Pretty much every beach in Phuket is on the west coast, stretching some 45km from Mai Khao beach in the north to Rawai in the South. The 3 main tourist beaches of Patong, Karon and Kata are in the southern half of the island. Away from these beaches there are some very secluded spots and many beaches that are largely undeveloped. Some have just a few hotels or resorts, most have long stretches of uncrowded sand. Some are a bit rocky at low tide....
(above) This photo was taken at "Khao Kad Beach" at Cape Panwa on the east side of Chalong Bay - can be rocky at low tide, but one of our favourite little restaurants is right here. The fact that it's rocky at low tide keeps it quiet! As time goes by, I’ll post more information about many of the beaches. This is just a very quick introduction, and may not mention every possible Phuket beach.
Of course before heading to Phuket you'll need a hotel first :
• Recommended Phuket Hotels
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Phuket Beaches on Jamie’s Phuket
Karon is developed, but nothing like Patong. Still has a quieter feel to it. The beach is long, the sand is fine, and there are accommodation options to suit everyone - 5 star to fan rooms in guesthouses... The beach area has been revamped over the last couple of years, and every time I hit Karon after coming from Patong I think "wow, this is nice". Karon is clean and well looked after, though can be accused of being rather "boring" since much of the beachfront is taken up by resorts such as the Hilton Arcadia, Thavorn Palm Beach, South Sea Resort, Andaman Seaview and many more. There are 2 main "centres" at either end of the beach. The south end is quieter and is only a few minutes from Kata, so is a good location. I work there as manager of Sunrise Divers.
• My Suggested Karon Beach Hotels
• Karon Beach Hotels - Full List
• More info about Karon Beach
Nai Yang Beach
Just south of Phuket Airport, Nai Yang beach has a few nice resorts and part of the beach is a National Park. Some beachfront restaurants close to the Nai Yang Beach Resort, but otherwise very quiet. Some lower budget places away from the beach too.
• More about Nai Yang Beach
• Hotels near Nai Yang Beach
The first beach North of Patong (unless you count Kalim and Nakalay), Kamala is not as developed as the other 3 main beaches and being a largely Muslim community has a different feel. When I came to Phuket in 1999 I don’t think there were any bars in Kamala. It was hard enough to buy a beer in a local shop! There are a few bars now, but even now parts of Kamala beach are more like a local fishing community. There are a few bigger hotels and a smattering of small resorts and guesthouses. The North end of the beach is very quiet. Kamala was the worst hit of Phuket’s beaches on December 26th 2004 and it took a while to get back to normal. Kamala is also home to Phuket Fantasea, one of Phuket's biggest tourist attractions.
• Kamala Beach - More Information and Photos
• Kamala Beach Hotels
• Kamala Temple
Laem Ka Beach
One of Phuket’s quiet secrets and not well signposted… located just before Rawai on the road from Chalong. No hotels, no restaurants except a little restaurant, just some sand, rocks and a great view. I know it's not as secret as it used to be though.... but still worth a visit.
• More about Laem Ka Beach
Ao Sane Beach
Barely known, Ao Sane is home to some bungalows and the Baan Krating Jungle Resort. To get there you first come to Naiharn beach, and must drive through the Nai Harn Resort. A quiet spot with a nice view across Naiharn bay. There is one small restaurant serving Thai food. I find it a nice place for a cold afternoon beer. (note - I have not been for years, needs an update!)
Ya Nui Beach
A tiny little place just North of Naiharn, Ya Nui has a few bungalows which have been rebuilt following the tsunami which hit this little beach hard. I have never seen more than a dozen people here but it has got more popular recently. Has a few small restaurants just over the small road and good snorkeling in high season.
• More about Ya Nui Beach
• More about Ao Sane beach - yeh, needs updating
In between Nai Yang and Bang Tao you find Naithon. The roads in are winding and hilly, and the beach is not very developed. A few small resorts, a few places to eat, a little dive shop ... it's still a quiet spot, though some new hotels are appearing.
• More about Naithon beach
• Naithonburi Resort Review
• More Hotels near Naithon Beach
Kata Noi Beach
Kata Noi is the end of the road. Just a few minutes drive from Kata Beach, it's home to the Kata Thani Resort and Mom Tri's Villa Royale, yet retains a quiet feeling, mainly I think because the road goes nowhere!
• More about Kata Noi Beach
• Katathani Resort Review
• Mom Tri's Villa Royale Review
• More Hotels near Kata Noi Beach
Close to Chalong Bay, Rawai is full of small restaurants and food stalls and is a great place to rent a longtail boat to nearby islands. Not a swimming beach really, but makes a good stop off on a tour of the SW corner of Phuket.
• More about Rawai beach
• Hotels near Rawai Beach
• Boat trip from Rawai Beach to Koh Kaew Yai island
Layan is very nice - a real beautiful spot at the far north end of Bang Tao. Part of the beach is a national park. There are a couple of resorts here, but they are built off the beach and do not detract from the beauty of the area. Very quiet. We have been a few times over the years for little BBQ's. It has been developed somewhat in 2013 - 14 with a "beach club" arriving to spoil the view.
• More about Layan Beach
More Phuket Beaches...
Not my favourite place in the world, Patong is the most developed tourist real estate in Thailand, and for the most part has not been made to look really pretty. If you are looking for full on tourism, plenty of accommodation and shopping, loads of restaurants, a shed load of bars and a beach full of beach chairs and umbrellas, Patong is the place to be! I tend to visit Patong only if necessary for business, though there are some great hotels and a few places to eat that I like and even Patong has quiet spots away from the centre of town, such as Paradise Beach. And I guess the north end of Patong is not too bad.
• My Recommended Patong Beach Hotels
• Patong Beach Hotels - Full List
• More about Paradise Beach
Of the main beaches, Kata is more popular with younger people, and is a very scenic beach with the island of Koh Pu offshore and with lots of accommodation nearby, but very little right on the beach since most of the beach road is taken up by Club Med. Only at the South end are other places right on the beach, such as Kata Beach Resort and The Boathouse. Kata somehow retains a quiet feel despite being pretty busy. Just over the hill to the south is the even quieter Kata Noi.
• My Recommended Kata Beach Hotels
• Kata Beach Hotels - Full List
Bang Tao Beach
Home to the Laguna resorts and a couple of other hotels, but Bang Tao village is not close to the beach, so if you stay there you need to drive or take a taxi to find any local life or more dining options. The Laguna hotels are some of the best in Phuket. There are also some other great hotel options in the area - most are quite expensive resorts, though with late booking you can get a very good deal - see Bang Tao Beach Hotels.
Was very quiet a few years ago, but has rapidly developed. A lot of new hotels over the last few years such as Twin Palms and the new Doubletree Resort, and a lot of condos/villas/apartments on the hillsides near the beach. Still, the beachfront is not that busy, and there are loads of small beachside restaurants. We like a small one right at the far North end. Surin is just North of Kamala. In between you find Laem Singh beach which has been touted as a quiet beach for many years and thus is not any more! In 1999 when I came here, Laem Sing was very quiet and made a nice getaway from Patong. Now, if you want quiet, I think there are better options.
• Surin Beach Hotels
(above) my young boy at Surin Beach, way back in 2006
(above) Laem Sing Beach, year 2000. It was very quiet in those days!
OK, that’ll do for now. I have not even mentioned Mai Khao beach, Naiharn beach, Banana Beach, Freedom beach ... I guess some more "beach" blog posts are needed, and I need more spare time for blogging, but like I say, I’m not really a beach bum!