Got a long weekend in southeast Asia to take advantage of? Consider these lesser picked beach destinations:
1. Ko Chang Island (Thailand)
Despite being the biggest island in Eastern Thailand, Ko Chang is still comparatively a quiet beach destination compared to its counterparts, Phuket and Koh Samui. Still, its allure does not fall short. With six well-known breathtaking waterfalls (Klong Nueng as, arguably, the best), a National Marine Park and a war memorial monument in the south of the island, there's plenty to see and even more to do.
Must-dos: Diving and snorkelling are popular choices for visitors of Ko Chang. But if the ocean is not your thing, there are also jungle walks and elephant treks to go on. For shopping junkies, get your fix in nearby Madoosika Bang Bao Plaza.
2. Mabul and Sipadan Islands (Sabah)
If you're looking to truly get away from civilization, head to Mabul Island; there, your seaside slumber will not be interrupted by the rumble of car engines because there are entirely no roads or vehicles (aside from boats) on the island. The island is also small enough to be explored on foot.
There are several resorts on Mabul Island, including homestay and backpacker options, and most of them include a diving facility. 25 minutes away by boat sits Sipadan Island, the only deep water oceanic island in Malaysia and also a famed diving spot with its rich marine habitat. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species inhabit the island's aquatic location. However, due to environment and ecosystem protection, resorts in the island itself are closed and it isn't possible to stay in Sipadan. Still, these islands are undoubtedly great options for those who enjoy ocean activites.
3. Lombok Island (Indonesia)
Ok, Lombok may not be secret anymore, but it is still known as the 'unspoiled' Bali. You can expect an arrestingly exquisite landscape to greet you in Lombok Island with its serene waterfalls, blue waters fringed by pristine sandy beaches and undulating silhouettes thanks to the hillside panorama.
Be sure to hike up to Malimbu Hill (if the name sounds familiar, yes, it is a play on Malibu, California) located in the West Lombok district. From this vantage point, the scenery is full-on enchantment. With a relatively small number of tourists (most preferring to head over to neighbouring Bali which is more easily accessible) and great trekking opportunities, you'll never run out of activites to partake in. Also check out the island's prided gem, Mount Rinjani, an active volcano that rises to 3,726 metres (almost as high as Mount Fuji!).
What are your picks? Tell us!