BANG TAO BEACH
Bang Tao is a large open bay with one of Phuket's longest beaches. The Laguna Phuket complex, containing five luxury hotels and an 18-hole golf course, dominates a large area of Bang Tao. However, it is not difficult to find a quiet spot to enjoy the crystal clear water and stunning white sand.
The southern end of the beach is more developed and is where most of the accommodation is located, so if you want the beach to yourself, walk to the northern end where its much quieter. There are a number of shops, restaurants and bars near the entrance to Laguna Phuket, as well as those within the resort complex. The nearby town of Cherng Talay has a few shops as well as a fresh market. Canal Village within Laguna Phuket comprises about 30 shops, mostly selling handicrafts and clothing items.
CAPE PANWA BEACH
Ideal for those seeking peace and relaxation. Cape Panwa is located to the south of Phuket City where lush hills provide magnificent views of the Andaman Sea. Apart from a few resorts and bungalows there is very little tourist development here. However, the area is seeing an increasing amount of high-end property developments. Dining and nightlife options outside of the hotels are quite limited, although Phuket City is not too far away.
Chalong is a large bay with a pier that is the main departure point for diving and fishing trips from Phuket. The pier is a good place to charter boats for fishing, diving or snorkeling trips to nearby islands. Chalong Bay does not have a great beach for swimming due to the muddy bottom and large number of boats moored here. Just inland is Chalong traffic circle. This area is popular among expats living in Phuket and there are some good restaurants and bars nearby.
Kalim Bay is located just to the north of Patong. This area is much quieter than Patong although the beach is not as good for swimming as there are a few rocks and a coral reef. The reef is exposed at low tide and locals can be seen collecting crabs and shrimp.
There are a few hotels here, but overall the area is pretty quiet. Kalim is a good alternative if you want to be nearby the bars and restaurants of Patong, but still want peace and quiet.
A beautiful and serene beach, Kamala is perfect for those looking for a relaxed and laid back beach.
Kamala is about 10 minutes drive north from Patong and a great place for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle. The southern end of this beautiful bay has a coral reef just a few metres offshore. Kamala is not over-developed yet, although there are some guesthouses and a few resorts.
There is a good selection of Thai restaurants, noodle shops and a few western restaurants in the area. The local people are mostly ethnic Malay and there are some good local restaurants serving tasty Muslim food.
Karon beach is a long stretch of powdery white sand just south of Patong. The beach is very long so it never feels overcrowded.
At 4km, Karon is one of Phuket's longest beaches. Although there are a few large resorts and hotels, they are spread out and the area feels very relaxed. As in Patong, the hotels are separated from the beach by a road. However, unlike Patong, the beach is always fairly quiet. The beach itself is quite exposed, with little or no natural shade. The sand is so fine and powdery that it squeaks when you walk on it.
The southern point has a coral reef that stretches towards Kata and Pu Island. There are not as many watersports activities on Karon beach as in Patong or Kata. During the rainy season Karon can be good for surfing but dangerous for swimming due to the large waves and strong rip currents.
Towards the southern end of Phuket is Kata Beach, which is divided into Kata Yai and Kata Noi. Both beaches offer stunning scenery and a relaxed atmosphere. Kata Yai: This is the larger of the two beaches. The bay is very picturesque with Koh Pu (Pu Island) at the northern end. Half of the beach is bordered by a road, while the southern half has a few resorts right on the beach. Club Med occupies a large portion of the land behind the beach road towards the northern end of the beach, keeping that end of the beach fairly quiet.
Due to its fairly small size, Kata has a cozy feel about it and is great for families. There are quite a few shops, restaurants and bars around Kata Centre and between Kata Yai and Kata Noi. Kata is perhaps the best compromise between the hectic pace of Patong and some of the quieter beaches on Phuket. Kata Nio: Kata Noi only has a few hotels and is dominated by the Kata Thani Hotel. The beach is lovely and there has only been a little development.
LAEM SINGH BEACH
A small secluded beach that can get quite crowded during the high season. Easy to get to but can also be easy to miss if you are not careful.
Laem Singh beach is located a few minutes drive north of Kamala in a small curving bay at the foot of forest-fringed cliffs. There is no accommodation here and not much other development except a few restaurants.
It is quite easy to miss Laem Singh, the only indication of the entrances are small signs on the road between Kamala and Surin. Both entrances to the beach have car parks, for which there is sometimes a small charge. If you don't fancy the steep walk down, head for the second car park on the road coming from Kamala heading north. The path here is longer but not as steep.
Because the beach can only be accessed by a walk down a steep path, Laem Singh has a more private feel than many of Phuket's other beaches. Nevertheless it can get quite busy on the weekends with plenty of sunbeds as its one of the most beautiful spots on the island.
MAI KAO BEACH
Located just north of the airport is Mai Kao beach, an incredibly long and deserted stretch of sand.
There is no tourist development here except for the JW Marriott Resort & Spa. Mai Kao is the longest beach on the island and also the most deserted. If you really want to get away from it all this is the beach for you.
Mai Kao is part of the Sirinath National Park, which also includes Nai Yang and nai Thorn, the next beaches along to the south. The area was declared a national park in 1981 to protect the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles that lay their eggs here from November to February.
NAI HARN BEACH
A picturesque and quiet beach near the southern tip of the island. There aren't many places to stay here but the beach is easy to get to from Kata and Karon.
