You know the #islandlife is where you belong, and the oceans calm you in a way no amount of wine can. You love how the sea can go from a calm sheet of clear, blue glass to swelling heights, viciously smashing against rocky shores. The song of the waves beats Spotify without a question, and you respect that the oceans are alive.
Forget mainstream beaches crowded with drunken tourists, and instead, immerse yourself in some of mother nature’s best work.
Raja Ampat Islands, West Papau, Indonesia
Also known as the ‘Four Kings’, the Raja Ampat islands covers nearly 9.8 million acres of land and sea in Indonesia’s West Papau province, and is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. It is home to nearly 75% of the world’s species, both above and beneath the surface. This understandably makes it a diving mecca, and if you are a scuba diver, must visit at least once in your life time
Most of the resorts are located on any of the 4,000 islands scattered across the archipelago, many private, boasting luxurious over-water bungalows and pristine beachfronts. If you don’t have your scuba diving license (or freediving), this is the place to do it. Otherwise, there are plenty of other things to do, like exploring mangroves on kayaks, paddle boarding, snorkeling, hiking and on some islands, searching for the bird of paradise.
Amed, Bali, Indonesia
Forget the rowdy beachfronts of Kuta or hipster-gentrified Seminyak, and head east to Amed instead. This coastal fishing town trimmed with black sand retains the charm of traditional Bali, with just the right amount of modern conveniences. Tourism has yet to ravage this cute town, with the majestic Mount Agung ever looming in the distance. Divers can explore the famous USS Liberty Wreck and the serene coral gardens of nearby Tulamben, while hikers can trek up Mount Agung to witness one of the most beautiful sunrises you’ll ever see. If fishing is more your thing, you can try your hand on traditional outrigger boats.
Otherwise, just walking around the village and dining in the local warungs is an experience that will remind you that life can be simple.
The Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Go off the grid and literally sail into the sunset on a liveaboard in the Mergui Archipelago. Located off the coast of southern Myanmar, the area is home to over 800 islands and an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, and marine life. Diving only opened up in 1999, meaning the area is still relatively unexplored. Its underwater life flourishes despite threats from blast fishing, so note that you might hear explosives go off should you take a trip.
But it is well worth it. To be days away from WiFi or cell signal; in the middle of the ocean with nothing in sight but miles of sea that eventually meet the horizon. Diving and snorkeling are excellent here, and chances are, you won’t see another boat for days. This is not exactly a beach vacation per se, but you do get to stop at various islands in between dives, so there’s still some shore time!
Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s south coast is known for its pristine beaches and relatively undisturbed beachfronts. Escape from the stresses of city life into the village of Mirissa, fringed by a small tropical sandy beach from where you can watch some of Sri Lanka’s best sunsets with a cold drink in hand.
Mirissa Beach is also known for whale watching, where one might just be lucky enough to spot them relatively close to shore. There are operators that arrange trips out into the ocean to see them up close during the season, so you’ll want to check before booking your tickets! Other activities include trying your hand at surfing, it’s not-too-rough waves making it an ideal location for beginners.
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
An archipelago of 19 islands distributed across both sides of the equator, The Galapagos should be on every ocean lover’s bucket list. The islands and their surrounding waters form the Galapagos Province of Ecuador, the Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The islands are famous for their vast number of endemic species, both above and below the surface.
The islands are heavily protected in order to preserve its natural beauty and delicate balance of nature, with understandably strict immigration laws. Dive permits must be applied ahead of time, and you cannot stay longer than 60 days on the islands. Do note you will have to pay a $100USD park entry fee.
The trip from Singapore is a long one, but worth every minute crammed into Economy. Non-divers can experience the islands in other ways, like learning about giant tortoise hatchings (you’ll get to hold an actual egg), photographing the biggest population of penguins in The Galapagos, and birdwatching. If you’re quick, you just might be able to catch a glimpse of the majestic albatross or the blue footed booby.
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