My top 5 Beaches in Southeast Asia

Beaches Southeast Asia

Tropical beaches – for many travelers the highlight and a must have of a great trip. Especially for travelers from Europe, the US and other countries dominated by distinct seasons and long winters, an exotic beach with powdery sand, clear and warm water, lined by coconut trees is the epitome of a relaxing holiday. For some it is even the sole motivation for traveling to faraway places. During my epic journey across Southeast Asia I was allowed to discover some of the best beaches of the region and some of those I would like to share with you here on ESCapology. Be prepared for some surprises …


Nacpan Beach, El Nido | Philippines

El Nido, located in the northernmost tip of Palawan, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Located in the beautiful Bacuit archipelago, El Nido not only features a pristine underwater world and great diving, but also some of the best beaches of the Philippines.
Nacpan, located about 17 km north of El Nido town, is an endless stretch of cream sand beach lined by lush, green coconut trees. And the best thing about it: It is is still unspoilt, unexploited and without the usual crowds the other beaches around El Nido get. You won’t find resorts, hotels or restaurants – only one little beach shack which serves food and drinks and is run by a friendly local lady. You can get there by tricycle from El Nido town, but my advice is to rent a motorbike and go exploring by yourself. Nacpan is easy enough to find and you will pass beautiful scenery, local villages and a couple of other unspoilt beaches.

Nacpan Beach-El Nido

Walking along deserted Nacpan Beach. Where can you find a beach like this without people?

Nacpan Beach-El Nido

Motorbiking along Nacpan Beach – another great adventure in the Philippines


Pantai Bira, South Sulawesi | Indonesia

Pantai Bira was like an oasis for me. I had come from central Sulawesi, exhausted from long days and nights of riding buses and minivans along bumpy roads and trekking in Tanah Toraja. Since I had a couple of days to spare before taking the ferry to Flores, I figured Bira would be a nice place to unwind and recharge. It takes 4 hours by minivan from the Southern capital of Makassar to make it to the sleepy village of Bira. I heard good reports about the local beaches but what I found exceeded all expectations. A glistening white sand beach, clear turquoise water and palm trees offering shade for the very few tourists enjoying this tropical paradise. As I took a stroll along the beach, I couldn’t believe that mass tourism hasn’t found this place yet.

Pantai Bira, Indonesia

Pantai Bira – An undiscovered paradise

Pantai Bira-Indonesia

Serenity at Pantai Bira, Indonesia


White Island, Camiguin | Philippines

White Island is a place that truly lives up to its expectations. Just about a kilometer off the coast of Camiguin and a short banka ride away, you will find the horseshoe-shaped land mass with the promising name of “White Island”. The island is actually a big sandbar, whose size and form constantly changes with the tides. The powdery bright white sand is beautifully complementing the emerald and azure blue shades of the surrounding ocean. Like a buried treasure, parts of a big reef can be seen shimmering below the crystal clear water. And if you turn around, the beauty of Camiguin itself will unfold before you. It is just one highlight of the many the island of Camiguin offers. Camiguin was actually one of the top highlights of my three months traveling the Philippines.

White Island-Camiguin

White Island. Just a short banka ride off the coast of Camiguin.


Barangay Marcilla, Busuanga | Philippines

The beach we found after a long motorbike odyssey to the small fishermen village Marcilla seemed like a lost paradise. Coming from Coron town, we had driven for hours, only a crinkled paper map for orientation. At one point we almost wanted to give up. Low on gas and uncertain if we would ever make it, we kept going and were rewarded with this hidden gem whose actual name I still don’t know. When we arrived, the sun had just begun to set, painting the entire scenery with its warm and orange glow. We turned off the engines and just sat back, taking in the magnificent view. There was not a single soul on that beach. A rippling swathe of crystal blue ocean gently kissed the shoreline that stretched in a lazy curve. This was the reward for a long and uncertain journey and we enjoyed the short time we had before heading back to Coron.

