Southeast Asia is well known for its island getaways, with Bali, Phuket and Boracay among the most popular island locations in the world to kick back and relax.
But if you’re looking for other wonderful gems in the region, look no further than this list of treasures we’ve unearthed: some of the lesser-known, yet most beautiful island getaways in Southeast Asia that you should definitely include on your to-go list.
1. Nikoi Island, Indonesia
85km and 2.5 hours by ferry away from Singapore, Nikoi Island made it onto the Condé Nast Traveller’s list of “The World’s 22 Most Incredible Private Islands“. It is also known to be one of the most bang-for-your-buck private island getaways money can buy.
This 15-hectare private island accommodates up to over 50 people at any one time, with no plans to expand on that number. This limited count gives guests the privacy and exclusivity they need to enjoy themselves in luxury.
Relax along the white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, and if you’re bored of doing nothing, the island offers a wealth of land and sea activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, diving, and kayaking. Read our two-part recommended itinerary for Nikoi Island, starting here.
2. Ariara Island, The Philippines
Located in amazing Palawan, said to be the Philippines’ last ecological frontier, Ariara Island is a beautiful and exclusive private island getaway – it only accommodates up to 18 guests – you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
Apart from relaxing along its white sandy beaches and beautiful infinity pool, Ariara Island is situated in one of the most bio-diverse parts of Palawan, making it a perfect snorkelling and dive site.
3. Pamalican, The Philippines
Known to most as the popular Amanpulo private island resort, Pamalican is another privately-owned island measuring 5km by 500m (at its widest point) in Palawan, Philippines.
This is the perfect luxury getaway for those who would like to escape the hustle and bustle of life, and guests can enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving, cycling, nature walks and an amazing spa experience. Celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Beyoncé and Mariah Carey have reportedly been guests.
Visit between March and October and get a chance to catch turtles nest on the beach.
4. Racha Island, Thailand
Stay at The Racha on Racha Island, an 85-villa resort owned by a Singaporean, located a short distance off the southern coast of Phuket. Hop on to a speedboat from Chalong Bay for a 35 minute ride to one of Phuket’s most beautiful beaches.
Although its beach is public – most non-Racha guests would be day-trippers – it would empty out by late afternoon, leaving guests to have the beach to themselves. The views from the Andaman Sea would definitely add to the ‘paradise’ factor here. Activities offered by the resort include snorkelling, diving, various other sea sports, ATV rides and yoga sessions.
5. Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
While most travellers visit Cambodia to experience the cultural wonder of the Angkor Wat complex and its surrounding temples, Song Saa seeks to offer visitors a different side of the country.
A private island resort just 35 minutes away by boat from Sihanoukville, Song Saa is spread across islands Koh Ouen and Koh Bong. While the feel of this quaint resort is very similar to that of the Maldives – pristine and steeped in natural beauty – it doesn’t lose its Cambodian identity, offering guests traditional cuisine and spa treatments.
6. Togean Islands
This last entry is a little different from the others above – and it’s for those who are keen to seek out a more unique adventure.
The Togean Islands are commonly referred to as the Maldives of Southeast Asia, but comparing this island paradise to its more well known brethren does it a bit of an injustice, since it exudes its own unique character and charm. Don’t expect the accommodation to be particularly luxurious, but resorts here exude their own sort of charm that reflects the “undiscovered paradise” tag associated with the islands.
Of course, this archipelago located off the coast of Central Sulawesi is a little difficult to get to, but it is well worth the journey once you set your eyes upon its pristine white beaches and turquoise blue waters. Divers would love the clear waters and undersea life largely untouched by human development.
Its isolation also means that the Togean Islands are pretty untouched by mainstream tourism, and you’ll get to enjoy your trip there in peaceful solitude.