Updated: Nov 17, 2020
We imagine a post COVID tourism boom among beach destinations around the world, but which are Ocean Purpose Project’s best picks around South East Asia and Australia that are tropical havens with a purpose.
As a typical Singaporean, my idea of paradise is warm winds, sandy white coastlines and turquoise blue waters. It’s been painful to not touch the sand or step into the sea. Like most of the world in lockdown, I’ve been in beach withdrawal, fantasising on Instagram and Pinterest about my next holiday, counting down the days until I can leave my house again. From my internet deep dive, here is a list of some beautiful beaches around the world that you can consider visiting after this pandemic is over.
Bawah Reserve, Pulau Bawah, Indonesia
Pictures from OPP’s visit last year! Photo by: Ocean Purpose Project (taken from Instagram Page)
Located 2 hours away from Singapore, this luxury resort in the Anambas Archipelago top the list of beauty with a purpose. Comprising of 6 islands bound together by coral reefs that are marine conservation areas, Bawah Reserve turned a fisherman’s cove damaged by dynamite fishing into a prime ecotourism destination. All structures at Bawah Reserve are handmade from sustainable sources such as bamboo, alang alang grass and local rocks to minimize the impact on the environment. No plastic is allowed on the island, waste produced is sent to be recycled, all food comes from permaculture gardens and sustainable fish stocks.
Every morning I enjoyed a swim and Stand Up Paddle, having a chat over specially selected coffees with the warm and informative Anambas islanders who are recruited as staff. In between singing and learning more about the exemplary work of the Bawah Anambas Foundation, I managed to indulge in the 13 beaches around the resort in the crystal-clear lagoons filled with curious fish that love to take a nibble at me as well as baby black tipped sharks. The lush forest on Bawah is practically untouched, and you can hike through to enjoy the wild floral and fauna and amazing views of the islands. Every aspect of the island is thought through, from the rooftop bar among the trees, to the daily gifts of watercolour paintings and thoughtful messages from staff as well as open areas where guests (and monitor lizards) are allowed to roam.Add to that luxury of some of best cocktails and meals I’ve had in Asia, luxe copper baths and most of all the unparalleled level of service, they truly deserve to be listed as Conde Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Awards 2019.
Pink Beach, Komodo Islands, Indonesia
“Pantai Merah” or Pink Beach is the instagram hotspot of Indonesia, one of the only seven beaches in the world with pink sand. The iconic colour comes from microscopic Foraminifera that manufacture red pigments on surrounding coral reefs and intermix with the soft white sands.
A part of Komodo National Park, this area is home the original “kaiju” and world’s largest living lizard, the Komodo Dragon.There are a rich variety of corals and fish to be viewed off the beach and you can snorkel or dive in the turquoise waters to experience the pristine conditions of the reefs and its inhabitants. Be careful of the Komodo Dragons who also love swimming among the reefs and make sure to “social distance” from them...after all they are wild animals and this is their habitat. Top tip for photogs, sunsets are better than the sunrises!
Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand
Photo by: jcomp / Freepik
Railay Beach (which comprises of 4 beaches) in Krabi, Thailand has become a bit of a “been there, done that” among travellers looking for Thai Beach getaway. However during the coronavirus, sightings of leatherback sea turtles returning have given biologists some hope for the area.
Surrounded by beautiful limestone cliffs, this tiny peninsula in Krabi is the perfect getaway from the rest of the world. Made up of 4 beaches, Railay West and East, Tonsai and Phra Nang, you can only get to this remote area only by boat. Do some beach hopping and explore the 4 beaches of Railay, each with its own charms and activities. Diamond Cave on Railay East has beautiful formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and Phra Nang Cave features phallic shrines to a princess goddess, so that would definitely make for an unusual sight. The limestone cliffs are great for rock climbing, whether you are a beginner, or a pro. Definitely a great destination for the kayak and rock climbing enthusiasts!
Nusa Penida, Indonesia
Crystal Bay beach on Nusa Penida near Bali, Indonesia is famous for its crystal-clear waters and the opportunity to dive with Sunfish or Mola Mola, the heaviest bony fish in the world, which can reach up to 3.3 meters and 1.9 kilograms. If diving if not your thing, you can also surf some of the best waves during high tide from several different spots around the island. Nusa Penida offers visitors a trip back in time to Bali in the 1970s, before major tourist developments were built. This unspoiled area allows you to explore the island without squeezing with large crowds of other tourists and experience the true local culture.
Juara Beach, Tioman Island, Malaysia
Waters of Tioman Island (Photo by: Sree Lekha)
Tioman island is familiar to many Singaporeans as a wonderful place for diving, but this island has its fair share of beautiful beaches. Juara Beach could be said to be the best beach in Tioman Island, with a variety of activities to embark on. For experienced surfers, this beach is perfect for surfing, especially during the periods with more rain. If surfing is not for you, you can still swim and snorkel in the nice, clear waters. You can also visit the Juara Turtle Project to learn more about marine conservation and turtle nesting sites in Tioman Island.
Whitehaven Beach, Australia
Whitsunday Islands’s Whitehaven Beach have silica sand that is fine like power and a beautiful pure white which allows it to stand out from the crowd. The silica sand come from Quartz that are wearing away, creating the soft and cool sand that is amazingly comfortable to walk on. Other than the almost pure silica sand on this beach, Whitsunday Island is definitely worth the visit. Hill Inlet is a popular spot on Whitehaven, where the tides coming in and out form beautiful swirls of sand amidst the turquoise water, making it look like a painting. Hill inlet is also a nursey for lemon sharks and stingrays, and you can spot them, along with other creatures during your visit.
Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Sao Beach, which means Star Beach, is full of starfish in the shallow waters near the shore during September to October. Compared to the other beaches on Phu Quoc, Sao Beach is minimally developed with only a handful of shops and restaurants. This beach is best for someone looking to relax on a beach with pretty white sand and clear water. The many beach chairs and loungers around the beach is perfect for sunbathing while enjoying the scenery and breeze.
Beaches of Malapascua Island, Philippines
Relax at Malapascua. (Photo by Guide to The Philippines)
A thresher shark. (Photo by Thresher Shark Divers)
Located near Cebu, Malapascua Island is a much sought after destination by many travelers. This area is well-known for its thresher sharks, being the only place in the world where they are present all year. The thresher shark has a long tail that account for half its body size, and it flicks its powerful tail to stun prey. Monah Shoal off of Malapascua has cleaning stations, where cleaning wrasses tend to the sharks and an abundance of other creatures, making it a perfect dive site. Home to several beaches, Malapascua offers pristine waters for snorkeling and swimming as well. Each of the beaches in Malapascua offer their own unique experience to travelers – Bounty Beach is packed with resorts, shops and restaurants, Langub Beach is peaceful and perfect for relaxing. It will be definitely worth it to visit all the beaches and watch the sunset at day’s end on the island.
The beaches listed here are certainly beautiful and pristine, which can be hard to find in this time and age. Many popular beaches are filled with trash, and the pristine condition of the beaches destroyed by human activities. While staying at home during this pandemic, you can pass time by starting to plan a visit to one of these places. When you do visit beaches for your holiday once this is over, please remember to enjoy yourself, and also to keep the beaches clean! Throw your trash into a bin, not the ocean.