One of the loveliest beaches in Phuket, Nai Harn is relatively undeveloped thanks to the Samnak Song Nai Harn monastery which occupies a large portion of the beachfront land. At its northern is Le Meridien Phuket Yacht Club which has a few bars and restaurants just before it, but generally the area is quiet.
Behind the beach is a lagoon where there are some upmarket housing developments and a few good bars and restaurants.
Ao Sane: This is a small rocky beach that can only be reached by a small road that runs underneath the Phuket Yacht Club. There are a couple of bungalow operations here as well as a couple of restaurants.
NAI THORN BEACH
Nai Thon beach lies about 15km south of the airport. This pristine beach is a great place to get away from the crowds.
Nai Thon is fairly undeveloped and is a nice quiet place to sit in the sun or take in a swim. Although its quiet, the beach is not completely deserted and there are a few sunbeds available for hire. There are also a few small restaurants that serve fresh seafood and local dishes.
Nai Thon is part of the Sirinath Marine National Park, which also includes Mai Kao and Nai Yang , the next beaches along to the north. The area was declared a national park in 1981 to protect the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles that lay their eggs here from November to February.
Part of the reason Nai Thon has managed to remain so peaceful is that it is quite isolated. The road leading to the beach winds through jungle and rubber plantations as well as over a few hills. There are a few places to stay, including some bungalows and guesthouses.
NAI YANG BEACH
Nai Yang is a long curved bay fringed with tall casuarinas trees. The beach is a popular spot among locals who come to picknick on the weekends.
There are also a few local seafood stalls and restaurants along part of the beach. Camping is allowed on the beach.
Nai Yang is part of the Sirinath National Park, which also includes mai Kao, the next beach along to the north, and Nai Thorn, the next beach along to the south. The area was declared a national park in 1981 to protect the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles that lay their eggs here from November to February.
Just south of the Kata viewpoint, Nui beach offers the opportunity to enjoy a quiet idyllic beach only a few minutes drive from the busy resort areas of Phuket.
The catch is that its one of the most difficult beaches to get to. The dirt road down to the beach is very steep and should only be attempted with a 4x4 vehicle or trail bike. You should drive down the red dirt track for about 1km, then park and walk the rest of the way. The part leading down to the beach is very steep and the walk back can be very tiring.
Unfortunately there is another catch when going to Nui beach. There is a parking fee of 250 baht per day, which is basically an entrance fee. This also gets you a sun lounger and a free drink. Although all beaches in Thailand are public property, access to the beach is over private land, which means the landowner can charge people to get to the beach.
For some this is a small price to pay for a beautiful secluded beach, where you don't have to listen to the whir of jet-skis or be bothered by vendors.
Pansea beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on Phuket. Unfortunately, the beach can only be reached through the grounds of two exclusive resorts that occupy the beachfront land.
The luxurious Chedi and Amanpuri resorts share this magnificent cove at the northern end of Surin beach. Unfortunately, this heavenly enclave is only accessible through the grounds of either hotel, effectively making it a private beach. This makes it particularly appealing to the international jet-set who frequent these resorts.
Phuket's busiest resort area, Patong has the greatest concentration of bars, restaurant and shops on the island.
Patong has suffered from a lot of negative publicity in recent years for being over-developed and its hedonistic party scene. However, the majority of visitors to Phuket still choose to spend their time in Patong and for good reason. Patong has much to offer and despite its reputation for naughty nightlife, Patong is also very popular with families.
The 3km long beach still possesses beautiful white sand and clear water, which is now visibly clearer after the tsunami. The deck chairs and umbrellas are now back in force, providing an ideal place to relax and soak up the sun with all the conveniences you could want nearby.
You'll find everything here you could need on your holiday. There are numerous shops and stalls, as well as other leisure and recreational activities. However, if you are looking for a quiet beach retreat, you probably won't find it in Patong.
Rawai Beach is popular with locals who come to enjoy seafood and the lovely view of the islands from the shore.
In the days before Phuket became a popular holiday destination, Rawai Beach was where locals from Phuket Town would come to enjoy the seaside. These days, the beach itself is not that nice with many small boats anchored off the shore, although it is safe to swim all year round due to its position facing Phang Nga Bay.
At the eastern end of the beach is a sea-gypsy village which has a small fish market. Here you can also buy local handicrafts and assorted Thai snacks. The nearby viewpoint at Laem Prom Thep , the southernmost tip of the island, is particularly popular at sunset.
Surin Beach, just north of Kamala, is an undeveloped stretch of sand lined with casuarina trees. Although there are now a few hotels springing up Surin is still quiet and peaceful.
Surin is quite popular with locals who frequent the seafood stalls and restaurants that line the beach under the shade of the casuarina trees, and can get a little busy during the weekends during the high season.
Inland from the beach is Surin Village, a predominantly muslim area of Phuket. There is a small market here and some restaurants where you can sample delicious Masaman curry.
YA NUI BEACH
Ya Nui is a small and quiet beach tucked away at the bottom of the hill between Laem Prom Thep and the next hill to the west with the windmills.
There is a small reef that is good for snorkelling during the dry season. Considering Ya Nui's proximity to many of the island's hotels in the south of the island, the beach still remains of Phuket's best kept secrets.