Palawan in the Philippines or Thailand’s Koh Samui, deserve their place in the ‘Top 10 most beautiful islands in Asia’ list. But some of the loveliest Asian islands are also ones you never hear about, until now. If you want to know their secret, all is revealed here.
1/10 Song Saa Island: a secret slice of paradise in south west Cambodia
Song Saa is part of the Koh Rang archipelago in south west Cambodia. It’s privately owned by Song Saa Resort, pioneers in sustainable travel, and community and cultural conservation.
The resort actually established the Cambodia’s first protected marine reserve on Song Saa. And today it cares for everything from the island’s ethereal beaches and wild rainforest to the phosphorescent plankton which magically lights up the sea after dark.
“Luxury that treads lightly”, is the resort credo. Unimaginably beautiful is the overall look. So it’s all the more delightful to find families are very welcome, and kid-shaped adventures are all part of island life here.
How to get to Song Saa Island
Song Saa Resort collects guests from Phnom Penh International Airport.
2/10 Havelock Island, India: one of the best kept secret islands in Asia
Imagine no international airport, no crowds, very little in the way of development, and a beach where elephants come to swim in the morning. If any of that sounds enchanting, it’s all waiting for you on Havelock Island.
One of the Andaman Islands, off the south east coast of India, Havelock is warm and sunny most of the year. There isn’t a lot to do here, although kayaking through the jungle is fun for kids. Alternatively, the exquisite white beaches, shallow seas and elephants on the sand could well be all you need.
How to get to Havelock Island
Fly to Port Blair, capital of the Andamans. The catamaran crossing from Port Blair to Havelock Island takes 90 minutes.
3/10 Pom Pom Island: Borneo tops the list for secret islands in Asia
Tiny Pom Pom Island sits just off the south west coast of Borneo. It’s surrounded by the Celebes Sea, and takes less than an hour to walk round.
There are almost more Hawksbill and Green sea turtles here than people, the coral gardens are spectacular and temperatures sit between 25 and 30˚ year round. Even rainy season isn’t much more than an occasional shower in July and August.
As an added bonus, Pom Pom is surrounded by another six islands and it’s a paradise spot for scuba diving.
How to get to Pom Pom Island
Flights from Kota Kinabula to Tawau Airport take 50 minutes. Semporna is 1 hour’s drive north of Tawau and sailings to Pom Pom Island take 40 minutes.
4/10 Flores, Indonesia: near neighbour to legendary Komodo Island
Flores is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands and just over an hour’s flight from Bali. It hasn’t really been discovered, yet, so you can expect to have its spectacular crater lakes and pristine beaches, sky-piercing volcanic peaks, ancient villages, and lush, unexplored jungle, almost all to yourself.
If you do see other visitors, chances are they’re here in search of Komodo Dragons. Flores is near neighbour to Komodo Island and a day sail to see the world’s largest lizards is an unforgettable experience for kids. If you go, choose a cruise with time for Komodo’s pink sand beaches and fabulous snorkelling.
How to get to Flores Island
Flores Island is an hour’s flight from Bali International Airport.
5/10 Con Dao, Vietnam: dream islands for wildlife loving kids
All the secret islands of Asia aren’t just nodding palm trees and deserted beaches. Some of them are just less visited, but really quite lively when you get to know them.
The Con Dao archipelago is a group of small, mountainous islands off the south west coast of Vietnam. Con Son is only inhabited islands and mixes escapist beaches with French colonial seaside towns and historical intrigue. Although if serious wildlife spotting is high on your island agenda, it’s also the place for giant black squirrels, rare geckos and rainforests packed with macaques.
How to get to Con Dao
Flights from Hanoi to Con Dao Airport on Con Son take from 2 hours, 25 minutes.
6/10 Sangat Island, Philippines: one of the most ethical islands in Asia
Sangat is the only limestone island in the Calamanian archipelago, north of Palawan. It’s privately owned by Tao Sangat Island Dive Resort and managed to almost impossibly ethical standards, so if you’re in search of exotic wildlife, pristine marine reserves, intact coral gardens, and heavenly beaches, this is the place to find them.
The island also has its own tropical fruit and nut plantations, an evergreen mangrove maze, and even protects one of the ancestral burial grounds of the local Tagbanua Tribe.
How to get to Sangat Island
Flights from Manila to Busuanga Island take from 1 hour, 15 minutes. 28 hours. Private boat transfer to Sangat takes 40 minutes.
7/10 Koh Kood Island, Thailand: just how you imagine a secret island should be
Closer to Cambodia than Bangkok, Ko Kood is just how you imagine secret islands in Asia should be. White beaches are sheltered by lush forest and resorts so sparsely scattered, it’s possible to believe yours is the one and only.
Ko Chang Island is just a short sail away, if you feel in need of a lively day out. But most families prefer to just take the occasional jungle hike, snorkel some and just bask in the tranquillity of Koh Kood itself.
How to get to Koh Kood Island
Flights from Bangkok to Trat take from 1 hour. Trat is an hour by ferry from Koh Kood.
8/10 Telunas Island, Indonesia: close to Singapore and a world of its own
Telunas Island is a switch-off-everything-and-just-breathe kind of place for families of escapists.
The island’s privately owned by Telunas Resort, but the atmosphere is more Indonesian family than luxury hotel. Overwater bungalows are designed so you can jump out of bed and into the sea. Kids can kayak constantly, swim in the pool or go explore the jungle, which really does feels like uncharted territory.
There are Wooden phinisi boats take you sailing and the beaches are beautiful. In fact Telunas feels like another world, so you might be surprised by how close it is to Singapore.
One of the easiest secret islands in Asia
Telunas Island is three hours by ferry from Singapore.
9/10 Koh Lipe, Thailand: one of the secret islands in Asia floating in the Andaman Sea
Part of the Tatarutao National Marine Park, Koh Lipe sits in the Andaman Sea, close to the border of Malaysia. It’s said to have the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, and you can have quite a lot of them to yourself.
One of those islands in Asia that’s just a little too far off the beaten track to appeal to tourists, authenticity is Kho Lipe’s trademark. The Marine Park’s coral-rich waters are great for diving and local sites include 8 Mile Rock pinnacle and Yong Hua Shipwreck. Kids who’re too young for scuba can snorkel in the clear seas, go on jungle hikes or just play on those beaches we mentioned.
How to get to Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe is about five hours by ferry from Phuket.
10/10 Apo Island, Philippines: conservation leader of islands in Asia
A few decades ago locals stopped fishing round Apo Island and turned their attention to conservation instead. As a result, Apo is now surrounded by one of the best protected marine reserves in the Philippines, and you’re more than welcome to visit.
The atmosphere’s beachy and easy going. Kids will love being able to swim with turtles and it’s a great place to try diving for the first time. However, if you want to spend a few days really living like an islander, homestays are wonderfully welcoming and very family friendly on Apo.
How to get to Apo Island
Flights from Manila to Dumaguete take from 1 hour. Apo Island is an hour’s sail from Dumague.
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