Popular destinations that are on everyone’s must-visit list are all well and good. However, if you’re looking for your own little piece of heaven, hit up these under-the-radar islands where every nook and cranny is worth exploring.
Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong
Known for its seafood offerings, beaches, and temples, Cheung Chau Island is great for a day trip from central Hong Kong. Sites to check out include Pak Tai Temple (dedicated to Pak Tai, the Taoist god of the sea), Tung Wan Beach and Kwun Yam Beach (both great for windsurfing), as well as Pak She Praya Road (where you can feast on seafood at several alfresco restaurants).
How to get there: Fly to Hong Kong International Airport and take the MTR to Central. From there, walk to the ferry terminal (Pier #5) and hop on a ferry to Cheung Chau. The journey takes about an hour.
Nusa Penida, Indonesia
Southeast of the ever-popular Bali lies lesser-known Nusa Penida, which is the largest of the three Nusa islands. It’s home to a number of gorgeous natural attractions, such as Angel’s Billabong, which is a natural infinity pool, and Broken Beach, a beach enclosed by a natural cliff arch. There also several amazing dive sites here, such as Manta Point and Crystal Bay; at the latter, chances of spotting the ocean sunfish (a.k.a. mola mola) are high from July through November.
How to get there: Fly to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali and head to Sanur beach. Here you can either arrange a private boat transfer with a tour operator, or take the jukung (traditional public boat). It takes about 90 minutes to cross the waters to Nusa Penida.
Nikoi Island, Singapore
This 15-hectare private island is situated less than 85km from Singapore. It’s essentially luxury at its best, with majestic villas, white-sand beaches, and a tented spa. Land and water activities such as kayaking and beach volleyball are available; best of all, many of these are free of charge.
How to get there: Fly to Singapore Changi Airport and make your way to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Take the ferry to Bintan, and from Bintan, take another ferry to Nikoi. The entire trip takes about two and a half hours.
Ogasawara Islands, Japan
If you don’t mind the 25-hour ferry ride from Tokyo, Japan’s Ogasawara Islands (a.k.a. Bonin Islands) are definitely worth a visit. The archipelago comprises about 30 islands in total, but the main ones are Chichi-jima and Haha-jima (it takes two hours to travel from one to the other by boat). Main activities here include whale watching, dolphin watching (you can even swim with them!), diving, fishing and kayaking.
How to get there: Fly to Narita International Airport in Tokyo and go to Takeshiba Pier. From there, take the Chichijima-maru ferry to the main island of Chichi-jima.
Possibly the most remote island in the Philippine region, Batanes is often referred to as the “Scotland of the Orient”. It’s peppered with towering cliffs and rolling hills, as well as gorgeous unspoiled beaches like Chadpidan Beach and Nakabuang Beach. Diving around here is splendid, but it’s only recommended for highly experienced divers due to the strong currents. Be sure to also check out the very unique Honesty Coffee Shop — there’s no one manning the store; instead, you drop your payment into a designated box.
How to get there: Fly to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and take another flight to Basco in Batanes.