Not everyone wants the same things when it comes to beaches. If you’re happy with crowds and noise and lots of things going on, Phuket has it, and if you’re looking for relaxed and easy going Phuket has that too. There is an enormous choice when it comes to seaside destinations and you’re bound to find the Goldilocks beach to suit your fancy. Wherever you end up the scenery will be spectacular, the turquoise water as warm and welcoming as the locals, with the sun shining and the food hot, spicy and delicious.
Bang Tao Beach, early morning rush hour
The second longest beach in Phuket, at around 6 kilometres, Bang Tao Beach is popular all year round due to its four beach clubs, the Catch Beach Club – the first of its kind in Phuket – the Xana Beach Club, the Dream Beach Club and the Blue Siam Beach Club that even in the low season keep things active. The crowds tend to gather mainly at the south end of the beach while the north end is much quieter and more laid back. Here you’ll find the Laguna Resorts with numerable spas, luxury hotels and villas, a wide choice of restaurants, a whole range of activities on and off the water, and boutique shopping, set in 1,000 acres of tropical parkland that was once a tin mining area. There is a charming Thai temple nearby, Wat Cherngtalay, and a colourful fresh market that offers the best of local produce.
Nai Harn beach, sun worshippers’ paradise
Nai Harn Beach has something of a split personality depending on the season. In the high season, from November to April, sun worshippers and beach goers proliferate and it’s great for swimming and snorkelling, but when the seas become too rough for swimming the area becomes the haunt of surfers. Once known to only a few intrepid travellers the beach is these days very popular with both Thais and visitors and a great many new restaurants and bars have sprung up to cater for the increased tourist influx. In its sheltered bay with a stunning white sand beach and alluring azure seas overlooked by verdant-green hills it is the perfect picturesque tropical setting, a great place to watch the sun go down with a cool drink to hand.
Casuarina trees at Nai Yang Beach
Nai Yang Beach is something of a well-kept secret and the favourite of the more discerning returning travellers who appreciate its northern solitude though it also has plenty of great bars and restaurants, most especially the Black Ginger that many people consider to be the finest Thai restaurant on Phuket. It is a truly beautiful location where you can sit under the leafy shade of the Casuarina trees and sip your favourite tipple or get a soothing massage.
Mai Khao Beach, a symphony of colours
Phuket’s longest beach, Mai Khao, is eleven kilometres of gorgeous seashore where you can still stroll along the sand and scarcely meet another soul. The area is part of the Sirinat National Park and there are some truly amazing resorts and hotels that overlook the beach. There’s not a lot to do at Mai Khao except to enjoy the scenery and the local culinary delights, but once a year during Songkran baby turtles are released into the sea which is a marvellous sight to experience. This is one of the few places that sea turtles, all seven species of which are endangered, come to lay their eggs.
Instagram-worthy shots, Mai Khao Beach
Sai Kaew Beach, also known as Haat Sai Kaew, can be found in the very north of Phuket, and if you’re looking for a Robinson Crusoe-like castaway spot this is it. This seemingly endless stretch of sand along the seashore is absolutely perfect for long romantic walks and leisurely lunches in the shade of a thatched-roof Sala.
Sai Kaew Beach at sunset
With a wide range of hotels from luxurious to budget Kamala Beach has become very popular with families and Scandinavian visitors. The main attraction here is the beach, which is long, with a warm, crystal-clear sea washing onto the pristine white sand and plenty of shade offered by the palm trees that line the beach. It has a pretty good range of restaurants on the beach and shopping outlets and some grand hotels. There is a main thoroughfare running parallel to the beach which has a plethora of shops, convenience stores, bars and restaurants.
Kamala Beach, the morning madness
Nestled in a blissfully idyllic bay, Kata Beach is probably second only to Patong in popularity but has a more relaxed atmosphere. There is plenty to do on and around the beach:shopping, a wave park and a family-orientated, dinosaur-themed mini golf course, and the food choices are excellent and numerous. There is a vibrant nightlife with countless bars, but none of the Go-go bars that you’d find in Patong. When the seas become rougher, and occasionally unsafe to swim in, from May to October, the surfing crowd predominate and there is an annual surf contest held. Kata Beach is one of the best family-oriented beaches on the island.
Kata Beach, sun, sea and snacks
As the name implies, Kata Noi, Little Kata, is a mini version of Kata Beach, with the same stunning scenery, sea and sand. It is smaller and quieter with less people but an excellent choice of food and some great resort hotels. There are a number of bars in the hills above that offer spectacular sunsets and night views over the bay. There are some top quality, award-winning restaurants, with probably Mom Tri’s Kitchen at Mom Tri’s Villa Royale being the most prestigious, serving both Thai and European cuisine in a highly romantic setting.
Kata Noi, golden sunsets are the dusk’s finale
One of Phuket’s longest beaches, Karon is less visited than Patong but nevertheless extremely popular. The unpredictable currents off the wide, flat white-sand beach may be a factor in Karon’s being viewed as a less swimmer-friendly holiday venue, though it’s perfect for long walks and exercise. The waters off the beach have some great snorkelling and diving spots. A varied range of accommodation is available as well a couple of grand hotels right on the beach. There is an active nightlife and a number of excellent restaurants offering local and international fare, and the bars of Kata just up the road are also within easy reach by taxi.
Swimming fun off Karon Beach
Surin Beach is set in one of Phuket’s most beautiful bays with a stunning beach and sea that defies description. Once the haunt of beach clubs and restaurants where partygoers could stroll from restaurant to bar and bar to club and chill till the wee hours of the morning, this scene has pretty much disappeared today. Eating is not a problem though, as a horde of enterprising Thai food vendors line the beach and you can dine under the palm trees, get a massage and gorge on delicious fresh fruit.
The beaches in Phuket offer tropical sunshine almost year round, gorgeous beaches set against the backdrop of the jungle-clad hills that look out over seas of limpid, crystalline turquoise and deep azure, picture postcard perfect for all types of beach lovers. Sunbathe, swim, surf or get a massage and enjoy nature’s beauty while you can.