Best beaches for families in Asia and beyond: the tried, the tested and the ones on the wish list

Don those sunnies and lay out the beach towel, we've got the best beaches in Asia for you to catch some sun!

With the countdown to Christmas really ramping up, and local school holidays already started (eek!), we think we all deserve to take a moment and think about blissing out on one of these amazing beaches. So instead of getting your knickers in a twist trying to cook the perfect turkey, score last minute stocking fillers and entertaining the kiddos with endless festive fun, stop, look, book and getaway to somewhere beautiful. We give you our list of the tried, the tested (and the ones we want to try and test) beaches for families in Asia.

The ones we’ve tried and tested (and can’t wait to get back to)

Selina, mum of two
El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

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Perfect Palawan. Photography: Cris Tagupa via Unsplash

This one’s for older kids (because it’s quite a journey and involves a chartered flight from Manila – which would be a pain in the butt with tiny people). This eco resort in the Palawan region of The Philippines is surrounded by the most spectacular, unspoilt beaches I’ve ever experienced and even before I had kids I dreamed of bringing my family here. The water is crystal clear, with enormous blue starfish, coral gardens and rainbow tropical fish just metres from the shore – snorkelling here will blow your kid’s mind. And there’s so much magical stuff around: sandbanks that let you hop between islands at low tide, kayaking in hidden lagoons nearby, Robinson-Crusoe-esque islands you can enjoy all to yourself… this is definitely a bucket-list trip for the fam!

Jana, mum of two
Boracay, Philippines

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Some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see are in Boracay. Photography: Alva Pratt via Unsplash

After being closed for six months, Boracay has finally reopened and it looks amazing! I love that you can walk in the ocean for hundreds of meters and still have the water only come up to your knees. Station 1 and 2 are really kid friendly and little ones love playing in the powdery-white sand. Also, D’Mall has lots of family-friendly dining options if you’re looking to venture out of your hotel room.

Kate, mum of three
Valla Beach, New South Wales, Australia

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So much love for Valla. Photography: Drifted Away Luxury Accommodation at Valla Beach via Facebook

If you’re keen to avoid tourist traps and hipster havens, this is the place for you. Nestled pretty much halfway between Sydney and Brisbane (about a five hour drive from either major city) is the sleepy beachside town of Valla Beach. Aside from the beach, a small row of shops, the deliciously fresh Headland Cafe and a lovely playground, there’s nothing in Valla. But you don’t need anything else. The beach offers a long stretch of coastline, with pristine, fresh water and fine white sand, making it the perfect escape from the hustle of the big city. There’s also a brilliant inlet at high tide, where the kids can splash around in the shallows in crystal clear water. Holiday perfection for this Aussie. 

Tracy, mum of three
Plantation Island, Fiji

Kayaking in crystal clear waters was a big hit with our usually inert teenager in Fiji. Photography: Tracy Tristram

Don’t let the ten-hour direct flight put you off: this is pure paradise that’s worth every single minute of the journey. Not only are these the best waters we’ve ever seen (the sea is teeming with fish even just ankle deep off shore), but there’s also plenty to keep the kiddos busy thanks to the ever-present Fijian hospitality. We plumped for Plantation Island which wasn’t as fancy pants as some of the neighbouring islands, but ticked all the boxes for our fave fam-holiday ever. An inflatable sea playground right off shore sealed the deal for us. Check out our full guide to why this patch of the world really was total vacay heaven.

Jana, mum of two
Alona Beach, Bohol, Philippines

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Explore the Chocolate Hills if you fancy a break from the beach in Bohol. Photography: Jacky Loh via Unsplash

Obviously, I am biased, but the Philippines does have some of the best beaches in the world. Bohol is just a ferry ride away from Cebu or a 30 minute flight from Manila. Alona Beach is similar to Boracay in that it’s just one long strip of powdery white sand. The difference is that the shoreline is shorter and it’s not as commercialised. Also, if you’re not a beach person, there’s heaps of things to do: see tarsiers (the world’s smallest monkey), go ziplining, check out the Chocolate Hills, Bamboo Forest and some beautiful old churches.

