coastline of shimoda japan at dusk

At dusk, the shores of Shimoda, Japan offer a warm welcome. (Photo: Getty Images)

Beach Travel

Find Your Paradise at These 7 Coastal Towns Across Asia and the Pacific

Beach towns often have a reputation as being crowded with tourists and packed with souvenir stands and lines snaking along the boardwalk. The following places are not like that. Instead, these underrated coastal retreats around the Asia-Pacific region are just as lovely and low-key as can be.

After visiting their unspoiled shorelines, you’re likely to want to return again and again. As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Shimoda, Japan

When Commodore Matthew Perry sailed into Japanese waters for the second time, in 1854, one of his landings was this harbor on the tip of the Izu Peninsula. Nowadays this coastal town is a favored weekend getaway for locals in Tokyo, who either road trip or opt for a 2.5-hour rail journey to get here.

Once in Shimoda, make a beeline for Shirahamacho Beach, where the waters are serene enough for the tiniest of tots to swim, or Shirahama Ohama Beach, a blindingly white, 700-meter stretch of sand beloved by surfers.

Canggu, Indonesia


For a glimpse of the Bali of yesteryear, before digital nomads set up shop in Ubud and revelers tore up the dance floors in Kuta, head to Canggu, a chilled-out surfer’s paradise on the southern side of the island.

Although its profile is on the rise, Canggu retains much of the bohemian spirit of yesteryear. The waves are as good as they say, and there’s plenty to see and do on land, as well.

Salute the sun in a restorative yoga class, grab a drink at one of the many juice bars, or check out one of the roadside warungs (small eateries) for traditional Indonesian fare.

An Thoi, Vietnam

For years, Vietnam’s largest island, Phu Quoc, was famous for exactly two things: being the site of an infamous prison camp during the Vietnam War and being a producer of fish sauce. Since neither of those sounded great on a tourism brochure, Phu Quoc remained under the radar for decades.

While it was inevitable that the word about these palm-fringed shores would get out eventually, all that extra time allowed Phu Quoc to avoid the ill effects of mass tourism that have ravaged other Southeast Asian islands.

An Thoi, the island’s second-largest town, is long on ambience and the perfect place to park between diving trips to nearby reefs. Oh, and that fish sauce? Top chefs now rave about it, calling it the finest in the world. To find out why, book a tour of the Red Boat Fish Sauce factory, where sustainably fished black anchovies are transformed into an amber elixir good enough to drink straight.

Huskisson, Australia


If you’re looking to flaunt your tan and snap selfies, Sydney’s Bondi Beach and the heavily Instagrammed infinity pool at Bondi Icebergs Club is the place to be. If you’re seeking a more laid-back scene in a truly spectacular natural setting, however, head to the sugar-sand beaches of Jervis Bay, located a scenic drive down the coast of New South Wales. Huskisson, a friendly oceanside village, is the ideal place to grab a beer at the local pub before booking a boat tour to spy humpback whales.

Kep, Cambodia

Skip the backpacker-saturated party town of Sihanoukville and take a trip instead to this former colonial resort town. Until the 1960s, Kep was the crown jewel of Cambodia’s coastline. During the Cambodian Civil War it fell into disrepair, with many of its glamorous old villas simply left to decay.

These days, Kep’s star is once again on the rise as travelers wise up to its sleepy charms. Hop on a 20-minute long-tail boat ride out to Koh Tonsay, or “Rabbit Island,” which boasts a powder-sand beach with some postcard-ready views. At the end of the day, feast on Kampot pepper crab and other dishes made using the famous local crustaceans.

Pranburi, Thailand


Every weekend, the highway connecting Bangkok to Hua Hin fills up with a mixture of city dwellers and international tourists. While there’s much to love about this perpetually popular seaside town, the crowds during peak season are considerable.

Situated a mere half-hour drive farther down the road, Pranburi might as well be in another world. The presence of several nearby national parks has kept development here to a minimum. With its clear waters and powdery sands, Pranburi Beach is a dreamy spot for sunbathers on the Gulf of Thailand.

Maraetai, New Zealand

Aptly named for the Maori word for “meeting place by the sea,” this breathtaking beach town makes for an easy day trip from Auckland. The drive down only takes 40 minutes, although you may want to budget a little extra time to stop and soak in the views of the Pohutukawa Coast. Should you tire of basking in the sunshine with a beach read, well-maintained biking and walking trails riddle the area around Maraetai Beach.