A holiday to Thailand means exploring some of the best beaches in Phuket and boat tours to the nearby islands.
Phuket has some of the best beaches in Asia if not the world. Phuket is very unique in that there are in excess of 20 high-quality beaches to visit in a relatively compact area and indeed most of the island’s principal resort and accommodation locations are built around very accessible beach front.
We focus on 7 beach locations for this article – they are all favourites of the Simba team and all definitely the best beaches in Phuket.
It is important to remember that substantially all of the best beaches in Phuket Thailand are located at the southern tip of the island or along the length of the West Coast. The East Coast (ie facing Phi Phi Islands and Phang Nga Bay) is dominated by estuaries and mangrove forests; good for the local fisherman but not at all suitable as a beachside location.
With respect to safety, it is very important to note that for most beaches surf life-saving coverage is limited or non-existent and nowhere near the standards typically found in Australia and the US. Accordingly, you must take responsibility for your own safety and like many other beaches around the world, Phuket does experience rough surf conditions (particularly in low season) and strong currents/rips.
This article highlights some of our favourite beaches with a particular focus on the less well-known, family friendly locations and some fabulously hidden secrets.
Now we make our first mention, for those of you with the time to explore a little further afield from Phuket, our personal favorite area to visit outside of Phuket…. Krabi.
Railay beach Krabi, is a truly postcard-worthy, idyllic tropical landscape which has two beaches, one facing east, the other facing west, with a great selection of reasonably priced hotels, bars and restaurants in between these two beaches. Krabi is particularly well known with the adventure seekers and rock climbers and has a much more laid back feel to it than most of the busiest beaches in Phuket.
Rock climbers from far and wide come to Railay Beach Krabi to hone their skills and scale up and down one of the numerous climbing sites in and around the Railay Beach area. It looks exhausting, and it sure is fun to watch these fit and toned guys and girls give it their best shot.
Another highlight if you’re staying overnight in Railay is the sunset relax session on the west facing the beach. Drink some very reasonably priced cocktails on beach mats, while the local Thais and tourists alike enjoy a game of beach football as the sun goes down. A great way to close out an awesome day.
So as an aside trip from visiting the best beaches in Phuket, Krabi should not be missed. It offers something different to the usual tourist destinations out of Phuket being Phi Phi Islands and Phang Nga Bay.
If you have limited time and are unable to spend a night or two in Krabi, a great way to see the highlights of Krabi in one day out of Phuket is the Krabi Island tour operated by Simba. We are the only tour company operating a day tour to Railay Beach Krabi out of Phuket and we are proud to share with you on this tour the amazing sites of Krabi. Arrive at Koh Hong National Park before the crowds as our first stop. This is a truly beautiful beach and you’ll be so glad you got out of bed so early to experience this amazing national park all to yourself (tour departs at 630am).
Following on from breakfast on the beach is a visit to the intriguing Koh Hong Lagoon, then a snorkeling stop nearby Chicken Island before we arrive at what we believe to be the best beach in Krabi, Phranang Beach. Here you will find the most amazing small beach with an enormous and spectacular limestone rock face towering over this beautiful landscape. Look out for the peculiar display of phallic objects in a small cave. A local fisherman’s tradition of days gone by.
For the more adventurous at Phranang cave, there is a secret cave to find and crawl through in the pitch black on your hands and knees, or a challenging climb up a steep side of a hill, clawing your way up the track, clinging to fig tree roots to reach an amazing viewpoint of the famous Railay east and west beaches. You’ll also find a secret lagoon perched way up in the jungle at the top of this limestone karst.
After a busy morning of sightseeing swimming, snorkeling or climbing, it’s time to be whisked away to the Grand Centara Resort Krabi for a scrumptious, indulgent lunch at this beautiful 5-star resort.
Moving on to Nai Harn, this is located in the southern cape near Rawai and work our way north along the west coast towards the airport.
No better place to kick off our best beaches of Phuket tour than the quiet beaches of Nai Harn and surrounds at the southern tip of Phuket. ‘Quiet’ is a relative term of course as one can expect plenty of beachgoers at Nai Harn in high season but nowhere near the crowds that the likes of Patong would typically experience.
Nai Harn is the biggest of the 3 (say 300m long) but still manages to maintain a sleepy village atmosphere with low key bars and simple beach restaurants serving a variety of Thai classics. Usually well sheltered from the seasonal winds that can blow in at speed from the west. You will often see yachts and sailboats moored several hundred meters off the beach taking advantage of the calm conditions.
Two superb nearby ‘micro’ beaches are well worth a mention. Ya Nui lies to the left of Nai Harn (ie towards the famous Phrom Thep cape/viewpoint. More cove than beach but great for families with younger children. Snorkeling is sometimes possible as well.
