Eager to escape the 9-5 grind and find refuge among turquoise blue waters and sugar sand beaches? Sure there are the typical islands you could escape to, OR, you could explore some of the world’s most remote, undiscovered locations that promise a little slice of paradise. From the Philippines, to Yemen, Indonesia to Tanzania, here are a few gorgeous beaches to put on your bucket list for your next family vacation:
1) Malapascua, Philippines
A little island some five miles off Cebu’s northern tip, Malapascua in the Philippines has the postcard-perfect-beauty of tourist hot spot Boracay, minus the crowds. Popular with divers, Malapascua is known as the best place in the world to spot thresher sharks, a rare breed of shark with a distinctive large tail. Go wreck diving for the World War II era Japanese cargo vessel or head to the ledges of Gato Island (an island and protected marine sanctuary shaped like a sitting cat), where you can spot Manta rays and schools of squids swimming across underwater caves.
2) Socotra Island, Yemen
An Indian Ocean archipelago situated approximately 250 miles off the coast of Yemen, The Socotra Island of Yemen has been called “the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean” with animal and plant life found nowhere else in the world. Attracting the attention of researchers, they counted nearly 700 endemic and entirely unique flora and fauna species. Visitors can trek across the Haghier mountain range on a camel and enjoy a varied primeval landscape, from the 600-foot-high limestone cliffs, across the moon-like desert plains, to red sandstone plateaus dotted with otherworldly Desert Rose and Dragon’s Blood Trees.
3) The Îles des Saintes, Guadeloupe
Les Saintes is a small archipelago located just a ferry ride from Pointe-à-Pitre, the capital of Guadeloupe. Terre-de-Haut, the largest of the eight volcanic islands that make up Les Saintes, boasts a beautiful harbor with multi-coloured fishing boats, French artisanal-style bakeries and charming painted wood houses that look living gingerbread architecture. With white stretches of sand, azure-blue lagoons and impressive scuba-diving that has attracted the likes of Jacques Cousteau, it’s no wonder why The Guardian called Les Saintes “an up-and-coming competitor to chic St Barts.”
4) Saba, Caribbean
An extinct volcano covered with lush primary rain forests, Saba is not your typical white sandy Caribbean beach destination, but with blooming orchids, rugged hikes and charming mountain villages, it makes for an amazing destination. Rising steeply from the cobalt sea, this Dutch island is one of the smallest islands of the Netherlands Antilles, located just 28 miles from St. Maarten. With multi-colored corals and a huge diversity of marine creatures including grouper, sea turtles, and sharks, Saba is often ranked among the top scuba destinations in the world.
5) Atiu, Cook Islands
Atiu Island, also known as ‘Enuamanu’ (meaning land of the birds) lies some 100 miles northeast of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, located between Fiji and Tahiti in the South Pacific. The island is famous for its secluded coral sand beaches, fossilized coral known as makatea, lush jungles, and limestone caves once used for ancient burials. Nature lovers will enjoy spotting Kopeka, an indigenous bird with bat-like sonar who nests deep inside the volcanic islands’ many caves.
6) Zanzibar, Tanzania
An tranquil archipelago located some 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast in Indian Ocean, Zanzibar is the perfect relaxing beach vacation spot post Serengeti safari or grueling hike up to the snowy peaks of Kilimanjaro. The beaches of Zanzibar are paradise with gleaming white sands against turquoise blue waters. For an alternative to tanning, pop over to the old city and cultural capital of Stone Town for a captivating mixture of African and Arab culture. Stroll down winding alleyways, visit bustling bazaars selling exotic spices and indulge in freshly caught fish grilled beachside. This is one of my favorite spots in the world.
7) Nihiwatu, Sumba Indonesia
Live out your Robinson Crusoe fantasies in barefoot luxury at Nihiwatu (http://www.nihiwatu.com), a high-end boutique eco-resort on the island of Sumba, 250 miles east of Bali in remote eastern Indonesia. The property stretches across 437 acres ofprotected tropical forest and 1.5-miles of private beachfront that boasts exclusive access to some of the world’s best surf. Beyond catching the perfect wave, daily yoga sessions, fishing and facials, Nihiwatu has a strong responsible tourism philosophy and have set up charitable foundations to give back to the local Sumbanese community.
Yemen – Flickr Martin Sojka