Marcilla Beach, Coron

View from atop the cliffs. The hidden beach at Barangay Marcilla

Marcilla Beach-Coron

A lost paradise found after a long odyssey.


Tikling Island, Sorsogon | Philippines

Tikling Island can be reached by boat from the town of Matnog, which lies at the southernmost tip of the province of Sorsogon. It is a popular stop of island hopping tours which can be booked in the harbor of Matnog.  The beach is small and picturesque and the water is probably the clearest I have seen during my travels. It looked like painted or straight out of a postcard. The lush green vegetation lining the beach, the bright blue of the ocean and the yellow of the small stretch of beach made for an explosion of colors. Still mostly unknown, the absence of crowds was yet another factor which made this place so special. While there, make sure to also check out Subic Beach – yet another highlight and for some even better than Tikling.

Tikling Island, Philippines

Explosion of colors at Tikling Island

Tikling Island, Philippines

Straight from a postcard. Tikling Island beach


Last thoughts …

This list of beaches is just a tiny glimpse of what Southeast Asia has to offer. There are many more and I can just encourage everybody to complement the list via comments below. What is pretty clear however is that the Philippines, with four out of this list of five, is a prime destination in terms of beaches. I would maybe go as far as saying it is THE country if you are after beautiful and exotic beaches. And the great thing is that a lot of these, not only the ones on my list, are still pretty much unspoilt and undeveloped. That is hard to find these days and in my opinion exactly that makes a beach special: the absence of crowds, mass tourism and all the effects that come with it. That is the main reason why I chose the beaches above. I am sure many of you guys have been to amazing beaches which I haven’t been to, maybe not even heard of. What is your favorite beach? Feel free to let us know and share your favorite in the comment section. Hang lose, Philipp

Categories: Indonesia, Inspiration, The Philippines, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 66 Comments

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66 thoughts on “My top 5 Beaches in Southeast Asia

  1. chuck humbled and proud at the same time that 4 out of 5 of your best beaches in SE is from the Philippines..truly it makes me happy to know foreigners enjoy and appreciates what our country has to offer..come and visit negros on your next adventure.cheers!!!

    • Hi Chuck my friend, thanks for stopping by. The Philippines is great for exploring beaches…. that is for sure. Glad you liked the post. Take care and all the best. PS: Will try to stop in Negros next time 😉

  2. I’ve already been to El Nido twice but I’ve not yet visited Nacpan beach! What a shame! Haha

    I guess it’s another reason to go to El Nido 😛

    • Sure, go again and stop at Nacpan. You could even soend a night there in the village that is close. They have some small bungalows …

  3. kaiyewashere

    I’ve already been to El Nido twice but I’ve not yet visited Nacpan beach! What a shame! Haha

    I guess it’s another reason to go to El Nido 😛

  4. jacqueline

    that is so beautiful.

  5. Amazing and beautiful photos. Looks like you have the place all by yourself.

  6. Nice list, ill probably visit them when I go to Camuigin and El Nido! Thanks for the great suggestions 😀

  7. Awesome and breath-taking photos. Looks like you have the place all by yourself, I’m so envious. Hahaha!

  8. via

    im a filipino and yet i have never seen the beauty of my country…thanks phil…

    • Hi Via, I hope you will get the chance to explore your nice country. There is so much to see and do. Take care and thanks a lot for stopping by …

  9. abraham

    thanks for the visit.. hope to hear more from you. God bless Phil =)

  10. Pantai Bira looks nice, shame I missed it. I think any beach in Boracay, Railay in Krabi, Ngapali in Myanmar, and Datai Bay in Langkawi would my faves.

