My Favourite Beaches After Eight Years of Travel


Hoi An beach

I was never really much of a beach person until I started travelling.

My delicate English skin meant that I could never spend more than an hour in the sun before feeling like I was dying, and I would always make sure to let everyone around me hear all about my suffering.

It’s two years later and a lot has changed. 

My tolerance to hot weather has increased dramatically, I can’t remember the last time I complained about it. I’ve become used to having sweat pour out of me every second and I am no longer irritated by sand and sun and salty water.

Beaches, that used to anger me so much, have now become one of my favourite places to visit while travelling.  

Here are some of my favourite beaches, in no particular order.

lonely beach koh chang

Lonely Beach, Koh Chang

Koh Chang was my very first Thai island, and Lonely Beach was the change of scenery I needed after three months in Chiang Mai. Koh Chang is one of the cheapest islands I’ve visited in Thailand and I was paying under $10 a night for a cute bungalow with ants that would hide in my shorts and bite me whenever I put them on.

Lonely Beach was where I had my first ever bucket, was where I had a steak cooked less than well-done for the first time, and where I ate barracuda, also for the first time. It was where I learnt how to properly relax, thanks to the multitude of hammocks and every single bar blasting out Bob Marley all day everyday. On Lonely Beach, I finally saw the appeal of sunbathing during the day and drinking at night and I had an awful lot of fun.

Like many people, I arrived in Koh Chang hating reggae and a week later left knowing all the words to at least a dozen Bob Marley songs.

Essaouira beach, Morocco

Essaouira, Morocco

My visit to Essaouira was poorly timed, with me managing to arrive right at the start of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival, which is held in Essaouira every June. Within a few days of arriving, the town’s usual population of 60,000 had increased to over 400,000!

With the medina getting crazier and crazier and the hassle and abuse increasing by the minute, the beach was the only place where I could get away from it all and relax.

I loved the beach in Essaouira as it was unlike any other I’ve experienced. The beach was clean and quiet with barely any people around and, being Morocco, those that were on the beach were dressed mostly from head to toe. As I walked up and down the length of the beach, I was surprised to not see a single bikini.

I liked it a lot. 

Had Yao Beach

Had Yao Beach, Koh Yao Noi

Most of the beaches on Koh Yao Noi aren’t great. Most of the sand is actually rocks and the water is shallow and near-impossible to swim in. Dave and I had heard rumours of a nicer beach towards the north of the island so we rented a scooter for the day and set off to investigate.

Just ten minutes after leaving our guesthouse we raced past a tiny wooden sign with “beach” scrawled across it in black marker pen. Having no idea if this was the beach we were searching for, we shrugged and turned our scooter to face towards the tiny dirt trail.

For the next 30 minutes, we wobbled around curves, urged the scooter over hills and attempted to dodge the branches and cobwebs that blocked our path. Several times we considered turning around and heading back especially as by this point, the path trail had all but disappeared.

It wasn’t an easy ride but I was glad we decided to continue on, as when we arrived we had the entire 3 kilometre stretch of beach to ourselves.

Yes, we stayed for the day and didn’t see a single person.

koh hong beach

Koh Hong

Located in Phang Nga Bay, Koh Hong is the closest I’ve ever come to finding paradise. The island’s protected by national park status and unlike places such as Maya Bay, which has a horrific amount of people, it actually felt like people cared about keeping Koh Hong pristine.

I was astonished when Dave and I arrived on the island and found that we had the entire beach to ourselves. This was by far the best beach I’d ever been on and there was not a single other person on it.

White Beach, Boracay

Boracay, The Philippines

I’ve written so much already about my beloved Boracay that I’m not sure how much more there’s left to say.

It was perfection.

Sunset on Otres Beach

Otres Beach, Cambodia

Otres Beach is my favourite beach in Cambodia, evidenced by the fact that a planned four day stay slowly stretched out into three weeks in total.

Otres Beach is beautiful and peaceful and has fantastic Wi-Fi, three of the things I value most in a beach. The beach was so much more quieter than anywhere else in Sihanoukville. There were fewer tourists, the beach vendors didn’t hassle and annoy you and I loved that the owners of the guesthouses had an agreement to turn off their music at 10pm, making for a peaceful evening with lots of sleep.

Otres Beach also had some of the most mind-blowing sunsets from the past two years.

Hoi An beach

Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An

After spending many years associating Hoi An with tailor shops and a quaint, beautiful old town, I’d pretty much forgotten that it even had a beach!

Given that I’d never really heard all that much about the beach, I wasn’t expecting it to be anything special. It was because of this that I was completely blown away. The beach was quieter, cleaner and prettier than I expected and it was extremely easy to escape the crowds and end up with your own private stretch of beach.

