If you’re in Canada, you’ve still got a solid four to five (to six) months of cold weather ahead of you. If you’re not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet (is this getting depressing?), now may be the perfect time to book that beach vacation you’ve been considering.
But don’t be another tourist in the crowds of Cancun, Waikiki, Miami, or Dominican Republic. There are so many stunning beaches across the world that the masses haven’t discovered quite yet — so you need to get there before they do!
Here are 13 off the beaten path beach destinations that you haven’t considered for your winter vacation… until you’ve read this list!
Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Tourists have definitely caught on to the tropical oasis that is Bali, but unless your priority to this winter is to party with heaps of Aussies this holiday season, there are other paradises in Indonesia to consider for your getaway.
An hour-long flight away from Bali lies the charming town of Labuan Bajo, your gateway to Komodo National Park. Dotted with majestic islands and pristine beaches including the infamous Pink Beach, the park is one of the world’s best spots to snorkel or dive with manta rays, go hiking, and chase waterfalls. Make sure to check out the Komodo dragons while you’re there.
Diani Beach, Kenya
The coastline of Kenya offers a beautiful getaway with all the off-the-beaten-path allure that you are craving this holiday season. Set yourself up at the white-sand tropical paradise of Diani Beach just south of Mombasa, for an exotic getaway that you won’t regret.
Ilha Grande, Brazil
A few hours’ boat ride off the coast of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil there lies a little slice of paradise known as Ilha Grande. With spectacular white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, lush mountain peaks, and the chillest beach bars, you may never want to go back to the mainland. With no motorized vehicles, very few ATMs and spotty WiFi, if you’re looking for a place that’s off the grid, this is it.
Lake Kivu, Rwanda
Having miraculously rebuilt itself after the 1994 genocide, Rwanda is now one of the safest countries in Africa, and its capital Kigali is the cleanest city in the continent. Known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” the Rwandan countryside is absolutely stunning and a few hours’ road trip out of Kigali will land you in the remote, tranquil paradise of Lake Kivu, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although swimming isn’t recommended due to a (low) parasite risk, this is the most peaceful place to sit back at one of the resorts lining the lake and take in the breathtaking views.
If Lebanon isn’t on your wanderlust radar yet, it absolutely should be. Coined the “Paris of the Middle East,” its capital Beirut is charming, friendly, and beautiful. Come here for awesome beaches, mountains, delicious wine, delicious food to go with that wine, and a bumping party scene — starting with the beach clubs.
Coron, The Philippines
Tourists have discovered the beaches of Boracay, and they’re catching onto the island-clad paradise of El Nido. But El Nido’s sister Coron, just a four-hour ferry ride away along the coast of Palawan, still retains that untouched local feel.
The island tours departing from Coron town will take you to the bluest water and most picturesque natural scenery that you will ever see. Make sure to check out the Blue Lagoon and Kayangan Lake, and prepare to be amazed.
Turtle Island, Malaysia
Located an hour off the coast of Sabah in Borneo, Selingan Island aka Turtle Island is dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles. It’s one of the unique places on Earth where you can actually watch the baby turtles scurry off to sea for the first time. With perfect snorkelling conditions, this spot is an ideal vacation destination for the adventurous family. With a limit of approximately 50 visitors a night and no WiFi signal in sight, this one will satisfy your craving to get off the beaten path.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
A short boat ride away from the mainland of Bali, the Gili Islands are certainly on the radar of many tourists, but their laid-back island vibes and horse-drawn carts or bikes in lieu of motorized vehicles certainly make these islands feel off the beaten path. Gili Air and Gili Meno are slightly more untouched than the party-centric Gili T, but any of these islands will certainly feel like a nice little escape from civilization.
If you think picture-perfect beaches and full moon parties are only found in Thailand, allow us to introduce you to your new favourite getaway: Zanzibar.
Africa should be on every traveller’s bucket list, and with Zanzibar being a very foreigner-friendly option, you are going to want to check this tropical island out ASAP. The beaches are e-p-i-c. Our spidey senses are telling us that this up-and-coming hotspot has swarms of thirsty tourists coming in the near future, and you’ll want to get in before the masses.
You’re sure to meet other adventurous young travellers at Kendwa Rocks Beach Hotel, which hosts Africa’s most epic beach party on or around the Saturday closest to the full moon of every month.
Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is slowly becoming on the radar of every travel enthusiast, and what better time than now to explore this rugged and beautiful land before it becomes overrun with tourism?
Frolic on the tropical shores of Mirissa Beach for a perfect mix of chilled out and party vibes, and then explore your way through the rest of the country.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Koh Tao is the slightly more mature older sister of the infamous, tourist-ridden Koh Phi Phi Island. With beautiful beaches, rock climbing, and world-renowned diving, Koh Tao certainly attracts its fair share of travellers but you can still find spots that aren’t completely overrun… yet. So get over there asap!
Soak in the sun alongside sea turtles or monk seals on the beaches of Poipu, or try your hand at surfing at the shores of Hanalei Bay. While most tourists tend to flock to Oahu or Maui, Kauai is a lush tropical paradise with mountains and waterfalls aplenty, and it still has areas that feel off the beaten path.
With approximately 1,200 islands, you will have plenty of options to escape the crowds in the Maldives… but maybe that’s because no one can afford to go there, are we right?!
Kidding, there are definitely more affordable options than the luxurious overwater bungalows, and the incredibly turquoise waters and stunning coral reefs make the Maldives a very appealing option for your winter vacay. Islands such as Biyadhoo have some of the best scuba diving in the world, with manta rays, sharks, and fish of all colours of the rainbow.
Want to share your favourite hidden gems of the world right here on Mapped? Email us at [email protected].