    • Hi Lee, I didn’t go to Langkawi…went to the Perhentians instead. Pretty disappointing I have to say… wish I could have checked out Ngapali but I didn’t have the time when I traveled Myanmar. I heard the Southern Islands in the Andaman Sea are supposed to be gorgeous and just like Thailand in the 70s. That is something I’d like to see …

  11. laurena

    Am a stranger to my own country but dreaming of exploring the wonders of it down south. My father from la trinidad benguet province which is nice and cool and mother from bicol so the beach is how I learn to swim and love it. Its so nice of you to feature our country and hopefully u come back again to see more of it. Your blog is awesome. Cheers 🙂

    • Hi Laurena,
      how come you are a stranger to your own country? Are you living overseas? In any case, thanks a lot for stopping by. That is great and I am happy that you like my reports. I myself hope to come back to Pinas very soon. Best regards, Philipp

  12. Ma. Alyanna Mae Capiral

    have you been to Panglao beach?

    • NO, not been there yet. Is it nice?

      • jack

        I’ve been a month ago and it was breathtakingly awesome especially Balicasag Island for Snorkeling and the Virgin Island. Thanks for much appreciation from a foreign like you. – try my place also, ILOCOS., god bless

      • Hi Jack… I haven’t been to the places you mentioned…. sounds very nice though. And yeah, I will try to make my way to Ilocos

      • Hi Jack, I would love to visit Ilocos one day. Hopefully soon …. let’s meet up if I make it 😉

      • jack

        i would be willing to tour you the ILOCOS someday PHIL, but the thing is, if i have time to do that on long day cause I’m working here in Manila. IF i have spare days and we don’t have any conflicting schedule, why not PHIL. i would be happy if I’ll tour you whole ILOCOS.

    • Yeah let’s see… Hopefully I can make it over soon. Take care

  13. Patch

    It’s a good feelings that you enjoyed travelling in the Philippines especially our tourist spots. I visited some of the places you mentioned in your blog especially Sagada.. If you come back, I suggest you travel to Region 6.. Main attraction is Boracay island, then going to Antique, my province and enjoy the various islands like Seco Island, Malalison island, mountain trekking, etc.. After Antique province, you can go straight to Iloilo city, Bacolod city and Guimaras island.. Only a suggestion.. By the way, your blog is awesome. Local media here already noticed it.. maraming salamat…

    • Hi Ptach, thanks for the tip. So far I have not heard many reports Antique and Seco and Malalison ISlands. That makes it very interesting. I like these less touristy places. Can you tell me more about it?

  14. makes me want to go EL right now..hahahaha

  15. Hi!!! I read that you’ll be coming back in December. And I also read that you plan to explore Dumaguete. I suggest Dumaguete-Apo Island-Oslob-Sumilon Island … It will be great to swim with the whalesharks in Oslob and jump to Sumilon Island after swimming with them. Take a peek at our Oslob adventure

    • Hi Rochelle, thanks a lot for the travel tip. I will check it out. I have swam with Butanding once in Donsol which was very nice … Thanks for your feedback. Phil

  16. Two thumbs up! One for the really lovely pictures, and two for featuring 4 out of five of our beaches. I have not been much to beaches. One that I enjoyed was a beach at Siargao Island, Surigao back in 2002, I think. That time, it was still unspoilt (I hope it still is). Not as beautiful as the ones featured here, though.

    • Hi J, thanks a lot for the thumbs up…. I nee to go to Siargao..I have heard a lot of great things about it … Not only for surfing but also the beaches and the serenity the place offers. Hopefully one day…. Take care my friend

  17. Mostly Philippines, yey!

  18. rodil

    yehey! its more fun and beautiful beaches in the Philippines.. thank you so much i am truly proud
    thank you so much Phil…

  19. Hi Phil,

    In you next visit in the Philippines, try to check out Calanggaman Island located at Palompon, Leyte. A very nice island too. We are so happy and proud that you’ve been featuring most of the Philippine Island in your list for the top 5 beaches.