I spent an entire day reading, sunbathing, swimming and wondering why the hell I hadn’t come here sooner.

Black sand beach in Raglan

Raglan, New Zealand

Of the 40 or so places I visited in New Zealand, Raglan was one of my absolute favourites. I love chilled out beach towns as it is but in Raglan I’d never felt so relaxed! I’ve already planned to spend three months living here at some point in the future.

In Raglan, I ended up having one of my favourite days in New Zealand. I was grateful for the freezing cold ocean after scorching the soles of my feet as I hopped over the black sand but that was the only downside. I loved sitting and watching the surfers, reading a book and being amazed at the non-rainy New Zealand summer we were experiencing.

Tasmania wineglass bay

EVERY SINGLE BEACH IN TASMANIA

Seriously.

Tasmania is incredible and has some of the most beautiful untouched beaches I’ve ever come across. Driving up the east cost, I’d be asking Dave to pull over every three minutes as I spotted yet another amazing beach with not a single person on it.

If you love beautiful beaches with nobody on them then you need to go to Tasmania.

 

 

What do you make of my list? Are there any surprises in there? I’d love to know where your favourite beach is too so that I can add it to my list!

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46 Comments

  1. Chris
    July 26, 2013
    Reply

    Possibly one of my favourite posts Lauren – got to love a good beach on your travels!

    Raglan is an epic beach – did you make it to the point breaks at all? Beautiful spot to chill and watch the waves.

    Will definitely check out Otres in Cambodia next month.

    Bit sad Byron Bay in Oz or Mosquito island off Phi Phi Island didn’t make the cut though!

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      I… am not sure because I do not know what point breaks are. Is that surfing terminology? :-)

      And, well I only spent an hour at Byron so I didn’t think it could really make the cut, and I sadly haven’t been to Mosquito Island. Sounds… malarial? :-)

  2. July 26, 2013
    Reply

    Wow love all your choices. I would say a big shout out to Monkey Beach Penang Malaysia. If you want to avoid an expensive boat ride, then you have to hike 1 1/2 hours through the rain forest to it, which is probably why it is so excellent. Also situated in a national park. Apparently there is a lovelier beach in the park that is a harder hike to get to as well. Just stunning.

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      Monkey Beach looks lovely, and I was in Penang a few months ago! The hike put me off because it was so ridiculously humid :-)

  3. Rob - Hungry Escapades
    July 26, 2013
    Reply

    How amazing is Raglan?!! I too had the same experience, which was completely unexpected. The place is so chilled, I felt so relaxed. Despite the fact that it rained most of the time I was there it was still my favourite place in New Zealand.

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      It’s so great! I arrived having never heard of it and not expecting much… and within 5 minutes I had decided I wanted to stay for months!

  4. We LOVE beaches. It’s one of the first places we visit when we go to a new country.

    The Caribbean ones are our favorites. Everyone always associates the Caribbean beaches with a million people, but we have been in Barbados for 6 weeks and when we go to the beach it isn’t unusual to have it to ourselves or sharing with a couple of locals.

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      Nice! I’m hoping to get to the Caribbean within the next few months for the first time, so I’m looking forward to exploring some new beaches :-)

  5. Roisin
    July 26, 2013
    Reply

    I’m not really a beach person either, but I want to visit all of these beaches – they look amazing! Particularly Boracay!!

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      Boracay is one of the best beaches ever :-)

  6. I am such a beach person! I, too, have to watch my very pale skin. There’s something about listening to the waves, relaxing on the sand, and listening to other people’s chatter that just TOTALLY relaxes me. I would love to hit every beach on this list.

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      I agree, I get it a lot more now than I used to — it really is relaxing! :-)

  7. July 26, 2013
    Reply

    It’s a good job I’m going to the beach tomorrow or these pics would have made me VERY jealous!

    Beautiful shots! All on the list now!!

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      Ha, enjoy the beach tomorrow :-)

  8. July 26, 2013
    Reply

    great list lauren. i too tend to forget that hoi an has a beach. excited to explore when i’m there this fall & your previous post on it has something to do with that excitement!

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Becky. You’ll love Hoi An, it’s one of my favourite places in Southeast Asia :-)

  9. July 27, 2013
    Reply

    I second your feelings about Lonely Beach in Koh Chang. It’s certainly not undiscovered, but it’s enough off the usual tourist trail that accommodation prices are still reasonable, and the beach isn’t overly crowded. It’s definitely one of my favourite beaches in Thailand.

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      Definitely! It’s a lot nicer than the other popular beach on Koh Chang (White Sand Beach?) too. I loved how cheap it was!

