Island living is all about relaxation. That’s why we’ve hand-picked six remote islands where you can find your own private spot on the sand. Get ready for some serious down time.
Tioman's jungle-covered hills rise up behind bungalows
Pulau Tioman, Malaysia
Local legend says that a dragon princess was on her way to visit her prince in Singapore when she stopped for a swim in the South China Sea. She loved the water so much that she decided to stay and took the form of an island – Tioman.
It’s a romantic story (unless you’re the prince), and this romance can certainly be felt in the island’s pristine nature. Tioman is sparsely inhabited and covered in dense jungle and waterfalls, with giant monitor lizards traipsing the hills and technicolour fish darting in coral reefs. Hotels like Tioman Dive Resort have gear for hire, so you can explore the depths in between sunbathing sessions.
Winter is the best time to visit Koh Rong Samloem
Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
The beaches on Koh Rong Samloem are practically deserted, with nothing butbright white sand sliding into translucent water. You’ll spend your days lazing in hammocks and snorkelling in the sea.
The island has a far less touristy vibe than nearby backpacker favourite Koh Rong. Electricity is run on generators, WiFi is a laughing matter, and nightlife means sunset beers and sleeping. It’s all about relaxing here – just ask the owners at Lazy Bones, a chilled-out hostel with budget dorm beds, or the staff at Sweet Dreams Samloem, where the day beds make snoozing an all-day event.
On Pom Pom, it's likely you'll have the beach all to yourself
Pom Pom Island, Malaysia
It’s not just the name that’s cute – Pom Pom Island is adorable, an almost-perfect circle of decidedly perfect beaches sitting snugly in the Celebes Sea. You could walk its circumference in under 25 minutes, and there isn’t any human development except for a few resorts.
Pom Pom is best known for its world-class scuba diving – a vibrant coral reef fringes the white sand beaches, where Green and Hawksbill turtles nest. To coordinate diving trips right from your villa, try Pom Pom Island Resort. It even has a spa if you need extra help with your R&R.
Hike through the jungle to discover hidden waterfalls
Ko Kut (Koh Kood), Thailand
In a country as beloved as Thailand, finding somewhere less travelled is a rare thing. This lush island near the Cambodian border has spotty internet access and a population of only 2,000, so you can expect some serious privacy.
The interior is jungle-packed, with emerald waterfalls and hidden monasteries that are all but deserted – even in peak season. Spend your days lying on the sand, sating yourself with icy Chang beers and bowls of curry. For delicious food right at your hotel, Suan Maproa Ko Kut Resort has a Thai kitchen and beachside bungalows.
The landscape of Raj Ampat looks like Neverland
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja Ampat is a smattering of barely-populated islands stretching out to sea, each one more magical than the next. These shores contain some of the world’s best diving spots – but if that’s not your thing, the water’s so clear that you can even see the marine life without a mask.
Raja Ampat’s sublime scenery continues above land, the steep jungle-covered hillsides hiding caves and lagoons. It’s a place to truly get off the grid, and a homestay at Alter Native Stay in Tapokreng makes that a tantalising possibility.
A traditional Banca boat setting out in the sunset
Palawan Island, Phillippines
Palawan stretches like a long, fat snake between the western Philippines and Malaysia. Jungle-clad rock formations rise up from the sea, where fishing boats look suspended in air above the bright, clear water.
Divers can discover shipwrecks at the bottom of aquarium-esque bays and flitting fish in the reefs just offshore. On land, the most popular means of transportation is tricycle, so it’s easy to explore the food offerings at fishing villages. The remote Macapuno Beach Resort is perfect for drinking in the scenery, one languid hour after another.