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. We explore Asia’s fifteen most stunning paradise islands to visit in 2016.
Similan Islands, Thailand
Consisting of a group of nine little 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 20 to 30 meters visibility and warm weather all year, this is the perfect spot to watch gorgeous corals, imposing boulders and beautiful tropical fish in a peaceful setting.
Pom Pom Island, Malaysia
Located in the Semporna archipelago in of the east coast of Malaysia, the stunning Pom Pom Island is a small and tranquil speck of white sand land with literally no pollution, little fishing and no village 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.
Macleod Island, Burma
Located in the Mergui archipelago off Burma’s coast, the Macleod Island is still natural, mostly untouched, serene and full of simple beauty. There is only one resort on the island, the Myanmar Andaman Resort, which is more of a simple and rustic eco-lodge. The Macleod Island is ideal for those seeking tranquility in a natural paradise. The isolated island is home to pristine beached, incredible diving spots and unspoiled nature.
Koh Rong, Cambodia
Little development, unspoiled nature, rustic accommodation and 23 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 phosphorescent plankton in the sea. Stunning corals and exotic fish also surround the beautiful island.
Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
Located in northern Vietnam, the stunning Cat Ba National Park is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Halong Bay. Cat Ba Island is the largest island in the park, and the town itself is rathe 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 Cat Ba National Park.
Thought dragons didn’t exist? Think again. Komodo National Park is home to the unique 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 for being home to the giant monitor lizard, Komodo is also known amongst a paradise for nature lovers with numerous mountains to climb, and amazing diving sites around the stunning coral reefs.
Palawan, The Philippines
Palawan, an island in the Philippines home to lush green jungles, pristine beaches, El Nido and Coron, 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 ideal for diving and snorkeling and white sand beaches – it has it all. Stunning Coron is well-known for wreck diving as numerous Japanese warships were sunk in the area.
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, take a puff on a shisha pipe, and listen to music while watching the sunset sipping on a cocktail. The islands have hidden coves, beautiful sandy beaches, and crystal clear waters, perfect for diving and snorkeling!
Cebu Island, The Philippines
Located in the Visayas region of the Philippines, Cebu Island 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 southern and northern fishing villages such as Moalbal for those looking for more adventure and outstanding nature experiences.
Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India
The Havelock Island is a low-key but beautiful island amongst 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, the island guarantees an authentic island experience and beautiful scenery.
Akijima, often referred to as ‘Aka’, is an islet, part of Okinawa’s Kerama Islands in Japan. In the summer, it becomes popular with Japanese tourists, and less with foreigners who still know little about the island. Even in peak season, Akajima retains its charm with spotless beaches, a couple of surfers, and welcoming locals. Offshore, it is possible to snorkel, dive and kayak in waters rich in tropical sea life. Inland, tourists can visit a Ryukyuan heritage house.
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.
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% of known coral species and almost 1300 different fish species. Experienced divers can also enjoy the thrills of drift diving, and explore underwater vertical walls.
Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
Located off West Sumatra in Indonesia, the Mentawai Islands are a chain of approximately 70 islands and smaller islets, with Siberut being the largest one. 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-gathers. The Mentawai people are known for their body art and heavy spirituality and are happy to interact and share knowledge with travelers visiting their islands.
Baros Island, Maldives
Baros Island is part of the North Male Atoll, home to the capital Male. Baros, an island offering a small dose of Paradise, is home to the Baros luxury hotel . The quiet, peaceful and stunning beaches circling the perimeter are perfect for relaxing and sunbathing. With facilities such as a Dive and Water Sports Center, courtesy of the hotel, tourists can make the most of the clear, warm Indian ocean lapping the island. Or guests can submit to pure relaxation through the variety of spa treatments, complimentary morning yoga classes and infinity pool offered by the resort.
Baros Island, Maldives /Courtesy of the Baros Luxury Hotel, Maldives