Enjoy ideal winter holiday on wonderful islands

Curated by BuffaloTripDecember 3, 2016 Viewed: 493

Instead of spending your winter holiday in a cozy place, explore a few tropical islands that haven’t been spoiled by tourism. It’s quite strange to travel to islands during winter; however, the climate there allows you to freely swim, dive, enjoy food and partake in exciting activities.

1. Nam Du, Kien Giang - Immerse yourself in nature

On the way, South, stop in Nam Du and feel the tranquility of pristine nature as well as the friendliness and hospitality of locals.

Nam Du is the most remote archipelago of Kien Hai District (Kien Giang Province), about 83km from Rach Gia City. The archipelago consists of 21 islands of various size, each boasting captivating landscapes. The smallest one is Hon Lo which is only about 200m2 while the largest one is Hon Cu Tro whose area is 9km2. Go up to the Nam Du lighthouse on Hon Lon (Cu Tron) which is 300m above sea level to view the other islands such as Hon Mau, Hon Bo Dap, Hon Ngang, Hon Dung, Hon Dau, Hon Ong, Bai Cay Men, and more.

Hon Mau’s white sand beaches – Chuong and Nam, as well as Bac, Da Den, and Da Trang beaches are each stunning in their own right. Enjoy the turquoise water or look at colorful stones.  Located near Hon Mau is Hon Dau’s dense coral reefs – an ideal place to see the ocean. Meanwhile, Bai Men is the best place on the island to see the sunrise. After having fun in the water and sand, enjoy grilled seafood and cool coconuts while listening to the sea.

Further information

Time: The best time to visit Nam Du is from December to March when the sea is calm.

Itinerary: Travel by car from HCMC to Rach Gia (245km) then board an express ship to Nam Du (2 hours). Recommended ships include the Ngoc Thanh, Song Hong, and Ho Hai.

Accommodation: There are some guesthouses for visitors in Hon Lon. If rooms are full, you can ask locals to stay with them. Prices start at VND250,000/ room/ night.

Experience: It is a great idea to visit Nam Du with a group of friends so that you can camp on the beach at night.

Cuisine: garfish grilled on the banana trunk, grilled scallops with spring onion oil, grilled sea porcupine with spring onion oil, oysters, squid eggs, and sour cobia soup.

2. Lombok, Indonesia - Indulge in the tranquility of pristine nature

Apart from its precious gem, Bali, Indonesia is proud of Lombok, a beautiful island in West Nusa Tenggara Province. Unlike the busy islands in Indonesia, Lombok is peaceful and gentle in its own way. The island boasts Rinjani (a sacred mountain, 3726m), unspoiled diving areas, picturesque waterfalls, beautiful rails, and turquoise lakes.

Must-visit destinations in Lombok include Kuta and the northern part of the island which attracts visitors with attractions such as Mawun or Selong beaches. With a 10km coastline, Senggigi is the most popular place in western Lombok. It’s ideal for entertainment, shopping, and resorts. There are 3 small islands in Lombok: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. Silence and clear water of Gili Meno’s corals make it the most beautiful and ideal for diving.

When you travel to Lombok, remember to spend time walking to the majestic Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep waterfalls to immerse yourself in the cool pleasant water. On your way to the island, visit renowned craft villages such as Banyumulek, Penujak, and Masbagik or the Sukarare, Puyung, and Pringgasela weaving villages.

Further information 

Itinerary: You can fly directly from Jakarta or Garuda to Lombok with Lion Air (2 hours). If you travel from Bali, get on a ferry from Padangbai to Lembar in Lombok (3,5 hours). You can also fly from Denpasar, Bali to Mataram Airport in Lombok.

Accommodation: luxurious hotels include the Oberoi Lombok Hotel, Hotel Tugu Lombok, Manta Dive Gili Air Resort, Living Asia Resort and Spa, and the Lombok Lodge.

Cuisine: Nasi goring pot rice, grilled chicken with satay, Otak-otak Ikan (steamed fish in banana leaves), Rendang Daging (stewed beef in coconut milk), and Sate Ayam Madura (chicken with satay).

3. Coron, Philippines - A paradise for diving lovers

Without captivating lagoons and private beaches like El Nido or long beaches with busy restaurants like Boracay, Coron – a haven for divers – enchants visitors with it's peaceful and clear lakes with white sand beaches nestled behind the mountains. This is enough to attract travelers from around the world

Coron is a municipality in Palawan Province whose capital is Puerto Princessa. The town is known for the brackish Kayangan and Barracuda lakes, giant limestones, and stunning reefs. Get on a boat and explore diverse reefs under the turquoise water. Many visitors stay in the town and book tours to visit the lagoons and go diving. 6 island hopping tours including A through E and the safaris are the most popular. When booking a tour, make sure you stop by beautiful attractions such as Kayangan Lake, CYC beach, Pass Island, Smith beach, Twin Lagoon, Skeleton Wreck, Dimanglet Island, and Malcapuya Island as well as interesting opportunities like diving and bathing in hot springs.

