Looking for a secluded and non-touristy beach? Think twice before booking

Tangalle Secluded Beach

Whether you are daydreaming in your office or living room at home, or you’ve just returned from a stay at a crowded resort, an image that many of us fantasize about is being the only one on a remote tropical beach. Not only don’t you have to worry about pesky vendors constantly trying to sell you sunglasses and necklaces, but you don’t even have to worry about other tourists who might fancy the same bit of sand as you.

As lovely as that image may seem in your mind, the reality of spending at least part of your holiday this way is probably not nearly as ideal as the daydream. In the past few months I’ve traveled around many beach areas in southern Asia and I’ve come across quite a few perfect stretches of sand just like this. The thing is though, I’ve discovered that I prefer places with tourist services.

A secluded beach is better in a fantasy than reality

At the moment I’m writing this from southern Sri Lanka, which only got over a brutal civil war a few years ago so tourists are only starting to return. It’s also the end of the high season so even beaches in front of resorts are mostly deserted, and beaches just up or down the coast from those are completely deserted.

The first thing you might assume you’d do when encountering a deserted and beautiful beach is to rip (almost all) your clothes off and run into the water to splash around for a bit before you start sunbathing. But it’s not really that special when you are actually there. There’s nowhere to buy a bottle of water or rent a chair, and probably nowhere to park your car if you drove there.

The point is, that when you are shivering while walking home in January the dream of a gorgeous beach of your own sounds amazing. If you could snap your fingers and be right there you certainly would charge into the water. However, in reality if you are on a beach like this is means that you passed up many other beaches that have little snack stands and chairs to rent and even massage people working up and down them. For the majority of us, finding a less crowded one of those is far superior to your own beach with zero services.

Beaches like this in the Caribbean

Especially on the larger islands like Dominican Republic and Jamaica, but also on some of the smaller islands like St. Thomas or Aruba, the resorts tend to be bunched together in small areas. Some of the rest of the coast is rocky walls or cliffs, but there are plenty of beautiful secluded beaches with no resorts yet as well.

To reach one you’ll probably have to rent a car and drive an hour out of town, possibly to an area with little or no security or police presence. Then you’ll pull your car over onto a patch of dirt and try to find an acceptable path leading to the empty portion of beach you saw from the road. Hopefully it has nice sand instead of gravely rocks, and hopefully the tide is safe instead of some crazy riptide machine ready to drag you out to sea. When you are done swimming you’ll dry off and lay on the sand, with only the crashing waves and noise from the nearby road to disturb you.

More than likely, you’ll be ready to head back to the resort where you are staying sooner than you expected, where you can order a beer or tropical juice, and start thinking about which of the many restaurants you’ll choose for your next meal.