  10. Great choices! I’m excited about the beach in Hoi An. We’re embarking on a six week cycling trip from Hanoi down to HCMC next week!! I think we’ll definitely need to take a break for some sunbathing in Hoi An :) We haven’t been to Borocay, but we loved El Nido.

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      El Nido is very high on my list — I can’t believe I skipped over it to go to Coron Town, which was, well, not great :-)

  11. Andrew Darwitan
    July 27, 2013
    Reply

    Hong Island is also the closest to paradise I’ve ever been. It belongs to the Krabi province and not Phang Nga though.

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      I didn’t say Phang Nga province, I said Phang Nga Bay :-)

  12. July 27, 2013
    Reply

    I have to admit that I am not really a beach person. However, after reading your post this might change. I feel inspired.

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      I guess visiting beaches in Southeast Asia instead of the crappy ones in England may have had something to do with my new-found love :-)

  13. July 27, 2013
    Reply

    Lovely! One of the beaches I have been wanting to visit is Boracay! Glad you have a post dedicated for this beach, I’m going there next year.

    • July 27, 2013
      Reply

      Nice! You’ll love it in Boracay :-)

  14. July 27, 2013
    Reply

    Love this post! I’ve been to raglan and it was so gorgeous! There were just a few people around and we loved it. I’ve also heard a lot about Boracay’s awesome beaches but that its getting increasingly crowded?

    • August 8, 2013
      Reply

      Yeah, Boracay is very crowded BUT it’s pretty easy to escape the crowds. There’s several beaches that not many people choose to visit and if you can make the effort to work 30 minutes or so on the main beaches it’s quite easy to find a quieter area.

  15. Delia Monk
    July 28, 2013
    Reply

    Glad to see you’ve included Hoi An. My friend and I spent our days designing clothes on the beach before cycling back to the tailors for fittings on the previous day’s designs and to submit the new ones. Bliss!

    • August 8, 2013
      Reply

      I did similar while I was in Hoi An. It’s such a wonderful place!

  16. July 28, 2013
    Reply

    I have only ever been to Huntington Beach in California so I can’t believe how gorgeous these beaches are!

    • August 8, 2013
      Reply

      California does have some beautiful beaches but there are definitely a lot more for you to see :-)

  17. July 29, 2013
    Reply

    I am salivating with beach love (and envy) right now :) xx

    • August 8, 2013
      Reply

      Hopefully you’ll get to visit some of these beaches on your upcoming travels, Toni! :-)

  18. Peter Lee
    July 31, 2013
    Reply

    I must say you have class in your choice. I admire your taste. Infact, I adore beaches too.

  19. Charlotte
    July 31, 2013
    Reply

    I’ve always been a beach lover, so loved this post – so glad I found your blog :). My favorite beach of all time would have to be the beaches in Rottnest Island, off the coast of Australia near Perth. Much more pristine than Sydney’s touristy beaches.

    Also, I browsed your blog and saw that you have a degree in Physics and tutor it now? Nice to see a fellow scientist/engineer that loves to travel!

    • August 5, 2013
      Reply

      Nice! I’m really keen to explore some of the beaches on Australia’s west coast :-) High five for science!

  20. August 13, 2013
    Reply

    Hey Lauren, I a currently in Koh Tao and think that Mango Bay deserves a mention.. Crystal clear water, lots of fish to snorkel with and golden sand :)

    • August 15, 2013
      Reply

      I’ve never been to Koh Tao :-)

  21. August 21, 2013
    Reply

    Hi, Lauren, I’m new to your blog and really enjoying reading your post! Since I’m a beach lover at heart I knew I would love reading your list of favorite beaches and I did. They are all amazingly beautiful. I think my favorite would be the beaches in Tasmania. I love the idea of a beach all to myself! Happy Travels!

    • August 25, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Barbara. Tasmania is a pretty special place :-)

  22. Tina
    August 22, 2013
    Reply

    Boracay is so beautiful, But according to Travel + Leisure it’s only the 2nd best Island in the world. Palawan is the new #1 and it’s from the Philippines as well where you can find EL Nido and Amanpulo.

    • August 25, 2013
      Reply

      Yep, I’ve also been to Palawan but wasn’t as impressed.

  23. Katie
    January 8, 2014
    Reply

    Great post although I am interested to know who told you that New Zealand rains all the time. We usually have long, hot, dry summers.. I lived in the UK for 7 years and New Zealand’s weather is certainly a lot drier and less grey! I loved the UK despite the weather anyway. Glad you enjoyed Raglan :)

    • January 8, 2014
      Reply

      That would be my Kiwi boyfriend who’s spent 30 years living in New Zealand ;-)

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