Ever find yourself distracted with dreams of relaxing on sandy, sun-soaked beaches or splashing in the clearest, bluest water you’ve ever seen?
You may have yourself convinced that the only way you’d be able to afford a holiday in paradise is by magically winning the lottery or getting a surprise inheritance, but it’s definitely possible, even without a miracle.
Don’t believe us? We’ve got seven island destinations for you to choose from that won’t break the bank:
1. Coron Island, Philippines
Coron Island is a part of Palawan, widely considered as the Philippines’ most beautiful archipelago of islands, and is the perfect base for you to go island-hopping.
Hidden amongst imposing limestone karsts are Lake Kayangan and Lake Barracuda, both wonderous must-visit sites only accessible by boat.
For a gorgeous view of Coron Town, hike up Mount Tapyas, followed by a dip at Maquinit Springs to soothe your tired muscles.
Best time to visit: October to mid-June
2. Koh Phangan, Thailand
Famous for its monthly Full Moon parties in the village of Haad Rin, there’s more to Koh Phangan than loud music and staying up all night.
If you’re looking for peace and quiet, venture to the north side of the island, such as Haad Yao or Haad Khuad (also known as Bottle Beach), where you’ll be able to find lovely uncrowded stretches of beach.
As the island is nestled between Koh Samui and Koh Tao, both popular island destinations in their own right, it’s easy to catch a ferry to either island.
Best time to visit: December to June
3. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Translated literally from Bahasa Malaysia, “Perhentian” means “stopover”, and these islands are surely not to be missed.
Located right next to the Redang Marine Park on the stunning east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the islands are surrounded with pristine coral reefs that are perfect for diving and snorkeling.
The two main islands are Pulau Perhentian Besar (“Big Perhentian Island”) and Pulau Perhentian Kecil (“Small Perhentian Island”) – the former is popular among families and those seeking quiet relaxation, while the latter tends to attract backpackers searching for budget accommodation.
Best time to visit: March to late October
4. Koh Rong, Cambodia
Cambodia’s second largest island is set just 25 kilometers from Sihanoukville in the Gulf of Thailand and is accessible via ferry.
Koh Tuich Village is the main tourist village, but even then, it’s quite tranquil. The only way to get around the island over land is on foot, so make sure you have a pair of comfortable shoes on if you want to explore the hiking paths through jungle or beach.
The one thing you can’t miss is the bioluminescent plankton that washes up on the beach, leaving it glittering like diamonds.
Best time to visit: November to April
5. Lombok, Indonesia
Forget Bali – Lombok is where it’s at now. Its beaches are much less commercialized and still remain idyllic compared to the teeming tourist hotspot of Bali.
The nearby Gili Islands – made up of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air – are a mere 20 minutes away by boat, and are perfect for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. On Lombok itself, if you’re looking to mingle with fellow travelers, Senggigi is the heart of all the fun.
If you’re not one for beaches, then hike up Mount Rinjani, Indonesia’s second highest volcano, to admire its smouldering crater lake and the astonishing view from up top.
Best time to visit: April to October
6. Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Phu Quoc is primarily covered in dense forest and mountains, but the white sandy beaches ringing its edges are among Vietnam’s best.
If you’re tight on time, you can fly in to the island from Ho Chi Minh City. Or you can opt to take a boat from Rach Gia, Ha Tien, or Hon Chong on the mainland – but those can take from an hour and a half to two and a half hours.
Duong Dong is the island’s main town, where you can sample some of the country’s yummiest seafood. From there, you can rent a motor scooter or taxi to take you to the sights, such as the fishing villages and pearl farms.
Best time to visit: November to March
Okay, this one’s a bit of a stretch in terms of distance, as it’s set in the Indian Ocean, but it’s well worth it for the unspoiled, uncrowded beaches and turquoise waters as far as the eye can see.
In the past, the Maldives was thought to only be the holidaying playground of the wealthy, but with the rise of low-cost carriers flying in to the capital of Malé, it’s become more accessible to everyone, no matter their budget.
Its coral reefs are second to none, whisking you away to a vibrant underwater wonderland, so be sure to pack your diving gear.
Best time to visit: November to April