By Michael Turtle
As summer heats up in Australia, everyone is flocking to the beach. While we’ve got some of the best coastlines in the world, there are plenty of stunning beaches to be found overseas. There’s a good chance you’ve heard of the famous ones – from Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana to Venice Beach in Los Angeles – but with the fame comes crowds. We’ve scoured the world to find some of the most beautiful beaches that don’t come with hordes of tourists. From the crystal clear waters of Indonesia to the lakes of South America, here are ten beaches to add to your bucket list!
Kanawa Beach, Indonesia
Not far from the island of Flores in the southeast of Indonesia is a tiny outcrop called Kanawa. It’s only accessible by boat and is used mainly by local divers. The waters are crystal clear with hundreds of varieties of fish and red starfish cover the sand beneath the surface. There are bungalows in the island you can stay in and meals are served on tables right on the beach.
La Pedrera, Uruguay
The coast of Uruguay is the summer hotspot for nearby Argentines but most head to the bustling Punta del Este beach which feels more like the Gold Coast than South America. But just a short bus ride away is a small beach area called La Pedrera. A few hotels and restaurants make this an easy place for tourists to stay but don’t expect crowds or anything fancy.
Rabbit Island, Cambodia
Rabbit Island is a thirty minute longtail boat trip from the town of Kep on the mainland of Cambodia. The whole island can be walked in about an hour and there is just one beach with accommodation – generally bungalows that just get an hour or two of electricity in the evening. The water is beautifully warm and the local restaurants keep their crabs floating ten metres offshore. With a snorkel, you can see your lunch before it is collected and cooked.
The Blue Lagoon, Malta
The Blue Lagoon is in the middle of a small rocky outcrop between the two main islands of Malta. It’s popular with local families who take their boats out there on the weekends and the summer months. The name is not a misnomer – the water is bright blue when the sun is shining down on it and you can swim in the roped off area while music plays from the vessels moored around you.
Chaung Tha, Myanmar
Myanmar was closed to tourists for many decades and now, as it opens up, most people are heading to the famous sites like Bagan and Inle Lake. But an uncomfortable six hour bus journey from the capital will get you the Chaung Tha beach. Although there are plenty of large hotels along the shore, it’s virtually deserted except for the vendors selling fresh food and kites on the sand.
Pink Beach, Indonesia
The island of Komodo in Indonesia has some of the oldest and most dangerous animals on earth marauding around it. But if you can put aside your fear of the Komodo Dragons, you’ll find the spectacular Pink Beach on one side of the island. The red coral in the water is crushed by the waves and mixed with the sand to give the whole beach a pink hue – hence the name. It’s hard to get to so there’s a good chance you’ll have it to yourself.
The Brazilian beaches are famous enough and for good reason. but if you’re looking to escape the crowds you can head to Paraty, about 250 kilometres west of Rio de Janeiro. The best way to experience the waters here is to hire a kayak and paddle to the nearby islands. The jungle reaches almost the whole way to the water and it feels like summer will never end along this part of the South American coast.
Naturally, you expect most beaches to be a sea level. High in the Andean mountains of Chile, though, it’s the lakes which are home to the sunbeds and surfboards. With the active snow-capped Villarrica volcano looming overhead, tourists sunbake on small black rocks. It’s not particularly warm up here but when the sun is out it’s hot enough to spend an afternoon at the lake’s beach and enjoy the incredible scenery.
The coast of Montenegro is a popular summer holiday destination for Russians and Eastern Europeans but it’s a hidden gem for the rest of the world. The old town of Kotor, set on a bay, has small beaches which give visitors access to the warm still waters. Mountains rise up around the bay and old stone fortifications have been built into the hills above the town. The occasional motorboat will go by but otherwise it’s peaceful and relaxing.
Ko Mae Ko, Thailand
This small island off the coast of Koh Samui, in the eastern waters of Thailand, is believed to be the setting for Alex Garland’s iconic novel ‘The Beach’ (as opposed to Phi Phi Island on the western side, which was where the movie was filmed). You’ll only be able to get here by boat and there is no way to legally stay the night. The beach on Ko Mae Ko has become more popular with tourists recently but there are dozens of nearby islands you can also explore instead.
Michael Turtle is a journalist and travel blogger who writes about his experiences around the world at Time Travel Turtle.