Ao Sane Beach, to the right of Nai Harn, can rightly be considered a ‘secret beach’ of Phuket. Slightly tricky to reach as you need to drive or walk The Nai Harn resort to access.
Collectively these certainly qualify as 3 of the best beaches in Phuket.
Probably the pick of the high profile beaches. Kata Beach really comprises 2 distinct locations – Kata Noi (short) and Kata Yai (long). Kata Noi’s beachfront is dominated by the upmarket Katathani Resort and one certainly gets the impression the resort ‘owns’ the beach. This, of course, is not the case and there are public access points at either end of the beach. Conditions can sometimes be rough, even in high season, so do take care. The vistas are superb, however, particularly the view to the north which is absolutely world class. In our experience, this beach is rarely crowded.
Kata Yai is much longer, wider and very accessible. Most of the Kata resorts will be located close to this beach so do expect more people. Conditions are nearly always calm and as a result one of the best swimming beaches in Phuket. A good ‘allrounder’ option for most. There are many, many restaurant and bar options just 200m inland and indeed we like to recommend Kata to those looking for an energetic location but without the craziness of Patong.
Taking into account the holiday needs of most visitors Kata would be our pick of the beachside locations in Phuket and for many, it is the best beach in Phuket.
One of the best small beaches on Phuket. It is very secluded and almost remote despite it only being minutes from the hustle and bustle of Patong. The best way to visit is via a Long Tail charter and these transfers are generally only available during high season. We understand you can also access via a dirt road but have not yet tried.
The beach is some 300m to 400m long and despite the relative inaccessibility still comes complete with a handful of bars/restaurants so really no excuse to not laze away a day. No parasails or jet skis either which makes for a very welcome change from the bigger Phuket beaches.
Kamala is the last of the ‘big’ beaches as we head north from Patong. Water and wave conditions are usually safe so again makes for a good family beach option. Following the demise of the Surin beachfront restaurants and bars in 2016, Kamala stands as one of very beaches to provide a proper ‘on-the-beach’ dining and drinking experience.
Most of the restaurant options are safe (if not terribly exciting) tourist menu orientated. We eat along this strip every month or so and are rarely disappointed. For those looking for a more upmarket option Café Del Mar is a classy beach club operating at the northern end of the beach which believe it or not is quite family friendly.
The best thing about Kamala? Given it doesn’t have the profile of Kata-Karon-Patong it can experience greater variation in tourist numbers in the off-season. This, of course, can mean a very peaceful beachside for those looking for getting away from it all. We also find it consistently offers the best beach sunset views of all the West Coast beaches.
If I chose to live at a beachside location in Phuket, Kamala would definitely be my pick.
This location is, for me, the best of the small hidden beaches in Phuket. It takes some effort to reach as it is not within walking distance to any noted resort or village locations. Banana Beach can be found north of Layan Beach on the coastal road to Nai Thon (ie heading towards the airport). If you don’t have your own wheels then perhaps combine a stop at Banana Beach as part of a day tour with a private car and driver. A 6 to 8-hour tour can be had for around 2,000 baht. It is also possible to hire a long tail from Bang Tao / Layan beach to make the journey.
Although the beach has a sheltered look wave conditions can be a bit fierce during low season and given the remoteness of the beach it is probably good advice to restrict swimming to high season. The beach is very un-spoilt and usually very quiet. There is plenty of shelter on the beach and there is a small bar/restaurant at one end.
It can be hard to believe you are in Phuket such is the serenity of Banana Beach.
I often think the best way to describe Nai Thon as the place you come to after you have ‘done’ Patong and Kata. Certainly, the beach I would stay at if returning to Phuket for a subsequent visit. Not flashy, indeed even a little comfortably ramshackle, but oh so quiet once you get out of high season.
Beachside street food and juice vendors, simple Thai restaurants, pizza, cold beers – life can be very easy at Nai Thon. The beach is typical of the medium-sized bay beaches; ~1000m in length bookended by rocky points. The water is typically calm in high season and as such is one of the best beaches in Phuket for family excursions.
Only 10 minutes from the airport (if that’s important) and whilst quite a drive from Phuket Town and Patong, most tour companies will offer a pick-up for Phi Phi Island and Phang Nga Bay tours.
My favourite medium-sized beach in Phuket.
So there you have it.
7 excellent beach locations that not only comfortably fulfill the criteria of ‘best beaches in Phuket’ but provide a mix of popular, hidden and off the beaten track. All are guaranteed to impart some memorable character and will help make your trip to Phuket one to remember.
So do enjoy your beach exploration whilst you visit this part of the world. The Phuket and Krabi areas really do have some of the most beautiful beaches you will find in Asia, and indeed the world.
Contact us to explore your boat tour options on how to visit the best beaches in Phuket on a boat!
Enjoy and be safe!