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I can’t believe it’s not the Maldives - 5 budget friendly island getaways


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As a lone traveller I sometimes find myself in locations that make me think, ‘man, wouldn’t it be romantic to have a candlelit dinner here’. Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling alone and meeting new friends but sometimes you encounter some pretty intimate settings that a hunky fella’ would accompany quite well… if you’re reading this and fit the bill get in touch. 

The Maldives, with silky white sands and crystal clear waters, are an infamous romantic getaway location - I’m sure it’s floating bungalows have seen millions of proposals and honeymooners over the years. If you can’t quite afford the price tag that comes with the stunning Indian Ocean stars or are a single lady like me that doesn’t fancy dining alone among 50 soppy couples then you’re in the right place.

I’ve put together a list of five islands that will not disappoint if you are on the hunt for a picture perfect paradise; who’s coming with me?

Ko Muk

Yes, it’s a Thai island. No, you aren’t going to be swept away to a beach rave with 30,000 other people. I’m not talking about Koh Phangan or Phi Phi but the lesser known peaceful gem hiding away in the tropical south called Ko Muk.

This treasure doesn’t have a pier so you are delivered to the pearly white sands of one of its luxurious beaches by long tail boat and dropped right into paradise. Make sure you stop off at Emerald Cave, swim through its clear green waters and the dark cave passage to emerge on the other side in a secluded lagoon featuring a beach from your dreams! Legend has it pirates used to hide treasure here as the only way in and out is the gorgeous cave swim there.

Stop at Ko Kradan, it’s even smaller sister island, for a night of tranquillity in a beachfront bungalow.

The Philippines

It’s no secret that The Philippines has long been on my bucket list. My visit there next year can’t come soon enough and the incredible scenery is just one of the reasons for my fascination. The odds are good; at least one out of the 7,000 islands are bound to beat the pin-worthy Maldives beaches.

My bets are on El Nido, Palawan or how about Manjuyod Sandbar just off Negros Island? Christian LeBlanc, a favourite travel vlogger of mine, published wanderlust inducing drone footage of his visit here and I’m sure it’s 10 times more stunning in person.

The Cook Islands

The Cook Islands aren’t often shouted about but they definitely should be – for now we will keep them to ourselves! The 15 drops of tropical heaven float in the Pacific Ocean surrounded by beautiful reef. You can expect clear turquoise waters and soft white sand whilst you kick back and take in the mountain views on the main island Rarotonga.

Do a little island hopping to its quieter neighbours and enjoy miles of beach to yourself.


Fiji is postcard, picture perfect. From the wonders of the underwater world to the waterfalls and perfect sandy shores. The gorgeous islands don’t have to break the bank and there are plenty of budget guesthouses dotted around so you can enjoy the luxury of Tahiti or Hawaii in the more peaceful (and budget friendly) surroundings of Fiji’s incredible locations. A part from the drop dead gorgeous beaches, twinkling clear waters & insane diving spots, many visitors rave about the locals being extremely welcoming. And let’s not even get started on the sunsets… they’re to die for!

Gili islands

When I talk to people about Bali they usually rave about its neighbour, Gili. The three islands perched on Indonesia’s seas are getting increasingly popular among travellers. Scattered with coconut palms and lined with perfect beaches, hip bars and fantastic diving spots, the islands capture the hearts of many with their beauty.

Head to Gili Trawangan for streets full of bohemian bars, food spots and trendy guesthouses with plenty of nightlife on your doorstep. Head off the grid to the smallest of the three, Gili Meno, for a true taste of local life or escape to Gili Air for a perfect balance of hustle and elegance.

As the Maldives is so undeniably stunning and slowly disappearing into the ocean due to global warming you should definitely try and make a visit whilst they’re still around! But until the money starts rolling in I could definitely escape to any of these idyllic destinations. 

This is a Student Travel Writer competition entry.

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