Tropical beaches – for many travelers the highlight and a must have of a great trip. Especially for travelers from Europe, the US and other countries dominated by distinct seasons and long winters, an exotic beach with powdery sand, clear and warm water, lined by coconut trees is the epitome of a relaxing holiday. For some it is even the sole motivation for traveling to faraway places. During my epic journey across Southeast Asia I was allowed to discover some of the best beaches of the region and some of those I would like to share with you here on ESCapology. Be prepared for some surprises …
Nacpan Beach, El Nido | Philippines
El Nido, located in the northernmost tip of Palawan, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Located in the beautiful Bacuit archipelago, El Nido not only features a pristine underwater world and great diving, but also some of the best beaches of the Philippines.
Nacpan, located about 17 km north of El Nido town, is an endless stretch of cream sand beach lined by lush, green coconut trees. And the best thing about it: It is is still unspoilt, unexploited and without the usual crowds the other beaches around El Nido get. You won’t find resorts, hotels or restaurants – only one little beach shack which serves food and drinks and is run by a friendly local lady. You can get there by tricycle from El Nido town, but my advice is to rent a motorbike and go exploring by yourself. Nacpan is easy enough to find and you will pass beautiful scenery, local villages and a couple of other unspoilt beaches.
Pantai Bira, South Sulawesi | Indonesia
Pantai Bira was like an oasis for me. I had come from central Sulawesi, exhausted from long days and nights of riding buses and minivans along bumpy roads and trekking in Tanah Toraja. Since I had a couple of days to spare before taking the ferry to Flores, I figured Bira would be a nice place to unwind and recharge. It takes 4 hours by minivan from the Southern capital of Makassar to make it to the sleepy village of Bira. I heard good reports about the local beaches but what I found exceeded all expectations. A glistening white sand beach, clear turquoise water and palm trees offering shade for the very few tourists enjoying this tropical paradise. As I took a stroll along the beach, I couldn’t believe that mass tourism hasn’t found this place yet.
White Island, Camiguin | Philippines
White Island is a place that truly lives up to its expectations. Just about a kilometer off the coast of Camiguin and a short banka ride away, you will find the horseshoe-shaped land mass with the promising name of “White Island”. The island is actually a big sandbar, whose size and form constantly changes with the tides. The powdery bright white sand is beautifully complementing the emerald and azure blue shades of the surrounding ocean. Like a buried treasure, parts of a big reef can be seen shimmering below the crystal clear water. And if you turn around, the beauty of Camiguin itself will unfold before you. It is just one highlight of the many the island of Camiguin offers. Camiguin was actually one of the top highlights of my three months traveling the Philippines.
Barangay Marcilla, Busuanga | Philippines
The beach we found after a long motorbike odyssey to the small fishermen village Marcilla seemed like a lost paradise. Coming from Coron town, we had driven for hours, only a crinkled paper map for orientation. At one point we almost wanted to give up. Low on gas and uncertain if we would ever make it, we kept going and were rewarded with this hidden gem whose actual name I still don’t know. When we arrived, the sun had just begun to set, painting the entire scenery with its warm and orange glow. We turned off the engines and just sat back, taking in the magnificent view. There was not a single soul on that beach. A rippling swathe of crystal blue ocean gently kissed the shoreline that stretched in a lazy curve. This was the reward for a long and uncertain journey and we enjoyed the short time we had before heading back to Coron.
Tikling Island, Sorsogon | Philippines
Tikling Island can be reached by boat from the town of Matnog, which lies at the southernmost tip of the province of Sorsogon. It is a popular stop of island hopping tours which can be booked in the harbor of Matnog. The beach is small and picturesque and the water is probably the clearest I have seen during my travels. It looked like painted or straight out of a postcard. The lush green vegetation lining the beach, the bright blue of the ocean and the yellow of the small stretch of beach made for an explosion of colors. Still mostly unknown, the absence of crowds was yet another factor which made this place so special. While there, make sure to also check out Subic Beach – yet another highlight and for some even better than Tikling.
Last thoughts …
This list of beaches is just a tiny glimpse of what Southeast Asia has to offer. There are many more and I can just encourage everybody to complement the list via comments below. What is pretty clear however is that the Philippines, with four out of this list of five, is a prime destination in terms of beaches. I would maybe go as far as saying it is THE country if you are after beautiful and exotic beaches. And the great thing is that a lot of these, not only the ones on my list, are still pretty much unspoilt and undeveloped. That is hard to find these days and in my opinion exactly that makes a beach special: the absence of crowds, mass tourism and all the effects that come with it. That is the main reason why I chose the beaches above. I am sure many of you guys have been to amazing beaches which I haven’t been to, maybe not even heard of. What is your favorite beach? Feel free to let us know and share your favorite in the comment section. Hang lose, Philipp