    • Hi Jacque, thanks for stopping by. I have never heard of Calanggaman Island but it sure sounds intriguing. The parts of LEyte I have seen were really nice already so it must be a nice place. Thanks again for your kind feedback. Cheers, Philipp

  20. When you get the chance to visit our country again (Philippines) be sure to add “Caramoan Islands” in your list! It’s located in Camarines Sur. The survivor series reality show had been there because of its 10 unspoiled beaches. It’s gaining popularity already but the locals maintain its underdeveloped state.
    I went there last year, it’s so amazing! Feel free to visit my blog
    I’m one of your fans now! 🙂 Glad that you love our country! I wish to travel the whole Philippines as well. 🙂

    • Hi Angel, thanks a lot for the travel advice. I already have heard about Caramoan and it looks very intriguing. I hope I can go there sometime… it must be a great destination. I will make sure to check you blog as I am curious about your experiences. Thanks again and all the best. Happy travels.. Phil

  21. adrian caballero

    true! Nacpan – Calitang Twin Beach is one of the best beach in Philippines. Visit also Malapascua Isl and Virgin Isl near in Bantayan Isl (Both in Cebu) 😀 and thank you man for all the love in our country. 😀

    • Hi Adrian, I have been to malapascua – check my blog for the report – but not yet to Bantayan. Must be very noce though. Thanks for stopping by my friend and all the best …

  22. Che- Che

    Awesome. You gave me an idea where I will go. You really love andventure huh? Amazing! Nice pictures as well 🙂 Astig!

    • Hi Che, glad you got some ideas from my article. Adventure is sure nice and I hope I can have more. Glad you liked the pictures. Cheers, Philipp

  23. jasmin lascano

    while exploring the internet I saw your blog .. and it made me more interested to visit your site because it was all about Philippines. Yeah for me i couldn’t ask for more coz we have already beautiful places here even I stay in manila there are also beautiful places there or even just luzon area like antipolo, batangas, tagaytay and baguio. Thanks for visiting the philippines! I enjoyed reading your articles 🙂 god Bless !

    • Hi Jasmin, I am glad you find my blog and liked my articles. That is great to hear. Happy travels and I hope you can also explore some more of your own beautiful country… all the best

      • yeah I travel with my friend mostly every weekend because that the only available time for us so we grab the opportunity to explore new things and places Hehe! I really like your blog and thanks for liking our culture .. 🙂 by the way I like your photograph 🙂 .. it helps to showcase Philippine’s treasure 🙂

      • Hi Jasmin, good on ya for taking the opportunity to travel on the weekends. It is just too easy to stay at home and going out there to explore the world is a great thing and takes some effort. It sure is rewarding though. Glad you liked my photos..that is good to hear. All the best to you… Philipp

  24. I just booked a solo flight to Coron next year and I’m glad that I found your blog. I will definitely check out the beach in Marcilla, Busuanga 🙂

    Btw, your blog is very informative and inspiring at the same time. Keep it up!

    • Hi Anne, Coron will be good – lots to do and see and also easy to meet other travelers. If you head to Brgy. Marcilla, make sure to leave Coron proper early enough since it takes a little and you wanna make sure to spend some time there. I am not sure what the best way is to get there, as there is no public transportation going as far as I know. Maybe a tricy can tke you. But I am sure you will find a way …. Thanks for your encouraging words Anne, all the best.

    • True that…good luck and keep me updATED :::

  25. Hi Bro… thank you thank you for all the good things and admirations to our exotic beaches… my goal is also to travel all over the country and enjoy the lustful paradise Philippines has to offer… Amanpulo somewhere in Palawan is my most dreamt about place… it’s superb… however quite expensive… but you’ll surely enjoy that peaceful paradise… it’s a private resort so it’s definitely less crowded…

    • Hi Rjay, thanks for stopping by my friend. I am sure you will sooner or later make your dream come true. Honestly, I have never heard of Amanpulo..where exactly is it at? Private resort definitely sounds expensive though …

  26. Jerry Cruz

    These are greats places that makes me stranger of my country tanks phil

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