Thailand’s largest island is home to over 30 beaches that draw sun-seekers from around the world to enjoy the white sands and gently lapping blue waters. But which are considered the best beaches in Phuket?
Given that locals know best, we spoke to Matthew Hindmarch, a long-time resident of Phuket. Matthew is a well-respected figure in the Thai hospitality industry and represents The Aksara Collection of hotels. We asked Matthew to name his five favourite Phuket beaches and these are the ones he highlighted (shown here in no particular order).
The Thai word for beach is ‘haad’ which you may also see written as ‘hat’ or ‘had.’
No visit to Phuket would be complete without time in Patong, the island’s most famous beach resort. With its wide variety of activities and lively nightlife, it has an established reputation as the best place to party and there are hundreds of restaurants, bars and nightclubs to enjoy, especially along Banga Road. Just minutes away the golden Patong beach is ideal for sunbathing, jet skiing, kayaking and parasailing. At around four kilometres long, it is often crowded in the middle part and you’d be ambitious to think you’ll find parking, even for a bike. But the northern part of the beach is often much less populated. Lovers of leisure can spend the day relaxing on a sunbed or enjoying a cocktail or foot massage from one of the vendors who regularly stroll along the sands.
Kata and Karon Beaches
A popular alternative to Patong Beach, these quieter and less crowded beaches offer a more serene alternative. Karon Beach (Haad Karon) is the longest beach on Phuket island and is recognised for its beautiful fine sand and peaceful atmosphere. Kata Beach is a friendly bay just a few minutes south of Karon Beach and ideal for families with children. An all-round favourite due to its palm-lined shoreline, great restaurants, lively nightlife and traditional beach resorts. From May to October surfers flock to Kata to catch the waves and from November to April the beach comes to life with sunbathers. Kata Beach is split into two focal areas: Kata Centre at the northern end close to Karon, and Kata South. Give both a try.
Mai Khao Beach
Situated north of Sirinat National Park headquarters on the north-west coast of Phuket near the Phuket Airport, the island’s longest stretch of beach at 11km is still blissfully undeveloped with only a couple of hotels to be seen. The sand of Mai Khao Beach is possibly the roughest of any in Phuket but given that it is mostly deserted this is where you come to walk for hours without seeing a single soul. It is important to note that a sharp drop-off into the Andaman Sea makes swimming between May to November dangerous here. Known for its turtle preservation projects, there is a Turtle Releasing Festival here every Songkran (Traditional Thai New Year) in April.
Nai Thon Beach
Fortunately, this beautiful stretch of sand has been overlooked by most resort developers, making Nai Thon Beach an ideal spot to enjoy a quiet swim away from the masses. The scenic drive there is on a narrow road that takes you through some of the island’s last remaining virgin jungle and when approaching from the north you pass through a Thai village and lush green valley that will delight you even before you reach the beach. Perfect for recreation and swimming, the long bay is encircled by high hills and shaded tropical plants. Activities include exploring the rocky coves (only accessible by long-tail boat) and scuba diving, which can be arranged at the dive shop on Beach Road.
Laem Singh Beach
Tucked away on the west coast of the island, Laem Singh Beach is one of Phuket’s most beautiful and can be found between Kamala and Surin beaches. Located in a bay lined with palm trees and strewn with giant boulders, it has the feeling of a secret beach yet to be discovered. The northern part is excellent for body boarding, while the swimming and snorkelling is better in the southern part of the beach, with loads of marine life to be seen around the rocky headland that separates the beach from Kamala Bay. It can be a bit tricky to reach but making the effort richly rewards.
Phuket’s high tourist season is from November to February when it’s warm and dry, after which it remains hot until May. Rainy season usually begins mid-May and goes on until October, although even then Phuket’s beaches can still be enjoyed.
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