Summertime means one thing and one thing only: it’s time to hit the beach. In Hong Kong, fortunately, we’ve got plenty of beaches to suit every taste, but sometimes it’s nice to switch things up a little and leave the SAR for some fun in the sun. If you’re looking to escape for a long weekend (or longer), we’ve got you sorted with some of Asia’s most beautiful beaches and luxurious retreats.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Having escaped unscathed after the 2004 tsunami, tourism and development has been steadily increasing on Koh Tao but it remains free from the crowds that sister islands Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan attract. Divers will especially love it — Koh Tao boasts rare spottings of tropical fish, reef sharks, colourful batfish and turtles. Who knows, you might actually find Nemo and Dory here.
Cathay Pacific flies to Koh Samui International Airport within three and a half hours. From there, it’s a two-hour ferry ride to Koh Tao, during which you can dreamily gaze out at the Gulf of Thailand. Jamahkiri Resort & Spa offers panoramic views from its cliffside perch, deluxe spa experiences with hot stone massages, and your choice of traditional Thai or international cuisine. And of course, there are diving courses from beginner level to open water certification or private diving itineraries.
Jamahkiri Resort & Spa, 21/2 Moo 3 Koh Tao, Suratthani 84360, Thailand, +66 77 456 400, jamahkiri.com
Puerto Princesa, Philippines
If you’re thinking of a longer holiday at the beach, consider heading to Puerto Princesa on the Filipino island of Palawan. Away from the tourists at Boracay, you’ll have the powdery white sand, blue waters and palm trees to yourself. Be sure to take a boat ride down Puerto Princesa’s subterranean river to explore the caves. It’s the world’s longest navigable underground river and one of the new seven wonders of nature.
Cebu Pacific flies from Hong Kong to Puerto Princesa International Airport with a total flight time of three and a half hours (excluding transit time in Manila). Book your stay at the Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa (one and a half hours from the airport by hotel shuttle), and enjoy spectacular views of the beach and Sabang Mountains from your private balcony. After a day in the sun, enjoy dinner and drinks on the beachfront at the South Sea Restaurant, where dishes are made with organic ingredients fresh from the hotel’s own organic farm.
Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa, Sabang Beach, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines, +63 32 236 1001, sheridanbeachresort.com
Ho Tram, Vietnam
With Ho Tram’s sparkling emerald sea and pristine white beach stretching out for two kilometres, you can leave your worries behind and work on your tan. Get the adrenaline pumping with a variety of water sports, from kite surfing to ocean kayaking and even aqua fitness. The area has been slated for development into Vietnam’s next major resort hotspot, so go now for some tranquility before the crowds ruin it.
Cathay Pacific flies from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City in two and a half hours. Ho Tram’s premier resort destination, The Grand Ho Tram Strip, is a two-hour journey away by private hotel car service. Dine at the hotel’s Infinity restaurant for stunning ocean views, the finest Vietnamese dishes and cocktails to sip on for the evening. And get in a game of golf at the resort’s 18 hole course, set in a stunning landscape along the coastline.
The Grand Ho Tram Strip, Phước Thuận, Xuyên Mộc, Hồ Tràm, Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu, Vietnam, +84 64 378 8666, thegrandhotram.com
Kohamajima’s clear turquoise waters and healthy coral reefs teeming with aquatic life make it a snorkelling and diving paradise. You could even go stand-up paddling to observe the fish from above, then explore Maboroshi-no-shima, nicknamed “Phantom Island” because it only emerges from the water at low tide, or hop on a ferry and discover the other neighbouring islands. Make sure you find a secluded spot in the evenings to lie back on the beautiful white sand and gaze up at the stars.
Painushima Ishigaki Airport is Japan’s closest landing spot to Hong Kong. Hong Kong Express operates direct flights within two and a half hours. Take a taxi to Ishigaki Port, board the ferry to Kohamajima, and you’ll be at Haimurubushi beachfront resort within the hour. Here, you’ll be treated to the best of Japanese hospitality and cuisine. The poolside grill, alfresco bar and Haimurubushi Club Dining experience showcase local specialities such as Okinawan fermented foods and an aged Awamori liquer called Kusu.
Haimurubushi, 2930 Kohama, Taketomi-cho, Yaeyama-gun, Okinawa Prefecture 907-1292, Japan, +81 980 85 3111, haimurubushi.co.jp
Langkawi’s sweeping coastlines and lush rainforests are pushing it to the top of summer getaway destinations. There’s plenty to do around the archipelago, from exploring mangroves by boat to venturing into limestone caves or getting up close (but not too personal) with jungle wildlife. But if all you want to do is enjoy the sun, sand and sky, this is the place for you — the glittering waters and serene beaches are Malaysia’s absolute best.
Air Asia flies from Hong Kong to Langkawi International Airport with a total flight time of five hours (excluding transit time in Kuala Lumpur). There are a multitude of luxury resorts on the island, but we love the Four Seasons because its beach stretches on for a full mile. Indulge in a private dinner under the stars in the ornate Rajathani tent or sit back on the Rhu Bar’s hanging swings and sip on tropical cocktails.
Four Seasons, Jalan Tanjong Rhu, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia, +604 950 8888, fourseasons.com/langkawi