If you’ve thought about traveling to South East Asia, then I am SURE you’ve thought about which beaches you’re going to be laying on, basking in the sun and probably drinking a Pina Colada. Am I right? I know I am, I know…
But, there are so many islands! Which ones do you choose?
Well, here’s a slight rundown.
The most popular islands are definitely the islands of Thailand – Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Phi Phi. All beautiful places very deserving of their infamy. But, I must warn you, the secret is out about these islands. The tourism on these small slabs of land have skyrocketed and pretty much everything is paved for the backpacker. However, if you’re interested in scuba diving in Koh Tao, having a yoga retreat in Koh Phangan or seeing “James Bond Island” in Koh Phi Phi, then, of course, take a visit to these places. It is still well worth the visit!
However, if you’d like a quieter route, away from the buckets of alcohol and beach parties, then take a visit to Koh Samui. The beaches are breathtaking and there are plenty of beautiful resorts for those looking to spend an extra buck.
If I could recommend any island, it would be Koh Rong over and over again.
Koh Rong screams island life, not only because of its beautiful beaches and absolutely beautiful crystal clear water, but also because of how underdeveloped it is.
This might be unattractive to some, but islands barely touched by the hand of man are rare these days! If you want to go for a bush walk through the jungle, you will need a local with a machete to go with you to forge a path through the dense trees. THAT’S how “island” i’m talking.
The “downtown” is maybe the size of a football field and absolutely forget about paved sidewalks or roads. No cars, no motorbikes and no push bikes. Be prepared to walk in the sand everywhere and for it to inevitably be tracked into your bed.
Koh Rong is definitely not for everyone, especially if you enjoy the luxurious side of things. This is downright island living and is perfect for the adventure seeker who is looking for a little down time.
We all know Bali. It’s beautiful. It’s iconic. But, if you’ve been there, then you know it’s definitely packed. And, for good reason. Who can beat world renowned surf breaks, beautiful temples, bomb ass food and the stunning landscape. Bali has it all, except if you’re a curious traveler then Bali may be too comfortable.
So, for those who are looking to venture off the main island of Bali, take a look at these few islands.
The Gili Islands:
Technically, these islands are off of Lombok, but it is a very easy boat ride from Bali to these islands. For transportation information, talk to your guest house or hostel in Bali. Sending tourists to these islands is like clock-work for them.
There are three Gili islands: Gili Trawangan (Gili T for short), Gili Air and Gili Meno. Gili T is by far the most popular and has the most excitement, while Gili Air and Gili Meno are a bit more mellow. All are absolutely beautiful and are within a very short boat ride of each other. You could easily visit them all if you’d like.
I love Gili T so much that I have been there on two separate occasions…and I would definitely go again. This little island has so much charm.
Perhaps it’s because there aren’t any motorized vehicles (which I absolutely love), or maybe it’s because of the beaches (of course) and definitely because of the amazing scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities (does Turtle Point sound tempting?). If the ocean doesn’t float your figurative boat, then there are jewelry making, yoga and cooking classes. And, the food: DON’T get me started. Last time I was there, we ate fresh fish from the night market every night. Needless to say, it was absolutely delectable.
Gili Air and Gili Meno are both just as beautiful, but are far quieter. While Gili T is known as the party island, Gili Meno is known as the honeymoon destination and Gili Air is known as the most laid back of the three. If you don’t want to be near the party or any romance, then Gili Air is right for you.
Nusa Lembongan/Nusa Penida/Nusa Ceningan:
Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan are neighboring islands off of Bali and also offer an alternative to the classic Balinese vacation. All of these islands are far less noisy than Bali and all offer some rad holiday activities.
Visit Nusa Lembongan for the solid reef breaks, Nusa Penida for the scuba diving (manta rays, anyone?) and Nusa Ceningan for the perfect day of leisure motorbike riding, but be prepared for some sketchy roads!
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are connected by the infamous yellow bridge. I would not recommend staying in Nusa Ceningan, but rather just visiting it for the day. It is quite small, but the motorbike ride through the island’s jungle is extremely fun and scenic.
Nusa Penida, on the other hand, would require you to take a boat to it. You can stay on the island; however, be prepared, it is very quiet. Regardless, the treks are absolutely beautiful with amazing waterfalls and ocean views.
While there are hundreds–thousands–of other islands in South East Asia, these are the ones that I have visited. One day, I hope to make it to the Phillippines and Sri Lanka to experience their own worldly beauty. Which islands are on your list?