It’s no secret that both the Pacific and Indian coasts of Asia are home to many beautiful and remote island paradises. While the best known of these, such as Borneo and Bali, get most of the visitors, there are many lesser-known but just-as-gorgeous islands out there to visit. Here are four islands that you haven’t heard of but are well worth your time.
Phu Quoc, Vietnam
The best way to describe Phu Quoc is pristine. The island is off the southwestern coast of Vietnam, and while it doesn’t see the same traffic as better-known islands do, it has miles of beautiful white sand beaches and untouched wilderness. Long Beach on the west side is a great place to stretch out and enjoy the sun and the surf. On the other side of the island is Sao Beach, which is a great place to find some solitude.
If you somehow get tired of lounging on the beach, you can always take a swim in the warm water. Phu Quoc is a premier snorkeling destination, and in the waters around the island you can easily find turtles, cuttlefish, and eels.
Most people don’t associate China with tropical island paradises, but this is a mistake, as the large country has many wonderful beaches to explore. One of the best is Hainan, an island province that forms the southernmost point of the country.
There are many beautiful beaches to explore, but Hainan offers far more than just a nice waterfront. The island is also home to a large rainforest, which covers over two-thirds of the interior. The highlight of the area is the three-hour hike to the top of Seven Fairy Mountain. Panoramic views await those who make it to the top, the last hundred feet of which require rope assistance.
Jeju, South Korea
While many Westerners likely haven't heard of Jeju island, it's a wildly popular vacation spot for travelers from around Asia. Located just south of the Korean peninsula, the island-province boasts lovely beaches, but its rugged, mountainous landscapes are what truly set it apart.
The island was largely formed by (now-dormant) volcanic activity, which can be seen in various craters and jagged coastlines. In fact, the island's Hallasan volcano is the highest point in all of South Korea, and it's UNESCO-protected in order to maintain its beauty. You can take a lengthy hike to the top of it, but if you're more of a land-dweller, Jeju also lets you take in its unique geological qualities from below the ground. The island's famous "lava tubes" are underground caves formed by — you guessed it — cooled lava.
Japan is often thought of as a destination spot for urban adventures, with some of the most advanced and exciting cities in the world. However, it is still an island nation and has some wonderful smaller islands that you can plan a trip around. The Yaeyama islands are among those hidden gems worth seeking out.
Yeayama is a part of the Okinawa prefecture, which is made up of more than 100 islands in between Japan and Taiwan. As the southernmost region of Japan, it is also the warmest. This makes Yeayama an excellent diving destination. A trip off the beach and under the water here will give you the opportunity to explore coral reefs that dolphins and manta rays call home.