With crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, palm trees and lush green hills, surfing spots, incredible underwater life and some of the best diving sites, Asia’s beautiful islands are close to being heaven on Earth. They are the perfect answer for those seeking moments of relaxation and freedom out of the hustle and bustle of cities. Featuring some of the best beaches in Asia, these are the region’s most stunning paradise islands.
1. Similan Islands, Thailand
Consisting of a group of 11 archipelagos located off Thailand’s west coast in the Andaman Sea, the Similan Islands are stunning islets protected by the Thai government. Under the crystal-clear waters of this marine nature reserve lies a paradise for divers and snorkelers. With warm weather all year, this is the perfect spot to see gorgeous corals, imposing boulders and beautiful tropical fish in a peaceful setting.
2. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Located off the east coast of Malaysia, the Perhentian Islands are the most laid back range of islands to be found in the area. They are the perfect spot to relax, remain barefoot and listen to music while watching the sunset and sipping on a cocktail. The islands have hidden coves, beautiful sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, perfect if you are looking for places to go diving and snorkeling in Malaysia.
3. Pom Pom Island, Malaysia
Located in the Semporna Archipelago off the east coast of Malaysia, the stunning Pom Pom Island is a small and tranquil speck of land with no settlements besides sleepy resorts. Circling the island in the impressive turquoise waters are stunning coral reefs and a large number of fish species. It is not uncommon to encounter giant green and hawksbill marine turtles who use the island as a nesting site.
4. Macleod Island, Myanmar
Located in the Mergui Archipelago off Myanmar’s coast, Macleod Island remains mostly untouched, meaning it is serene and full of simple beauty. There is only one resort on the island, the Myanmar Andaman Resort, which is a simple and rustic eco-lodge. The Macleod Island is ideal for those seeking tranquillity in a natural paradise. The isolated island is home to pristine beaches, incredible diving spots and unspoiled nature.
5. Koh Rong, Cambodia
Little development, unspoiled nature, rustic accommodation and a number of stunning white-sand beaches make up one of Asia’s most divine islands: Koh Rong. Located an hour away from Sihanoukville in Cambodia, there are no roads on the island, and limited lighting at night. Under starlit skies, it becomes possible to spot bioluminescent plankton in the sea. Stunning corals and exotic fish also surround the beautiful island.
6. Cát Bà Island, Vietnam
Located in northern Vietnam, the stunning Cát Bà National Park is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Ha Long Bay. Cát Bà Island is the largest island in the park, and the town itself is rather touristy, with many karaoke bars attracting Vietnamese weekenders. But take a little ride out of town, and find the many golden beaches, boat ride options, dense jungles and lush green mountains offering plenty of treks with incredible views of the famous karst scenery of Cát Bà National Park.
7. Komodo, Indonesia
If you thought dragons didn’t exist, think again. Komodo National Park is home to the Komodo Dragon. Located between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa in eastern Indonesia, Komodo is a secluded and untamed Jurassic Park-like island part of the National Park. Besides being well known as the home to the giant lizard, Komodo is also known as a paradise for nature lovers, with numerous mountains to climb and amazing diving sites around the stunning coral reefs.
8. Palawan, The Philippines
Palawan, an island in the Philippines home to lush green jungles and pristine beaches, attracts intrepid travellers and nature lovers. El Nido is known to have one of the prettiest seascapes worldwide. From limestone karst to crystal-clear waters to white-sand beaches, it has it all. Coron in Palawan is an excellent spot for wreck diving, as numerous Japanese warships were sunk in the area.
9. Cebu Island, The Philippines
Located in the Visayas region of the Philippines, Cebu consists of a beautiful, long, narrow island with upland areas offering stunning views of mountains and seas and 167 surrounding islets. There are high-end resorts in tourist areas such as in Malapascua, Badian and Camotes, but also more modest resorts in fishing villages such as Moalboal.
10. Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India
The Havelock Island is a low key but beautiful island among the Andaman Islands in India. The island is charming and offers travelers the chance to experience rustic island life in a peaceful and relaxing environment. This means that there are no big chain resorts on the island and transportation is basic. However, Havelock guarantees an authentic island experience and beautiful scenery.
11. Akajima, Japan
Akijima, often referred to as ‘Aka’, is part of Okinawa’s Kerama Islands in Japan. In the summer, it becomes popular with Japanese tourists, but even in peak season, Akajima retains its charm with spotless beaches and welcoming locals. Offshore, it is possible to snorkel, dive and kayak in waters rich in tropical sea life.
12. Jeju Island, South Korea
Considered the Hawaii of South Korea, Jeju Island is a long-time favorite amongst South Korean travelers and honeymooners. Iho Beach stands out in the region with its combination of grey and yellow sand. It is a shallow beach, perfect for a good swim. Downtown Jeju is also a great spot for people watching and having a beer at one of the numerous bars.
13. Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja Ampat, also known as Four Kings, is a range of stunning islands located in Papua in eastern Indonesia. These islands are a haven for underwater enthusiasts with some of the world’s best diving spots. In fact, the islands are home to 75 per cent of known coral species and almost 1,300 different fish species. Experienced divers can also enjoy the thrills of drift diving, and explore underwater vertical walls.
14. Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
Located off West Sumatra in Indonesia, the Mentawai Islands are a chain of approximately 70 islands and smaller islets. The islands are a famous destination for surfing. They are also home to the Mentawai people; natives on the islands who live a semi-nomadic lifestyle as hunter-gatherers.
15. Baros Island, Maldives
Baros Island is part of the North Malé Atoll and home home to the luxury Baros Maldives hotel. The peaceful, stunning beaches circling the perimeter are perfect for relaxing and sunbathing. With facilities such as a dive center (courtesy of the hotel), tourists can make the most of the clear, warm ocean lapping the island. Or guests can simply submit to pure relaxation through the variety of spa treatments, complimentary morning yoga classes and infinity pools offered by the resort.