Asia is a wonderland of gorgeous beaches; many are already favourites of runners who like the endless expanses of sand and cooling ocean breezes. But we’ve heard a rumour that some of the best beaches of all are those less-frequently visited, so if you decide to see for yourself what the experience of running on sand that’s devoid of humanity feels like, grab your shoes and passport and investigate any of the 10 we’ve uncovered.
1. Haad Rin
Location: Koh Phangan, Thailand
What to see: Crystal clear water, sparkling white beaches and a laid-back vibe that’s so inviting, the urge to sun bathe rather that run here could be overwhelming.
Why is it good for running: Virtually unpopulated most of the time, the packed sand and sunny skies are conducive to new personal bests for runners who never met a beach run challenge they didn’t embrace.
Popularity: This quirky beach resembles a deserted island most of the year, but during the Full Moon, “beach-ites” turn out in record numbers to drink, eat and party, so run in the morning when they’re still sleeping it off.
2. White Sands Beach
Location: Koh Chang, Thailand
What to see: Quirky huts form a barrier between the jungle and white sand, so once you’ve undertaken your beach run, get a close look at these charming structures before plunging into seaweed- and rock-free waters for a swim.
Why is it good for running: Mile after mile of sand near the ocean’s edge provide an idyllic surface under your feet, so your usual run times won’t suffer. Use those huts as landmarks so you never veer off your desired path.
Popularity: White Sands Beach must be a great secret because it’s so empty, you could literally run the beach in little more than athletic shoes and a smile and still not attract anyone’s attention.
3. Perhentian Islands
Location: Island group in Kuala Besut, Malaysia
What to see: Choose between two islands for your run. The most recommended of the two is Perhentian Cecil; more runners visit to enjoy vast expanses of sandy shoreline. Perhentian is your choice if you crave solitude.
Why is it good for running: Be forewarned that while Perhentian is usually devoid of humans, you could find your run witnessed by gigantic monitor lizards who like to sun on these beaches.
Popularity: Want to be alone? Go to Perhentian. Perhentian Cecil is your destination if you play as hard as you run. Discover laid-back beach bars here and if you wish to cross-train, ask about the volleyball nets in close proximity to these watering holes.
4. Phra Nang Beach
Location: Railay, Thailand
What to see: If you require diversions to keep you on track, this beach will enthrall you. Limestone karsts are intriguing, water is crystal clear and the sugar-white sand is nicely packed. Engage a ferry to get here.
Why is it good for running: Because can get in your daily runs without being disturbed and then explore mysterious caves, go rock climbing and otherwise cross-train to your heart’s content.
Popularity: This beach is a magnet for party-goers from other beaches in the region, so if you want to make it your destination, run early and then lay low during the cocktail hour and at night when beach parties break out.
5. Mui Ne
Location: Mui Ne, Vietnam
What to see: This old fishing village is far enough away from the madding crowd to give you a wide running berth. Zip past fishermen during your early morning run; if you’re around when they return, they might sell you a fresh catch that you can cook on the beach.
Why is it good for running: This beach is long, serene and bordered by high dunes that absorb and release heat, so you’ll be fanned by constant, cool winds. If you spot local kids in the dunes, they won’t disturb you, particularly if they’re sliding down the dunes on homemade toboggans.
Popularity: If you’re intrigued by kitesurfing, run here! This beach is kiting nirvana when the winds blow and when they don’t, those kids are usually happy to loan you their makeshift sleds for a small fee so you can slide down the dunes, too.
6. El Nido Island Chain
Location: Palawan, Philippines
What to see: If you’ve yet to visit your quota of nations on the Pacific Rim, add this Philippines beach to your bucket list.
Why is it good for running: These islands are completely deserted, so you can return to nature as you sprint over the sand. That stated, El Nido beaches are subject to Mother Nature’s assaults from all sides, so no running in bare feet on this stretch, please.
Popularity: Your chances of running into other people are slim but you will need a boat to get here, so bring a tent and provisions if you intend to stick around.
7. Islands on the Andaman Coast
Location: Andaman Coast, Thailand
What to see: Travel an hour from Bangkok to get your fill of running, dugong spotting (they’re members of the manatee family) and solitude. If you’ve time, visit karst islands sprawling across the horizon where limestone columns pop up from the ocean and look like moonscapes!
Why is it good for running: This lush, wild area seems never ending, so you won’t run out of sand, no matter how long you keep going along this shoreline.
Popularity: Some of these islands are meccas for the rich and famous. Others are desolate and rarely visited. Choose your beach based upon your intentions!
8. Maluk Beach
Location: Subawa, Indonesia
What to see: Maluk Beach has earned a reputation for being so far off the beaten track, you could lose yourself here. But fear not: Surfers who know and love this beach will be around from time to time, so don’t forget to wave to them.
Why is it good for running: You won’t be disturbed by tourists, partiers or anyone seeking a crowd. Maluk Beach offers outstanding stretches of packed sand that test your mettle. It’s empty and serene.
Popularity: Unless word gets out to the pan-Pacific running community, there’s very little likelihood that you’ll lose this as your secret running spot any time soon.
9. Kapas Beach
Location: Terengganu, Malaysia
What to see: Kapas Beach is a remote island requiring a boat to reach this destination. It’s a beautiful corner of Malaysia with some jungle spots located far from the beach itself so you can run to your heart’s content without spotting another person.
Why is it good for running: The beaches on this island are smooth and inviting. For those who come here to train, it’s been said that the sunsets are so remarkable, even the most avid runner must stop to experience this inspiring time of day.
Popularity: So few people know about Kapas Beach, according to those who have visited, you can pretty much count on all the desolation you crave when you run.
10. Unawatuna Beach
Location: Unawatuna, Sri Lanka
What to see: Run the entire length of this beautiful cove and you’ll be entertained by the frequently changing surf. Sometimes it’s calm. Sometimes, it’s rough. It’s always exciting.
Why is it good for running: If you worry about winds throwing you off course, the lagoon-like shape of this lush beach buffers winds at times so you won’t be tempted to call off your run because weather’s bad.
Popularity: There’s no bar in the vicinity, but you’ll find some camaraderie thanks to a devoted group of boogie boarders and surfers who hang out here when the waves are up.
Your Running Secret Getaway
Do you have a secret beach that serves as your favourite place to get away and sprint as far and fast as you are able? Are you willing to share your secret beach’s location with us?
If we visit and run into you there, we promise to ignore you and keep your secret safe.