Few islands can boast of such an abundance of sandy beaches and clear waters as Phuket. The winding coastal roads along the west coast of this 540-square-km island offer stunning views and easy access to some of the world’s finest beaches. Whether one wants to sample the frenetic pace of Patong or find solitude on a remote stretch of sand in the north, Phuket’s beaches have it all for the sun seeker. The monsoon rains of May-October can bring unpredictable swimming conditions, so heed the posted flag warnings.
Patong’s 2 km strip of golden sand is one of the most popular beaches in Phuket, it’s a place to watch the world go by. By day, Patong Beach is a hive of activity with para-sail and jet-ski operators, boat drivers, beach vendors and masseuses all vying for the attention of the many visitors relaxing on the beach chairs. During November to April (NE monsoon) the water is very flat and calm.
Karon Beach, featuring a long stretch of squeaky white sand, is less hectic than Patong but still offers a full range of facilities, dining and activities. While it’s a fast-growing area, Karon is spread out and rarely feels crowded. Karon is concentrated around three main areas: The Karon Plaza area on the south end features a number of budget guesthouses, restaurants and bars. The side sois are worth exploring, particularly the one that leads to a small art community, where some budding Thai painters have built a complex of huts, pubs and art galleries in which they live and work. Nearby, on the beach road leading to Kata, is the football stadium, which hosts both local and international sporting events. The sprawling grounds of Thavorn Palm Beach Resort and the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa dominate much of the central part of Karon. Just north of these is Aroona Plaza. Aroona, which opened a few years ago, houses a range of handicraft shops, good restaurants and cafes, a few bars and a hotel modeled on the Sion-Portuguese architecture of Old Phuket. The wide beach-side avenue is ideal for taking an evening stroll and doing some shopping. The north end features Karon Circle, with its sculptures of workers commemorating Phuket’s tin-mining and agricultural past.
The pleasant bay of Kata, just a few minutes south of Karon Beach, entices and charms many visitors with its white sands and clear waters. Very popular with families, Kata is an all round favorite due to its spectacular palm-lined beach, great restaurants, lively but not raucous nightlife and varied accommodation options – all close to the beach. From May to October surfers flock to catch Kata’s waves and from November to April the beach is alive with sun-seekers. Kata is split into two focal areas: Kata Center, which is at the northern end close to Karon and Kata South, home to several resorts. The Club Med takes up most of the beach road, resulting in a shaded footpath that makes for a pleasant stroll. Continuing on through the village, visitors will find an abundance of shops to browse in, from souvenir and ready-to-wear outlets, to 7-Elevens and local mini-marts, to name-brand fashion stores. There are also plenty of dive shops and tour operators to assist those looking to explore beyond the beach.
Kata Noi Beach
This small bay of stunning white sand, separated from Kata by a headland, is a quiet and peaceful retreat. The Kata Thani Resort complex dominates the area, while a few shops, small hotels and restaurants line the beach road. A nice place for a relaxing snorkel or swim.
Bang Tao Beach
Bang Tao is a study in contrasts, with the luxurious resorts and villas along its 6km (4 mile) stretch of beach just a few minutes’ away from the town of Cherng Talay, where many villagers still make their living as their ancestors did – by fishing, farming and rubber tapping. The northern tip of the beach, so far untouched by development, is still an area where visitors might find that they have the beach to themselves. Apart from going to the beach and a few bars and restaurants there’s not much that you need to leave your resort for.
Naturally beautiful Surin is known as ‘Millionaires Row’ due the the top-end celebrity haunts Amanpuri, Twin-palms and The Chedi amongst the luxury resorts there, as well as the many US$ 1 million+ houses that sit proudly on top of the hills overlooking the Andaman Sea.Although popular with tourists it’s not a busy resort town, more like a coastal village. Fine white sand and turquoise water has ensured that the picturesque beach is very popular with tourists and Thais alike.
Pansea is a tiny cove of glittering white sand – but only accessible to the rich and famous guests of The Chedi and Amanpuri Resorts.
This well-enclosed bay and fishing village has developed rapidly in recent years yet it still retains a small-town feel. Popular with families, Kamala Beach is lined with casual restaurants and food stalls, with good snorkeling at the rocky north end.
Laem Singh Beach
This small, hidden gem of a beach just south of Surin is accessible only by walking down a fairly steep path from the road. Even so, it can get busy in the high season so get there early for a beach chair. A few rustic restaurants offer cold drinks and food. A pretty, quiet place to wile away an afternoon.
Ao Sane Beach (Jungle Beach)
A little beach reached via a dirt road that runs through the car park of Le Royal Meridien Phuket Yacht Club in Nai Harn. Sometimes called “Jungle Beach”. Usually a quiet and peaceful place, with decent coral outcroppings off its mostly rocky shore. Just one very in-obtrusive resort here, the Baan Krating.
Snuggled into the headland south of Patong, Emerald Beach (‘Hat Tri Tra’ in Thai) is the perfect place for sun lovers and those who are dead serious about going for the maximum tan. There is a long line of northern-facing sunbeds along this 500-metre beach and it is popular with guests from the nearby Merlin Beach Resort, being the nearest large beach to it.
Paradise Beach will surprise you. For a start, it’s stunningly beautiful; one of the most attractive of the many wonderful beaches Phuket has to offer. It also features safe swimming all year round. It’s compact and has a great view right across Patong Bay. The beach
itself is barely 150 meters long and there is another small beach next to it, reached by a path through the rocks.
Laem Ka Beach
Laem Ka is unique for various reasons. First of all it’s the only eastern-facing beach in the south of Phuket that offers good swimming and secondly, it’s a total full-on Thai experience. This sheltered, 150 meter long, boulder-framed beach is the ideal picnic spot as from midday on it is shady and cool. For many locals it offers the opportunity to chat away Sunday afternoon while their children splash around in Laem Ka’s safe and blue waters just meters away.
Ya Nui Beach
Ya Nui lies in the shadow of two of Phuket’s loveliest viewpoints; Phrom Thep and the viewpoint featuring large white windmill/propeller power generators. It’s a charming little cove featuring good snorkeling, kayaking and fishing. During high season there is a line of sun loungers for hire as well as a stand that rents out masks, fins, kayaks and body boards for very reasonable prices.
First “discovered” by King Rama VII in the 1920s, Rawai is Phuket’s longest-established beach resort, though the sea-gypsy village at its north end probably hasn’t changed much over the years. The beach is lined with open-air seafood stalls and restaurants for casual dining under the shade of the casuarina trees. A popular launching point for boat trips to Racha, Coral and other islands.
This bustling bay, a major launch area for boat and dive trips, is filled with bobbing vessels of all shapes and sizes throughout the year. Plenty of casual restaurants, dive shops, fishing charter and tour operators, watersports equipment suppliers, Internet shops and even yoga and Reiki centres are packed into the short street leading to the pier.
The lovely Cape Panwa, just south of the busy Phuket Town, remains a peaceful, unspoiled gem of a place. Its lush hills, sandy coves, mangroves and tidal flats offer a quiet place to explore away from the crowds.
Nai Harn Beach Phuket
Nai Harn Beach in Phuket is a small, but very nice beach. Nai-Harn lies at the southern end of Phuket-Island. Some nice hotels are located here at Nai-Harn-Beach, so this will be a perfect place to relax. Promthep-Cape is very near. Also there is a huge tree-shaded pick-nick-area near the beach.