Jessica Farrugia is a Canadian/Aussie who's been living down-under since 2002.She loves travel, photography, blogging, yoga, pilates, walking, scuba diving, hot sunny days, lazing on the beach, eating sushi, and reading crime-fiction. ...Find out more!
Psst…heading to Asia and wondering where the best beaches to relax are, away from the crowds? Looking for something low-key and beautiful? In 2011, while my family and I spent 12 months backpacking through 8 countries in Southeast Asia, including Sri Lanka and India, we had our fair share of sampling the local beaches.
Here are our favourites:
Where: Located on the East Coast of Sri Lanka, north of the city of Batticaloa.
Characteristics: Once a very popular white-sand beach, the recently ended civil war and then the tsunami has taken a toll on tourism. While guest houses can be found nearby, accommodation right on the beach is very limited although there are several large-scale resorts in the making at the moment at Pasicudah Beach located around the bay. Kalkudah Beach is isolated and tranquil, but its strong tides can make it dangerous for swimming.
When To Go: These beaches are very popular on the weekends with local Sri Lankan tourists, so if you can, avoid Friday to Sunday and you’ll have the beach all to yourself.
Where: Set amid the famous Halong Bay in Northern Vietnam, Cat-Ba Island is often overlooked as throngs of tourists set their sights on doing a cruise on a Chinese ‘junk’. While this is certainly not to be missed, if you get time, a few days on Ca-Ba Island is also worthwhile. Cat-Co Beach is located about 1km south from the main town (Cat Ba Town).
Characteristics: There are actually 3 beautiful and secluded white-sand coves here—Cat-Co 2 is the most accessible. You can get a different perspective on the bay and it’s often void of any tourists. Fishermen can often be found using traditional net methods nearby, and if you are lucky, you can even get a massage on the beach from the friendly locals. You can rent loungers and purchase food here too; otherwise it’s very low key and basic.
When to Go: Beware that the local summer holidays are from June to mid-August, so it can be very busy then. We were there in late May and it was perfect.
Where: Located along the Central Karnatakan Coast on India’s west coast just outside the village of Gokarna, which is known as a ‘holy place’ among Hindu followers. Kudle Beach is located a short walk (approx. 1km) outside of the village or you can hire a tuk tuk to take you on the recently made ‘road’ to the headland, after which you must hike down to the beach.
Characterisitics: Surrounded by nature and accessible only by foot, the beaches here tend to be favoured by long-term budget travelers looking for an alternate, more low-key beach scene than that of Goa. The limited access to the beach ensures that it is relatively tranquil. In the season, there are a few guest houses which also have restaurants, situated on the beachfront. A few even have computer access.
When to Go: High Season tends to run from November to April, when the temperatures in northern India get too cold and the long-term travelers head south for the sun. Therefore, best to get there just before or after this, but too much outside of the ‘season’ and you’ll find most of the accommodation is closed. Beware, it is a popular destination for local tourists on the weekends too, so book ahead if visiting at this time.
Where: South Coast of Cambodia at the town on Sihanoukville, approximately 4hrs from Phnom Penh. Otres Beach is south of the main beach area, over the headland.
Characteristics: White sand beaches, .50 cent glasses of beer, $1 cocktails, nightly seafood BBQs, sun loungers and chairs by the shore, calm, warm water, friendly locals—need I say more? Otres is quieter than Serendipity Beach.
When To Go: Raining Season is from June-October, so the seas get pretty rough and it’s all quite quiet here with many establishments closed. High Season is in December. Weekends and local holidays also get extremely busy with Cambodian from Phnom Penh—be sure to book ahead during these times.
Where: Located on the northern tip of the island of Luzon.
Characteristics: White baby-powder-like sand; warm, clear turquoise-blue water; isolated and near deserted. A few hotels and guest houses line the beach to suit a range of budgets. Services are limited—there are no shops here, although there are restaurants.
When To Go: Pagudpud is a hot-spot for local Filipinos looking for a weekend getaway or for local holidays; outside of this, you’ll often have the beach entirely to yourself. Raining season is from September to March in this region.