Nothing screams holiday like sipping a cocktail on a lounge chair, enjoying the summer breeze and the therapeutic lull of the waves as the sky turns into an array of pinks and oranges.
Beaches have long been a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, seen by the high numbers who flock there during peak summer times, with many countries cashing in on beach clubs to provide the ultimate beach experience.
Here are some beach clubs around Southeast Asia that allow visitors to wine and dine, lounge around and hit up the bar, all while watching the sun go down.
The island that perfected the art of chilling and partying has multiple popular beach clubs. The first big brand was Ku De Ta, founded in 1999 when Seminyak was still mostly covered in paddy fields. It has been a success ever since.
So successful that someone opened a restaurant and club in 2010 on the roof of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore using the same name. It was a good coup d’etat for as long as it lasted. In 2015 a court in Singapore ruled that they didn’t have the rights to the name. The Venue, then owned by LVMH’s Investment arm L Capital Asia (now L Catterton Asia), changed its name to Ce La Vi. Well, that’s life.
Meanwhile in Bali, Ku De Ta remained a popular beach club with a prestigious
restaurant and many visiting international DJs. But other beach clubs soon followed suit. Since Seminyak became more congested, clubs – such as Potato Head, Vue Beach Club, Finns, Como and La Brisa – started popping up north of Seminyak to Petitenget and Canggu. Some more club, others more boho chic.
Aside from the expansion north, beach club entrepreneurs have found their way south of the airport too, giving those around Uluwatu their own hunting grounds. El Kabron Spanish Restaurant & Cliff Club overlooking Dreamland beach is the perfect place for stylish fiestas and siestas.
The restaurant (be sure to make a reservation) serves Spanish and Mediterranean food prepared by the Executive Chef from Spain. The infinity pool and loungers are perfect for chilling and sipping champagne while enjoying the sunset. They have regular live acts and DJs. Style is instilled with a dress code (you can’t wear t-shirts with a beverage logo on it) and selfie sticks and drones are not allowed.
Karma Beach Club and Sundays Beach Club are probably located on Bali’s most southern spot. Karma managed to find itself an actual beach and positions itself as an oasis offering sand-and-surf hedonism. Here you can combine chilling with swimming, snorkelling, eating, drinking, partying and watching movies (every Monday night).
The Day Club
The latest addition to the beach club scene is OMNIA in Uluwatu next to one of the best resorts on the island, Alila Villas Uluwatu. OMNIA has taken it to another level. Perched on cliffs, 80 metres above the sea with a splendid view of the Indian Ocean, it’s no wonder MTV Australia named this the best place in the world to watch the sunset.
There is not a beach in sight – that’s why it’s called a ‘day club’, arguably another oxymoron. A day club is basically a nightclub with the roof off and where everyone walks around in swimwear. There are multiple pools, bars, swimup bars, dining areas (which look more like spectator stands), daybeds, cabanas and private booths with their own private plunge pools. There is a lot to see, so better make sure you can be seen.
Thai beaches have always been full of life. The Full Moon party is roughly 30 years old. Some believe that two Dutch guys had the brilliant and perhaps innocent idea of having a small hippie party with beer, weed and mushrooms (the magic kind) on the island of Ko Phangan (near Ko Samui). The full moon was the only illumination on the island and so the party was born. Unfortuantely, this quickly grew out of control and today 30,000 people get together to ‘celebrate’ a night of techno, drugs, sex and buckets.
Phuket and Ko Samui have a wide range of beach clubs (with sand) worth hanging out at. They all seem to combine good food, quality furniture and service with great views and a lively night scene with some only closing after midnight. In Thailand the pool often seems to be the focal point of the club with beds and cabanas facing the pool (packed with humanity) instead of facing the beach (filled with serenity).
Singapore and Malaysia
Singapore, more known for its roopftop bars rather than its beaches, has a few beach clubs, mostly on Sentosa Island, a family-friendly favourite. Tanjong Beach Club and Mambo Beach Club seem to have the same concept and appeal as the popular Bali and Thai beach clubs with good food, quallity furniture and DJs. The beach clubs are more chilled and child-friendly during the day- perhaps catering for the many expat families, but at night the DJs come out to play.
Despite 4,675km of coastline and holiday islands such as Langkawi, Penang, Tioman and Perhentian, disappointingly Malaysia has not one decent beach club to speak of. Unless, of course, you count the one on Jalan P. Ramlee in downtown KL. So if it’s beach clubs you’re after, you’re better off heading to one of Malaysia’s Southeast Asian neighbours instead.