Kata Noi Beach
The beach is clean and is framed by headlands at either end. I know that in the high season you can get some decent snorkeling off the beach. When I was there (a hot low season day) the sand was almost too hot to walk on. Small massage shacks were doing a good business and there were a fair number of people on the beach and a few surfers trying to catch a wave. I don't think Kata Noi ever gets crowded, though. The one road behind the beach is quiet, there are a few restaurants, a few small hotels such as Kata Noi Bay Inn and Kata Noi Club Bungalows.
The relative isolation is a good thing for the taxi drivers! You can't spend your whole vacation at Kata Noi Beach. Kata is just about walkable over the hill (I saw some people doing it), but the hot weather and general lazy I'm-on-holiday feeling is why taxi drivers do so well. I might walk to Kata, but then get a taxi back! It's a bit of a slog up the hill!
The beach really is very nice. But I have not yet mentioned the major feature of Kata Noi. This is the Kata Thani Beach Resort which takes up a large proportion of the beachfront. Yes, I reckon it must be a fine place to stay. You have (more or less) a private beach. The hotel gets great reviews on TripAdvisor and I reckon (if I was a rich man, la la la la la), I might stay at KataThani... or their new wing called The Shore!
• Kata Thani Resort - Booking at Agoda.com
• The Shore at Kata Thani - Booking at Agoda.com
Not sure if they own the beach... don't think so, but they do seem to own all the land! I saw signs like the one below several times, and there were staff around who looked like security to keep out undesirables. I guess the other hotels have an agreement as you do really have to cross Kata Thani territory to reach the sand. In low season things were not so busy. I reckon there might be more beach chairs in high season...
Kata Thani might be the most obvious resort at Kata Noi, but there is a "fancier" place to stay. Mom Tri's Villa Royale is set on the cliffs overlooking the bay. If you are at the north end of the beach you'll find some steps and a path heading a hundred meters or so around the headland to the Villa Royale, which is one of the Top 10 Hotels in Phuket.
• Villa Royale Booking at Agoda.com
There is one other decent place to stay at Kata Noi called Kata Noi Resort. Otherwise you can enjoy Kata Noi if you stay in Kata Beach and just walk, drive or taxi over to "little Kata". As I was leaving and riding up the hill towards Kata Beach I noticed the top of the steps which lead down to Kata Noi beach. Easily missed. A small sign and a narrow, steep stairway. The main entrance to Mom Tri's Villa Royale is a bit further on.
Compared to the "main beaches" Kata Noi still seems to me like a sleepy backwater, albeit with a couple of 5 star resorts. You can have some peace and quiet, a bit of luxury, feel like you're far from the masses, and yet you can drive over to Kata in less than 5 minutes where you find plenty of restaurants and bars for the evening. I like Kata Noi, but it might be a while before I go again unless someone wants to pay me a few nights at the KataThani!