With the tourism industry growing and more and more people choosing to visit foreign countries to experience new places and cultures old favourite travel destinations are becoming inundated with tourists. While this is wonderful for the local economy and makes traveling to these destinations easier, some travellers are moving on and looking for new places to visit. Places that are still somewhat untouched and off the beaten track. Here are 9 up and coming islands that are still off the beaten path.
Dili, Timor Leste.
Dili is the capital city of Timor Leste (East Timor). One might not associate a capital city with ‘off the beaten path’ but Dili (and in fact Timor Leste in general) makes it onto few travellers bucket lists. Perhaps the reason for this is because it is so remote, which makes it perfect for travellers who are looking for places that are a bit more untouched!
Dili offer many sight-seeing opportunities. Sights worth visiting include the Motael church based on Portuguese architecture and the Dili Cathedral- the 2nd largest cathedral in South East Asia. The Tais market offer a variety of handcrafts for sale. For some history a visit to the Archives and Museum of East Timorese Resistance, the Chega! Exhibition and the Santa Cruz cemetery is a must.
A good way to end the day is to take some sunset pictures at the Cristo Rei statue. It is the second biggest in the world and located on a hill at Cristo Rei beach, just east from the city centre. On the way to the statue there is a path leading to Dolok Oan Beach. It is lesser known with fewer tourists, a perfect reward for the hike up.
Wakatobi Islands, Indonesia.
Ok, technically Wakatobi is made up of four islands, but with amazing beaches and some of the best diving in Indonesia we just had to include all of them! The islands are part of a Marine National Park and home to the second largest coral reef in the world. The islands hosts more than 750 species of fish and 850 known types of coral.
The islands offer excellent dolphin watching for early birds (they usually swim close to the islands between 6 and 7 AM) and a variety of water sports from kayaking to kite surfing is available.
For those who want to wander even further off the beaten path a visit to Hoga Island is the perfect solution. It is still undeveloped with only a hand full of resorts and dive shops.
Pom Pom Island, Malaysia.
Pom Pom Island is located in the Semporna Archipelago off of the east coast of Malaysia. It is a macro diver’s paradise with plenty of small critters hiding among the reef. Hawksbill and giant green turtles nest on the beaches making them plentiful in the waters around the island.
The island has little development besides a few laid back resorts. This little island is definitely on top of the list if you want something away from touristy areas.
Koh Rong, Cambodia.
Despite being the second largest island in Cambodia, Koh Rong is so off the beaten path that it has no roads, only a few dirt paths. The island has a small number of homes (4 small villages to be exact) and guest houses or bungalows with sparse lighting at night provided by a generator between 6-11 pm. This makes it an ideal place to spot bioluminescent plankton and go star gazing at night.
As expected from a tropical paradise the island has crystal clear water, white sandy beaches and an abundance of marine life.
Havelock Island, India.
Havelock Island can be found amongst the Andaman Islands, across the Bay of Bengal. At Radhangar beach, Rajan the elephant often swims with visitors. A swimming elephant!… need we say more? Well, all right then. The island is super remote with no internet and mobile phone signal and very little nightlife. Still, there is plenty to do like scuba diving, jet skiing, glass-bottom boats and hiking.
One foot island, Aitutaki, Cook Islands.
While this island is uninhabited it has earned a mention on the list. Located in the Aitutaki atoll in the Cook Islands. Aitutaki has a population of 2000. One foot island gets a special mention as it is one of the most beautiful islands in the area. When visiting this island you can even get your passport stamped with a One Foot Island stamp!
From the air the island looks like a left foot. More interesting is the legend attached to the island. Fishing was prohibited around the island in order to conserve the area. A local fisherman and his son went fishing in a canoe in order to get some food for their family. They were discovered by law enforcement and, upon arriving to the beach the father told his son to run into the forest and climb a coconut tree. He then followed, covering his son’s footprints with his own (some tales says that he carried the boy). The law enforcement followed and discovered the father and killed him. Some tales say the dad escaped and came back for his son later. Whichever story you believe, One Foot Island is one of those magical must-visit places.
Yaeyama Islands, Japan.
The Yaeyama Islands are located on the furthest South Western point of Japan. It is so remote that Japanese is the second language of the locals who speak mostly Yonaguni. Isolation is the key word here but the islands offer excellent scuba diving- including the chance to see manta rays.
Monuriki Island, Fiji.
The 2000 movie ‘Cast Away’, starring Tom Hanks, was filmed on this tiny island. It is everything that you might expect from a tropical island with the added bonus of it being way off the beaten path. The island is a kilometre long and 600 meters wide and the home of the endangered Fiji Crested Iguana and a turtle breeding ground. Accommodation can be found on the nearby Mamanuca or Nadi Islands.
Con Dao Islands, Vietnam.
This chain of 16 islands can be found in a national marine park south of Vietnam. Con Son is the main island and the only island in the area that is inhabited. Here you will find winding coastal roads, hiking trails and the opportunity to visit the remnants of the French-run prisons which held Vietnamese during the independence movement. The waters around the islands offer plenty to see, including hawksbill turtles.
The world has so much more to offer, so much more to explore. For those who are searching for the unexplored, untouched, visit one of these off the beaten path places and let us know about your experience!
*A version of this article first appeared at www.zafigo.com