When it seems like you spend more time at the office than at home and you start having dreams about pushing papers, it may be time to escape from the city. Fortunately, Singapore’s ideal location smack dab in the middle of Southeast Asia means that it’s easy to escape the skyscrapers and subway and find the perfect sandy beach for a killer holiday. The following are a list of incredible beaches close to Singapore for every type of seaside seeker:
Nihiwatu, Sumba, Indonesia
The stunning beach at Nihiwatu on the island of Sumba is just an hour from Bali by plane, but worlds apart when compared to crowded Kuta Beach. Think empty white sands, traditional tribal villages and a small resort that only allows 10 people to book in a day. Then there is the incredible consistent left-hand surf break here that may just be one of the best in the world.
Get There: The best way to get to Nihiwatu is to fly to Bali (about a 2 and a half hour flight from SG) and then get a charter flight from Bali to the Tambolaka airport. The flight takes about an hour, and the drive from the airport to the beach takes an additional hour and a half.
Stay: The only place to stay on Nihiwatu beach is at the stunning Nihiwatu resort. Here you will find 12 beautiful villas with thatched roofs and private verandahs, as well as four suite villas with open-air bathrooms with sand floors. The resort has boogie boards and snorkeling gear for rent, but surfers will need to bring their own boards.
Sipadan, Borneo, Malaysia
This small island off the east coast of Borneo is a jumping off point to some of the best dive sites on the planet. Get under the waves here to see vibrant coral gardens, massive schools of barracuda, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, scorpionfish and hawksbill turtles. To protect the fragile ecosystem, only 120 dives are permitted a day and resorts have been banned. However, divers can stay on the islands of Kapalai or Mabul just a short boat ride away.
Get There: From Singapore you can catch a 2 hour and 20 minute flight to Kota Kinabalu, then catch a short 40-minute domestic flight to Tawau. Once you arrive in Tawau, head to the nearby town of Semporna where boats leave for the islands of Sipadan, Kapalai and Mabul daily.
Stay: The Sipadan-Kapalai Dive Resort offers accommodation in wooden chalets set on stilts over turquoise waters and next to a shallow sand bar. The resort offers PADI courses for beginners and advanced divers and can arrange all types of dives to the incredible sites around Sipadan.
FOR BEACH BUMS
Koh Lipe, Thailand
For pristine white sands, clear turquoise waters and relaxed beach bars, it doesn’t get much better than Koh Lipe in the Andaman Sea. This small island is all about sitting back with a cold drink and taking in the relaxed vibe, as there are three main beach areas with sheltered bays, chilled out restaurants and great views of the sunrise and sunset over the ocean.
Get There: The fastest way to get to Koh Lipe from Singapore is to catch a flight to Langkawi (about an hour and a half flight) and then head to Telaga Harbour where there are two ferries a day to Koh Lipe. The ferry ride takes about an hour.
Stay: There are many hotels, guesthouses and resorts on Koh Lipe. If you want to be next to the beach, check out the Castaway Resort where the spacious 2-level wooden bungalows are just seconds from the sand.
Boracay, the Philippines
Boracay may be a busy tourist hotspot, but for good reason. The beaches here are superb with fine white sand and clean waters, during the day there are plenty of exciting water sports on offer and friendly pubs serving up cold beer and grub, and by night the beaches boast sinful seafood feasts at lively restaurants, funky reggae bars and beach clubs where the music will keep you dancing on the sands well past your usual bedtime.
Get There: Tiger Airlines started a direct flight to Boracay which of course is the best route. Many airlines offer daily flights from Singapore to Manila, and the total flight time is about 3 hours. From Manila, you can take a short 50-minute domestic flight to Boracay.
Stay: There is no shortage of places to stay in Boracay, but if you want to be in the midst of the action, the Tides Boracay is a good bet. Here the rooms are clean and modern, there is a chilled out restaurant for cold drinks and snacks during the day and a sunset rooftop bar where DJs spin beats well into the evening.
Want to truly get away from it all and escape the crowds? If so, the Con Dao Islands are your kind of place. Head to the bigger island of Con Son for scenic coastal roads, blissfully empty beaches with golden sand and deep blue waters, and lush forests that just beg to be explored. There are only a few resorts here, but many offer bungalows directly on the sands and plenty of peace and solitude.
Get There: To get to the Con Dao Islands from Singapore, take a 2-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City, where you can then transfer to a domestic flight to the Con Dao Islands. The flight from HCMC to the Con Dao Islands takes about 45-minutes.
Stay: For utter relaxation and serenity, it doesn’t get much better than the Six Senses Con Dao. Here you can recline next to your own private pool at your oceanfront villa, get pampered at the world-class spa and dine on incredible seafood caught fresh that day.
FOR ADVENTURE JUNKIES
Railay, Krabi, Thailand
Krabi province, on the southwestern coast of Thailand, is known for its spectacular limestone karst formations that attract rock climbers from around the world. If you want to be close to the climbing action, base yourself in Railay where there are plenty of bolted routes up the rocks and top-notch rock climbing schools. You can also take day trips to waterfalls hidden away in the jungle, deep sea fishing trips and diving expeditions from your base here.
Get There: The flight to Krabi from Singapore takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes, then you can take a 30-minute taxi or bus to Ao Nang where you can catch a longtail boat that will have you in Railay in just 10 minutes.
Stay: Rayavadee Resort wins rave reviews for its natural setting amid banyan trees, ponds and tropical flowers. You can opt for a two-storey pavilion decked out in antique furnishings and all the mod cons you could ask for, or a beautiful villa with your own private pool.
FOR CULTURE VULTURES
Galle, Sri Lanka
Located on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka and surrounded on all sides by the sea, Galle is home to a beguiling collection of historic buildings inside the walled Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 16th century. Here you will find a heady mix of Portuguese and Dutch colonial buildings, fragrant South Asian spice shops, bohemian boutiques and art galleries, hawker stalls, and modern hotels in lovingly restored landmarks.
Get There: It’s a bit of a trek to get to Galle, as you need to take a flight from Singapore to Colombo, which takes about 3 hours and 50 minutes, and then a taxi or bus from Colombo to Galle, which takes about 2 hours depending on traffic.
Stay: After a long day spent roaming the streets of Galle, there is no better place to return to than The Fortress with its expansive swimming pool overlooking the ocean, lush green grounds and airy rooms with cool air conditioning, crisp linens and Sri Lankan motifs. Even better, the rooms are just a short walk to the golden sand beach.