Kate, mum of three
Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand

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Forgot the inflatables? No problem if you’re staying on Chaweng Beach! Photography: Tracy Tristram

Just under two hours from Singapore will see you arrive at the beachy Koh Samui. There are loads of beaches to choose from, but we absolutely loved Chaweng Beach and Lipa Noi Beach for the kids. They remain shallow for a hundred metres or so, making them perfect for little ones who aren’t entirely confident swimmers. Chaweng Beach is particularly clear and the sand is nice and clean, so the kiddos can spend hours flitting between sandcastles and swimming…a blissful long-weekend getaway. 

Tracy, mum of three
Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

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Stilt fishermen on Unawatuna beach: not something you see every day! Photography: Fredrik Öhlander via Unsplash

Surf, sun, sand and the nicest people on earth: Unawatuna has it in spades (we love a beach pun, sorry!). Life is laid back and chilled on this sweeping stretch of gloriously clean sand, and accommodation is mostly rustic yet charming. If it’s a back-to-basics beach holiday you’re after then this is definitely it. Bring your boogie boards! We may or may not be in this stunning pocket of the world right now. Look out for #srilankaspam on our Insta page!

The ones on the wish list

Agonda Beach, Goa, India

Kids will definitely get a buzz over the sunset gathering of cows on Agonda Beach every evening! Photography: Vinod Sankar via Flickr

While it’s not the easiest place to get to (there are no direct flights from Singapore, sadly), Goa really does have something for everyone. Soak up the sights and sounds on palm-fringed Agonda Beach with the Arabian Sea at your feet, and give yourself a self-satisfied smile while you watch the kiddos body boarding. All while you have your legs massaged by an expert right there on the sand. This is a beach that has it all: a gorgeous crescent of powder soft sand, just the right amount of wave-action for aforementioned body boarding, decent restos serving up kid-friendly grub, and the chance to take a fishing boat – if you so wish – out to spot dolphins. Also, the kids will LOVE the fact that a group of cows gather at the same spot every day at sunset: Insta-worthy moments galore.

Juara Beach, Tioman Island, Malaysia

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Sand and small surf: perfect for the kiddos! Photography: Moritzh via Flickr

Situated South off peninsular Malaysia’s east coast, this is a relatively quiet beach hidden away on the east of Tioman Island, and still has a charming village atmosphere as well as a gorgeous long stretch of coastline perfect for bucket and spade action. Look up the nearby turtle conservation project nearby too, which the whole fam can help out with.

Macleod Island, Myanmar

Macleod Island, Myanmar

Hands up who fancies kayaking in this exact spot off Macleod Island? Photography: Myanmar Andaman Resort via Facebook

Located in the Mergui Archipelago off Myanmar’s coast, Macleod Island is the place to escape to for a stunning location that is about as untouched as it gets when holidaying in Asia. It’s not one if you’re after luxe all the way: there’s only one resort on the island which is rustic chic rather than five star glitz. And when you’re not on the pristine beaches, take a hike though the forest to a peak of 173m to take in the stunning scenery and amazing flora and fauna.

Otres Beach, Cambodia

Otres Beach is a relatively undiscovered gem the whole gang will love. Photography: Estorde via Flickr

When you hear ‘Cambodia’ it’s natural to think of Tomb Raider type holidays scrambling around Angkor Wat, but did you know that there are a fair few rather lovely beach resorts to try too? Otres Beach gets our vote for being the one we really want to try with its white sand, lovely hotels, clear seas and stunning sunsets. It’s still relatively undiscovered so our advice would be to check it out before Starbucks et al move in…

Like this story? Here’s more we think you’ll enjoy:

Five reasons we still love Langkawi
Short island getaway breaks from Singapore
Vacay on your doorstep: staycations for the whole fam
Glamping in Asia and beyond

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