiles, nonetheless, that is not the case in present times. Though traces of religion and culture brought along with the exiles is very much present on Sado Island today. The rocky coves and cliffs, and emerald waters provide a spectacular setting for kayaking or diving (only for the brave hearted). If you do make inroads into the interior of the island you are sure to left mesmerized by the haunting cedar forests lying within.
If you are in the mood to be touristy then the Sado Gold Mine is now open to the public, the Senkaku Bay along the northern coast is a must as well as Toki Forest Park.
Camiguin Islands, Philippines
Given the moniker of the “Island Born of Fire”, the little-known jewel situated in the Bohol sea is truly one the most serene islands around and is also idyllic in size for exploration. With more than 20 cinder cones towering 100m or higher, Camiguin has more volcanoes per square kilometer than any other island on the globe! Place Camiguin next to Maui or Hawaii and it’ll look like a long-lost sister, very much in place. Unscathed by tourism, this is in part owing to the 10km Gingoog Bay splitting the island from the mainland and partly because those who visit feel a certain freehold about it and guard news of it like a concealed treasure trove.
Other than snorkeling, diving and sandy beaches the island presents the opportunity to indulge in jungle treks, climb atop a volcano and visit natural cold and hot springs.
Koh Rong, Cambodia
Set in the Koh Kong Province, at a distance of 25 km from the Gulf of Thailand, the island is about 78 km2 in size, 43 km of which are beaches! With four tiny villages and a little more than a dozen guesthouses, the term ‘island’ could not be truer of any other place. Wait till you hear the best bit, there is no traffic whatsoever! With no motorable roads, there are no land plying modes of transport on the island, for the few who may already be thinking, that can’t be convenient, that actually is the true charm of this place. Hard to get to, Koh Rong is even harder to leave!
The island combines the best in natural beauty as well as a teeny nightlife scene – there you have it – the best of both worlds.
Koh Yao Yai, Thailand
Falling halfway between Krabi and Phuket in the Andaman Sea sits one of the last untouched islands of Thailand – Koh Yao Yai.
We highly advocate you explore this gorgeous yet pristine tropical island before it falls into the clutches of large-scale tourism, the laidback feel of Koh Yao Yai is highly contagious.
The paradisiacal island has coconut and rubber plantations, sublime beaches, picturesque sunsets and a sea life anybody could get used to. A destination so magical, a trip to Koh Yao Yai will surely change you for the better.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Although, not really a beach, a voyage to Vietnam deprived of a visit to Ha Long Bay is an incomplete one. Located in the north of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is well regarded for its oceanic splendour and in many circles is deemed to be one of the natural wonders of the world.
Whilst it is popular amongst tourists, the Ha Long Bay archipelago comprises of about 1,900 islands, many of which till present day remain forsaken. Rest assured, if you search long and hard enough, you will find your island paradise.
Given its popularity, the area has no scarcity of bars, restaurants and hotels, so while you can easily lose yourself, civilization will always be a tiny boat ride away!
If a restful and tranquil beach holiday in Asia is what you seek, then the abovementioned are an absolute must in your consideration set!