There are many options for accommodation, from resorts to standard and luxurious hotels. If you want to have a novel experience, you can stay in a tree house overlooking the sea at Sanctuaria Treehouse. Have fun when kayaking, diving, visiting mangroves, and partaking in other exciting activities. If you prefer staying in a camp or bungalow on a private island, Island Beach Camp is the best choice. Near the camp lies a beautiful coral reef and a large wrecked ship for divers.

Further information

Time: Dry season from December to March the next year

Itinerary: travel by ferry from El Nido to Coron (8 hours) or fly from Manila with Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines to Francisco B.Reyes Airport in Busuanga city and travel by bus to Coron.

4. Tasmania, Australia - Summer arrives on the other side of world

Escape the bitter cold of the North by traveling to the other side of the world. As summer comes, visitors flock to Tasmania, the only island state of Australia. What’s more, Tasmania is the world’s 26th largest island and has several small neighboring islands. 

Spanning 62,409km2, Tasmania contains green valleys, quiet towns, and pristine beaches. The best way to explore the island is to rent a car and see what interests you from there. Start in the south, near Hobart, the state’s capital. Tasmania’s best wine is made close by in the Swa Valley. Stroll down get a view of Hartz Mountains National Park with mountain ranges, frozen lakes, meadows, and jungles. The park is full of surprises. On Bruny Island you can walk along the Neck, a narrow strip of land separating the Isthmus and Adventure bay. 

If you are short on time, explore the city of Launceston, visit the vineyards and lavender farms in the Tamar Valley in the northern regions of the island. There are two options for you in the east:  the Freycinet Peninsula and Wineglass Bay with white sand and clear water, or Maria Island which entices visitors with large deep bays, adventure trails with ferns, and majestic mountains that are home to numerous wild species.

Further information

Time: The best time to visit Tasmania is from December to February.

Transportation: From the capital, there are flights to Hobart. You can also travel from Melbourne to Tasmania by ship.

Sightseeing: The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, the Salamanca Market in Hobart, the Tahune forest cable car, and Tasmanian Devil Park in the south.

5. Manukan, Malaysia - To the heart of the captains

Renowned as the precious gem of Malaysia, Manukan Island easily captures the heart of travelers, even those of captains traveling around the world.

Manukan is located just about 15 minutes from Kota Kinabalu by canoe, Malaysia. The water is so clear that you can see the seafloor. Standing on the only bridge of the island, you can easily catch sight of schools of fish swimming around the bridge’s pillars. Manukan is a popular winter destination for visitors from cold countries. They spend the last days of year sunbathing on the beach. Manukan is also a world standard diving hotspots with a diversity of coral. You might encounter clownfish, sea turtles, and even small fish which attach to your skin like you are enjoying a fish massage.

Don’t miss a chance to partake in exciting activities such as canoeing, snorkeling, diving, and driving a mini-submarine to walk among the ocean inhabitants. The white sand stretching around the island and the calm Tasman Sea is ideal for families with small children. Another must-try experience is observing Manukan, Manutik, and Sulug Islands from the plane departing from Kota Kinabalu. Together these islands create a smiley face in the ocean, one of the most anticipated scenes for visitors.

Further information

Itinerary: There isn’t a direct route from Vietnam to Konta Kinabalu; therefore, you have to transit in Kuala Lumpur. It takes about 2.5 hours to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu. You can buy tickets from Kota Kinabalu to Manukan at three harbors: Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal, Sutera Harbour Marina Jetty, and STAR Marina. 

Ticket: 10RM for foreign visitors

6. Kakaban, Indonesia - Swimming in the lake of jellyfish

Jellyfish are the most ancient animal species on Earth. They existed long before dinosaurs appeared hundreds of millions of years ago. Without a brain, heart, or bones, jellyfish are 90% water. As they are capable of asexual reproduction, a jellyfish you touch today can be the descendant of a jellyfish thousands of years ago. Jellyfish contain DNA of all animal species including humans. Imagine how amazing it would be if you could swim with the “ancestor” of humans. 

Well known for giant lakes with thousands of various sized jellyfish, Kakaban Island is a “dangerous” and interesting place for many people. Everyone knows that jellyfish can sting and hurt people; however, Kakaban’s jellyfish are completely harmless. You can swim with them and touch them without worries. There are only 3 places in the world that offer you this experience. They are Kakaban, the Togean Islands in Indonesia, and Rock Island in Micronesia. Among them, Kakaban is the best-known place with the most diverse types of jellyfish. The island has been proposed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Because the lakes were so long separated from the ocean by continental shift, the jellyfish lake in Kakaban haven’t had to worry about predators. Gradually their defense tentacles degenerated, making them harmless. What could be better than swimming in the lake of colorful jellyfish which can be held in your hand? You are not allowed to dive or use duck foot so that you won’t affect jellyfish.

Apart from Jellyfish Lake, Kakaban has Fish Lake and beautiful beaches where you can dive with sea turtles or find the famous seahorse – pigmy.

Have you chosen your destination this winter?

Further information

Itinerary: Fly from Juwutan International Airport in Tarakan, East Kalimantan to Kakaban. You can fly to Kota Kinabalu and travel by train to Takaran. From Takaran, travel by plane or train to Tanjung Redeb (Berau) and board a ship to Derawan Islands, including Kakaban.