Beaches in Asia
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Longest beach in the world (120km)
Inani beach, but actually all the way from Bakkhali river to Teknaf
It is a bit ironic that the longest beach in the world lies in muslim country where the ladies' idea of a beach outfit is a burqa, people swim fully dressed and certainly nobody sun bathes. This the-longest-beach-in-the-world beach does not just have one single name, instead every single stretch has a name of its own. The most famous parts are Laboni, also known as Cox's Bazar beach, Himchari, and Inani. The last one being the most charming of them all with local fishermen and boats looking like toy pirate ships. The beach is actually only the longest natural beach in the world, getting beaten badly by Cassino beach in Brazil at 240km long, but for some reason beyond us, Cassino beach does not officially count as one unbroken natural beach.
9km from the Vietnamese border
Angkaul Beach is so new on the travel map that neither locals nor travellers have figured it out yet. It is still just a sleepy fisher village among coconut palms and a beautiful natural coast line only broken by more coconut palms. The beach isn't particularly mind blowing, just a narrow strip of sand mixed with grass, sea weed and garbage from the ocean, but it is pretty idyllic and tranquil with locals drying starfishes in the sun and cheeky kids playing in the water. There is no official accommodation yet but one entrepreneur lady has put up the first beach cafe consisting of a few hammocks and a menu offering coconuts and sea food.
Sihanoukville is Cambodian's answer to a beach resort area. There are several nice beaches around what might one day turn into one connecting town when all the developments are completed. The main beach drag is the crowded Serendipity Beach, which slides into the deserted Ochheuteal Beach. It is a shabby version of Phuket with ramshackle deck chairs, aged jetskis for rent and an endless stream of beach kids, massage ladies, beggers and cheap draft beer. Some people like the edge and seediness of the place (all the middle aged men certainly seem to like it), while others might wish they were in picture-perfect Thailand. Serendipity Beach has a lively backpacker scene where expats, sex tourists and young travellers meet over more cold beers. If you want to escape all the buzz and beach hawkers, hit for easy going Otres Beach further south or one of the many tropical islands off the coast, like Koh Russei (Bamboo Island) or Koh Rong (Monkey Island).
Jesus Backside Beach
A short drive from Dili
Tucked away in a cove on the backside of the hoovering Jesus statue lies one of the best beaches around Dili. It goes under the precise but utterly uncharming name of Jesus Backside Beach. It is a long stretch of white sand with gentle aqua blue water. Even though it is in close proximity to Dili, it is untouched and has some very good snorkeling right from the shore – maybe even some of the best in East Timor.
Check the photo gallery for more Timor beaches along the northern coast.
Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan
The Gilis, as they are called, are three small palm fringed islands with long sandy beaches. They are surrounded by warm turquoise water with descent corals and excellent marine life, making it a world class dive spot, with equally good snorkeling with chances to see turtles right from the shore. The three islands all have a different vibe; Gili Air is the local island with more traditional life than the others, Gili Meno is the smallest and for those who want to chill, while Gili Trawangan is the party island with something for everybody. There are no cops nor traffic on any of the islands, beside horse carts and bicycles, and very little Bob Marley. Sounds like paradise on earth? Well, it is pretty darn close.
Off the shore of Labuanbajo, Flores
Just one hour away from Labuanbajo by boat, sits the island of Kanawa. It is the ideal place to disappear for a few days. The island is small and only takes about an hour to walk around. The beauty lies in the large hill in the middle and the surrounding mangroves around the backside of the island. The true greatness of the island is that the only sign of humans is 12 oceanfront bungalows and a restaurant (both very cheap). The island has great big patches of white sand to relax on and you never have to worry about noise disturbances. Take a walk out the jetty and jump in the water for a snorkel, and you will find world class reefs and an abundance of fish. It is the perfect getaway to forget about the rest of the world for as long as you want.
Why would anyone go to Kuta? It's touristy, the town is ugly and the beach is not even that nice! Well, because Indonesia's most famous beach area is pleasure zone. There is something for everybody, whether they seek style or sleaze. Potbellied, beer drinking Australians are rubbing shoulders with tattooed surfer dudes and blonde, Scandinavian girls on holiday fun. Even families on vacation are crowding up the narrow lanes that are packed with endless supplies of t-shirts, pirate DVDs and tacky souvenirs (like wooden penis bottle opener, why?). But it is Kuta, and that is how Kuta is!
As an alternative to stay inside noisy Padang, you can stay at some of the beaches both north and south of town. Long wide beaches stretch as far as the eye can see, only fringed by tall coconut palms. Thatched huts, used by locals for weekend picnics, are scattered in the palm shades. Simple beach accommodation and food can be found, but don't expect much company - besides fishermen and cheeky children, you will pretty much have the whole place to yourself.
It comes as a surprise to many that Sarawak doesn't have an abundance of tropical sandy beaches with clear blue water. Long stretches of Sarawak's coastline are covered in jungle, swamp, mangrove or rocks. However, patches of white sand do exist. In the western end of Sarawak, near Lundu, are several nice beaches where Pandan Beach is one among others. It's a long palm-lined beach with rocky outcrops at the ends. Keep in mind that it's a two-hour drive from Kuching, making it not the obvious choice for a day in the sun as there are beaches closer by, like on Damai Peninsula.
Pulau Perhentian Besar (big) and Pulau Perhentian Kecil (small)
Two gorgeous tropical islands with white sand, jungle cover centre and crystal clear water (and we mean crystal clear) with outstanding snorkelling. The small one, Perhentian Kecil, is Malaysia's answer to a backpacker beach scene with Long Beach being the popular hang out. Here you will find a long beautiful stretch of sand and palms dotted with restaurants, diving shops and cheap huts in less-than-adorable style. Keep in mind that things are changing very fast on the islands and there is a bit of gold-rush feeling to the place, which will probably leave the islands in a constant state of random constructions for many years to come. But compared to the islands of Thailand, the Perhantian islands are still very innocent and unexploited.