8 new ways to enjoy the sun, sand and sea

This summer guide will help you learn about local culture, challenge yourself and see destinations you thought you already knew in fresh, exciting ways.

  • Cheong Kamei
  • May 2019

One of the best things about travel is that it presents opportunities for new experiences. From the fun to the feel-good, this summer guide is packed with ideas on how to enjoy some of the most popular holiday destinations.

1. Be a fisherman for a day in Hoi An

On the five-hour Eco Tour with Bamboo Basket Boat & Fishermen by Viator, you’ll learn traditional fishing techniques from local fishermen, including net fishing and paddling a traditional basket boat. You’ll even get to take part in a basket boat race. It’s a great way to experience the beauty of Cua Dai River, discover how locals live and hear stories of life during and after the Vietnam War.

2. Ride an underwater scooter in Bali

Bali Underwater Scooter offers trips to view the underwater Buddha statues at Nusa Lembongan.

No scuba diving or swimming experience? No problem! Just sit on an underwater scooter, put on a helmet connected to an oxygen tank and go on a sweet ride up to 20 metres deep into the water. All you have to do is turn the handlebars to steer and push buttons to control speed and depth so even kids can manoeuvre it easily. Try it out with Bali Underwater Scooter.

3. Take part in a beach clean-up

Trash Hero hopes to use weekly clean-ups as a hands-on way to educate the public on the impact of plastic pollution.

Finally, a viral photo challenge worth getting behind — #trashtag is all about posting before and after shots of trash clean-ups. One way to do this on your vacay is to volunteer with Trash Hero, a non-profit organisation that organises weekly trash pick-ups in 11 countries. It might seem like a simple initiative but it isn’t without effect — as of June 2018, its volunteers have removed close to 600,000 kilograms of litter worldwide.

4. Soak in a coffee-infused hot spring in Sanya

Heading to a hot spring on a beach holiday might seem like a strange thing to do but studies have shown that it does wonders to relieve stress. At China’s biggest open-air hot spring resort, Pearl River Nantian Hotspring Resort, there are pools scented with black tea, coconut milk and even ground coffee to boost health benefits.

5. Seek out remote beaches

When it comes to getting to these secluded beaches, the journey might be long but it’s as rewarding as the destination.

Dipaculao Beach, Aurora, Philippines

Most tourists who drive from Manila to Aurora stop at the surfing town of Baler. We say drive on and head to Dipaculao Beach instead. The route will take you up and down Sierre Madre mountain range, offering views of the Pacific Ocean along the way. When you arrive, you’ll love how the sand is white, the water’s turquoise-blue and you can easily find an empty spot.

Kumejima, Okinawa

Kumejima’s unique “mat” of rocks stretches over 250 metres when revealed at low tide.

A three-hour ferry ride from mainland Okinawa, Kumejima offers the same diving and snorkelling activities available in other parts of Okinawa. Unique to Kumejima, however, is a natural formation created by the cooling and hardening of lava millions of years ago. Known as Tatami-ishi, it is a “mat” of pentagonal and hexagonal rocks.

6. Discover underwater ruins

Yonaguni Monument, Okinawa

While some geologists argue that this massive sandstone structure (the most prominent part is almost 150 metres long and 27 metres tall) is a natural formation, there are details such as pillars and a star-shaped platform that indicate humans built it. Here’s when things get really interesting: if this was once built on land and later swallowed by the sea, experts estimate that based on where it is now underwater, it would have been built 10,000 years ago ­—predating the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge by almost 5,000 years.

USAT Liberty Shipwreck, Bali

It is only at the small fishing village of Tulamben where you can go shipwreck snorkelling in Bali.

The former US ship that got hit by a Japanese torpedo during WWII sits from three to 28 metres underwater. On a good day (visibility is best between April and July), you can get a good look at the deeper sections and the schooling jackfish that have made this wreck their home.

7. Dine on the beach in Penang

Khunthai Restaurant

Nope, we’re not talking about the famous Batu Ferringhi. Go where the locals go when they’re craving some authentic beachside seafood dining — Teluk Kumbar. Penang-born food blogger Ng Sock Peng recommends Hai Boey Seafood (29, Mukim 9 Pasir Belanda, Teluk Kumbar), a casual eatery famous for its claypot fish and braised seaweed tofu. For spice fiends, head to Khunthai Restaurant (1052, Mukim 9 Pasir Belanda, Teluk Kumbar) where you can tuck into steamed sotong in a punchy lime dressing and raw prawns served with a tongue-numbingly spicy dip.

8. Explore sea caves at Phang Nga Bay, Phuket

The Phang Nga Sea Canoeing Experience by Klook includes pick-up from your hotel.

On the Phang Nga Sea Canoeing experience by Klook, you will visit Panak Island and Hong Island and spend the day paddling through limestone sea caves and lagoons populated with kingfishers, mudskippers and sea eagles. You’ll also pass Ko Tapu, a 20-metre tall monolith that was made famous by the 1974 James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun.