5 Asian beaches to visit in 2013

THERE’S never a wrong time to take a beach vacation and TripAdvisor’s recently released list of the top 25 beaches in the world has gotten this writer creating her own wish-list of getaways for the year. The Asia-Pacific region is chock full of places to lounge in the sun with a book and a cold beer, or to get your adventure on. The following are the author’s top picks for Asian beaches to visit this year, from one of the most popular spots in the Philippines to untouched Australian beauty.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

This small island off the coast of the Mekong Delta offers the best of Vietnam when it comes to beach vacations. While the secret has long been out about  places like Hoi An, Phu Quoc is still an up-and-comer as a tourist destination. The island is known for its white sand beaches and lovely, clear blue waters and is a perfect spot to relax and engage in favorite beach past times, such as snorkeling, fishing and  scuba diving. For a taste of local life, there are markets where you can see how islanders live and do business, not to mention sample the local fare. This is the year to visit Phu Quoc, as this once sleepy island has already seen a  boom in the tourism industry in recent years, and has been earmarked for even more rapid development. Phu Quoc lies quite close to both Cambodia and Vietnam, and its ownership is disputed by both countries.

This photo of Phu Quoc Island is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Whitehaven Beach, Australia 

This seven-kilometer long stretch of beautiful beach came in at number three on TripAdvisor’s best beaches list for 2013, and with good reason. Whitehaven Beach, which is located on Whitsunday Island, has been widely praised for its pristine sand and waters, and for being a top eco-destination in the world. The island is uninhabited, though tourists are permitted to visit and there are a number of ways to get to this world-class beach destination. Day trips take visitors out to see the incredible views and colors revealed in the clear waters surrounding the island, or you can take a helicopter or seaplane for a thrilling ride above the island.

This photo of Whitehaven Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Turquoise Bay Exmouth, Australia 

Ranked number 19 on TripAdvisor’s list, Turquoise Bay is a prime location for snorkeling lovers this year. According to the Exmouth Visitor Centre, the bay is a great spot for beginning snorkelers, with few strong currents but beautiful marine life to be seen. More advanced or confident snorkelers might opt for the Turquoise Bay Drift, which has stronger currents but plenty of rewarding sites. Thanks to the lively reef, the rugged beach terrain and the natural beauty of the place, this is a perfect destination for getting relaxation, adventure and sight-seeing all in one.

This photo of Turquoise Bay Exmouth is courtesy of TripAdvisor

White Beach, Boracay, Philippines

White Beach is no well-kept secret, as it is one of the most popular beaches on what is one of the most popular island destinations in the Philippines. That has not dulled its charms for many a visitor, however, as it also ranked highly among TripAdvisor travelers and lands at number 24 on the best beaches list. It was also ranked number one on TripAdvisor’s round-up of top beaches in Asia. The beach lives up to its name and the island itself is well-known for having plenty of nightlife spots and entertainment in which to indulge when the sun goes down. Take care when planning your trip, however, as large amounts of algae can prove problematic on the island’s west side from December to May, putting a damper on your trip. Non-smokers will be pleased to know they won’t have to worry about nicotine fumes polluting the fresh sea air – smoking is prohibited on White Beach.

This photo of White Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Havelock Island, India

This Andaman paradise has received rave reviews from a number of sources, and has been named a top beach in Asia by Outside and TIME magazines. It is a remote location that reportedly offers excellent diving opportunities to see a wide variety of sea life. One Indian reviewer praised Havelock Island for possessing all the beauty and charm of Goa without the partying and drug use for which that beach is known. Radhanagar Beach in particular has been said to be clean, beautiful and a relaxing place to take in the finest of India’s beachside offerings.

This photo of Radhanagar Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Casey Hynes is a writer, editor and photographer living in Beijing, China. A 2008 graduate of Columbia Journalism School in New York City, she has been published in Roll Call, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous publications in China. Casey also writes about personal growth and travel at her blog, http://spinningfree.me/. Samples of her work and photography can be seen at caseyhynes.com.