Far too often you book a peaceful getaway to a paradisiacal island and show up to a thumping city with a meager strip of dirty sand. The idea of the remote, tropical Shangri-La just never seems to match up with the reality. Today's undiscovered beaches are tomorrow's ultimate destinations. If you crave the solitude and serenity of an untouched paradise, here are 5 destinations that will truly match your wanderlust dreams. But get there quick, secrets like these can only last so long. Once the secret's out, the race is on to find next year's silent stretch of sand.
Ko Tarutao - THAILAND
The setting for the fifth season of the reality show Survivor, Ko Tarutao National Marine Park is everything that the other islands of Thailand are not: clean, quiet, peaceful, undeveloped, and protected. Comprising 51 islands off the Andaman Coast, the park's headquarters and the area's main government-appointed accommodation are found on the largest island, Ko Tarutao. 26 by 11 kilometers in size with 700-meter peaks, Ko Tarutao is blanketed in native forest where monkeys and hornbills flutter about. If you're craving thrilling jungle walks, kayak expeditions, and remote beaches with infinite solitude, Ko Tarutao is the place for you!
Aur Island - MALAYSIA
67 kilometers off of Malaysia's remote east coast, Pulau Aur (Aur Island) is a diver's heaven. With some of the clearest water in the world, this tropical aquarium contains immense coral gardens, walls and pinnacles, hulking shipwrecks, and a thriving colony of whale sharks (to amuse the divers, not to scare the beachgoers). On land, there are no roads or vehicles, just a small local population of fishermen and a sprinkling of dive resorts. The interior is blanketed in jungle-clad slopes and small, low-level coconut plantations, perfect for early morning hikes. Aur Island is an untouched paradise both above and below the surface.
Rabbit Island - CAMBODIA
Close to the mainland but far away in mindset, Cambodia's Rabbit Island is a 30-minute hop from the dock in Kep. This small, clover-shaped island in the Gulf of Thailand has rustic bungalows and rudimentary beach shack restaurants but remains predominantly undeveloped. The minimal action is concentrated on the main beach, leaving the rest of the island blessedly vacant. There are no geyser showers, no mirrors, no Internet facilities, and electricity comes on for just four hours each night. Rabbit Island is for those who want to get away from it all, relax, and enjoy an unadulterated island paradise.
Agonda Beach - INDIA
Back in the 60's, Goa burst onto the scene as the premier destination for secret stretches of sun-kissed sand. However, over the years, the beach bungalows of the hippies morphed into 5-star resorts for the yuppies and the covert beaches of Goa became package-tour destinations. But, all is not lost. There are still a few stretches of this Portuguese-flavored Indian oasis where development has yet to develop. Agonda Beach, 8 kilometers north of popular Palolem, remains a bungalow bum's dream. With an amiable Catholic community, affordable accommodation, and a quiet, palm-lined perimeter, Agonda is the place to unwind in India.
Phu Quoc - VIETNAM
Phu Quoc might not be the secret it used to be, but there is still enough deserted white sand to spare on Vietnam's largest island. The exterior is awash with untouched reefs, while the interior boasts protected forests and dirt roads that beg to be explored on motorbike. On the southern tip lies the An Thoi Islands, navigable by boat for a day of swimming, fishing, and snorkeling. Phu Quoc is one of the pricer places in Vietnam, but affordable beachfront accommodation can be found. Get there soon because Phu Quoc is gearing up to become Vietnam's next big tourist destination.