Southeast Asian beaches not yet wrecked by tourism

Published:  4 Apr at 6 PM
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Many retirees’ dream destinations involve living within walking distance of a peaceful, sandy beach lapped by azure wavelets and untroubled by hordes of tourists.

Dreams of retirement as an expat often focus on beach life as well as warm weather and an affordable cost of living, but mass tourism has wrecked the dream in many countries, with Southeast Asia suffering more than most. Once the famous movie ‘The Beach’, went on general release, the trend began and hasn’t stopped yet, as seen in the temporary closure by the Thai authorities in the hope of regeneration of that famous strand of sand. At the same time, a viral video showed a diver negotiating a sea of plastic pollution just off one of Bali’s most famous beaches, confirming the seriousness of the pollution problem.

Luckily, both for expat retirees and eco-friendly tourists, there are a few perfect beaches in Southeast Asia as yet untroubled by the unending waves of visitors. Just an hour’s boat trip from Bali is the Gill Islands archipelago, with Gill Island itself offering peace, quiet and beautiful beaches. Motorised transport isn’t allowed, with getting around limited to cycling, on foot or via a horse-drawn carriage.

Myanmar’s Ngapali Beach lies in Thandwe and has community protection orders in place to safeguard the stunning coastline from the ravages of mass tourism. Local restaurants also protect marine life by encouraging sustainable fishing, and air and noise pollution are taken care of by only allowing electric moped transportation. Sunset Beach in Thailand’s Hat Chao Mai national park has very little development and is nothing like Phuket or Koh Phi Phi. Access to the beach is through a jungle, and the sandy strand is well-named as its sunset vistas are unbeatable.

Vietnam’s Dat Tham beach in Can Dao draws very few tourists and is protected by Con Dao national park. It’s a four mile walk from the park’s office to the crescent-shaped beach, but once you’re there you might be the only humans in sight. In the Philippines, the island chain known as the Isla de Gigantes offers basic accommodation and just a few amenities, resulting in it being ignored by the majority of tourists. The beaches are, at least for now, pristine and untouched.

Whilst it’s not possible to take up residence on, or even close to, the majority of these picture-perfect strands, finding a home from home within easy travelling distance isn’t that difficult for adventurous retirees for whom the beauties of nature are all-important.
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