Follow me on a journey through my Phuket Beach Guide to some of the best beaches on the island, including Patong Beach, Karon Beach, Bang Tao Beach and many more. Imagine big blue skies, crystal clear waters, swaying shady palms and silky soft sand.
This is the beauty of Phuket. It is one of the most stunning resort islands in southern Thailand and certainly the most popular together with Pattaya. The major difference is that Phuket is a true tropical island paradise and much more relaxing than its mainland counterpart.
International flights from around the world fly directly to this fascinating and best-loved destination and with just cause. Come and relax amidst picturesque villages, coconut groves, rubber plantations and exquisite beaches.
Swim in warm waters, dive around colourful coral reefs, take trips via longboats to neighbouring islands, shop till you drop at hundreds of Phuket beachfront stores. Whatever takes your fantasy, you owe it to yourself to get to any one of the Phuket beach havens.
Patong Beach is a majestic curve of pure white soft sandy shore stretching for three kilometres and situated right in the heart of Phuket. By far the most popular, but also the busiest. Stuck between mountain and sea, it's hard to imagine that this stunning beach resort was little more than a big banana plantation less than 40 years ago.
With the plantation now long gone and replaced with high-rise hotels, resorts and condominiums, this beautiful Phuket beach has become one of Thailand's most sort after tropical paradise hot spots.
It is little wonder that Patong Beach, dotted with so many colourful parasols for your rest and relaxation, has developed into a haven for hungry tourists all hankering for some fun in the sun. Apart from doing absolutely nothing other than catching the odd cool breeze and a tan, if you really feel like doing something more energetic, then there are plenty of water sports to indulge your every whim.
Para-gliding, para-sailing, windsurfing and jet skiing are just a few that come to mind. When all energy is spent, you can hop across the beach road for a nice ice cold beer or whatever else floats your boat.
Karon Beach is set on a 2.5 kilometre long and often quiet strip of soft squeaky golden shore and situated a little further south from Patong. Although this beach is free of big commercialised development, there are many budget hotels and resorts that lie in between empty former rice paddy plots.
A good alternative should you prefer a quieter spot away from the crowds. Only be aware that the beach has little natural shade and is also not a good place to swim during the rainy season between June and October due to the seas strong undercurrents.
Kata Noi Beach and Kata Yai Beach are two small and very picturesque coves that offer a more intimate feel. Here you can catch up with some leisurely snorkelling and sunbathe without too much disturbance. Otherwise, not much else happens here.
Nai Harn Beach is set on a sweeping shore and is a delightful Phuket beach with little development at the island's southernmost point. A short distance from here you can stop over at the Laem Prom Thep Headland and take advantage of some spectacular sunsets from the viewpoint set high above the bays. Take in a leisurely stroll or just relax as you admire the beautiful scenery.
Rawai Beach was originally the first tourist beach on Phuket Island. It's further on from Nai Harn Beach, just around the corner from the viewpoint at Laem Prom Thep. Before the influx of tourists, the beach was noted for its sea-gypsy village and the fishermen who make a living in the area. Locals often drove from Phuket Town to spend their weekend relaxing underneath the beach's casuarina trees.
It may not the best beach to go swimming as it's used mostly as a launching pad for long-tail boat rides to neighbouring islands such as those of Coral Island, Koh Lone or Racha Island. The first thing you'll notice when you arrive are the boats lining up along the shore. You can hire one of these boats to take you on a snorkelling or fishing trip.
What you may also discover is that there are a fair number of foreign expats living in the area. Most lead a kinda bohemian lifestyle and if of any interest to you, you can catch up on their adventures at their favourite nightlife beachfront bars. Rawai also has a couple of luxury beachfront resorts such as the Serenity and Mangosteen resorts.
Kamala Beach is located three kilometres (two miles) north of
Patong. It's a tranquil Phuket beach set against a backdrop of forested hills
rising over half a kilometre. This quaint bay still possesses one of
the few remaining Islamic fishing hamlets with its immaculately kept
gardens. At the northern end of this beach is Phuket Fantasea which is a Disney-like theme park and a major attraction for the whole family. If you haven't been here, now is the right time.
Laem Singh Beach is a pretty little sandy cove and one of Phuket's finest. It's located a few hundred metres north of Fantasea
down a couple of steep paths west of the main road. The beach is ever
so picturesque with a combination of turquoise water and smooth soft
white sand. It's the perfect place to take the kids as not only is there
plenty of shade, it's secluded and great for swimming.
Surin Beach and Pansea Beach are two sandy coves a little further up from Kamala Beach. Surin is not the best of beaches and is dominated by some ugly condominiums and a long stretch of riff-raff seafood shacks while Pansea is a far more idyllic secluded beach offering a more picturesque setting. This particular beach, I believe, is a firm favourite of royalty as well as some Hollywood stars. Watch out for dangerous undercurrents especially during the monsoon season.
Bang Tao Beach is an eight kilometre (5 miles) stretch of white sandy beach that seems to go on forever. Excellent for pure relaxation and endless strolls. It's also a good beach for windsurfing, but again, you must be aware of the undertow off the coast. This beach is dominated by the immense Laguna Resort comprising of some five luxurious hotels set in exquisite landscaped gardens and surrounded by a series of lagoons. A great place to stay if this beach is for you. Apart from the excellent restaurants at Laguna Resort, there are quite a few other dining establishments along the beachfront you should check out.
Nai Thon Beach is a little further north and the least commercialised, stretching along the golden shores for little more than half a kilometre. This perfectly formed beach is shaded by casuarina trees and surrounded by plantations of coconut, banana, rubber and pineapples and set against a backdrop of lush green hills. There are a few restaurants and bars as well as a dive centre offering long-tail boat rides to some of the greatest snorkelling and diving sites. You'll have to use your own transport as there is no public transport to this beach.
Nai Yang Beach is a lovely clean Phuket Beach, good for swimming
at its southerly end and offering plenty of shade from its Casuarina trees that run the entire length of the bay. The beach is
protected by the Sirinath National Park, so you will find little in the
way of development here except for its famous open-air shack type
restaurants selling mostly barbequed seafood and wood-fired pizzas at
tables set right on the sandy beach. A hugely popular pastime place for
families. The Beach Club at the southern end of the bay is a
stylish beachfront bar hosting excellent music as well as
hosting weekly parties.
Mai Khao Beach is a long stretch of coastline situated on the northwestern side of Phuket. It's a long sandy beach with a continuous line of Casuarina trees running along just about the entire length of its shore. The beach is 11 kilometres long and possibly the least developed on the island. The Sirinat National Park is situated in the southern section and the JW Marriott Resort is up in the north.
In the past giant leatherback turtles came ashore to lay their eggs on the beach, but that doesn't happen anymore due to egg poaching, resort development and pollution. And just like there are no more turtles, there will be times when you could easily have the beach all to yourselves. To get to Mai Khao travel along the main 402 highway and then follow the directions to Turtle Village. Once there you'll find a road leading directly to the beach via the Mai Khao Dream Resort.
Just be aware that the beach is not always in pristine condition as some people tend to leave their rubbish lying around instead of taking all their crap back with them when they leave. Also between the months of May and November swimming is not such a good idea as the shore tends to drop off into the Andaman Sea rather suddenly.
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