There are a few things that Phuket does better than almost any other place in Thailand. Secluded beaches (combined with spectacular scenery) is one of the region’s many talents. And boy does it deliver in this category…
48km long and 25km wide, Phuket offers a wealth of stunning coastline to explore (with the help of a trusty moped that is). So, check your rear view mirrors and set off with us on a journey to discover some of the best beaches (and worst-kept secrets) that Thailand’s largest island has to offer.
Patong may have a (arguably well deserved) reputation for its nightlife, but the the sheer variety of activities available to daytime visitors that mark this out as a beach to include within your itinerary whilst the sun’s still up.
Whilst the 3km of sandy beaches are undoubtedly the main attractions (get the full Patong experience by staying in a guesthouse/resort that overlooks the bay), there’s also a host of outdoor activities to keep kids (and energetic adults) entertained.
Fly through the jungle that surrounds Patong Bay with the Hanuman Ziplining Experience, and try out zorbing and go-karting for a unique view of the Phuket jungle. Finish off with a tour of the town’s extensive list of bars and clubs for maximum effectiveness.
Located on the west coast island of Phuket near Bangtao Bay, Layan Beach is a calm and tranquil paradise thanks to the presence of Koh Kala towards the northern end of the beach. The island, which you can also explore by boat or sea kayak, shields the beach from choppy waters – making this the perfect place to switch off, relax and listen to the waves gently lap against the coastline.
As such, the surrounding amenities are similarly relaxed, with little development to distract you from the beach’s stunning natural beauty save for a restaurant and the family-friendly Dream Beach Club.
When Patong can feels like a sensory overload and Layan can feel a little too laid-back, Karon Beach is the place to go. As the second longest beach in Phuket, it enjoys the amenities of a large beach town (with all the restaurants and bars you’d expect) without the crowds of its noisy neighbours.
Karon is divided into three main areas: Karon Center, the Lake and the Beachfront Road. A cluster of luxury hotels offer an upscale take on the Phuket experience (check out El Gaucho at the Movenpick Resort to see what we mean), but there’s plenty of choice if you’re looking to stay near Karon Beach on a budget.
The beachfront also hosts a range of restaurants (top pick: On The Rocks for stunning views, Two Chefs/Karon Café for comfort food the morning after the night before) and a few casual drinking holes. Open Tuesday and Friday evening, the Karon Temple Market is also a hit with visitors for its extensive array of local dishes and street food.
Nai Thon Beach is another secluded west coast location that’s thankfully been overlooked by big resort developers. And, perhaps that’s a good thing - the southern approach to the beach leads through some of Phuket’s last remaining virgin jungle and winds along a coastline that’d give the Cote D’Azur a run for its money in the beauty stakes.
Hire a longtail boat for a chance to visit inaccessible rocky coves and arrange a scuba trip with the diving school by Beach Road for a chance to see Nai Thon’s underwater inhabitants first-hand.
Sandwiched between grassy hills and jungle covered mountains, Nai Harn Beach boasts crystal clear waters and a great location nestled to the south of the island.
The 5 star Nai Harn resort (and accompanying bars/restaurants) dominates the skyline, but the neighbouring area is also home to the island’s expat residents, lending the beach a multi-cultural feel.
Exceptional visibility make this a favourite location for snorkelers and scuba divers too. Be careful of heading into water during monsoon season though – a strong current and undertow can make conditions on Nai Harn treacherous.
Pan Wa (also known as Khao Kat) beach is another spot to consider if the crowded west coast beaches are losing their charm. Beautiful resorts and luxury villas dot the surrounding coastline, and there's also a promenade that's home to a few restaurants and the all-essential Beach Bar.
Overall, the atmosphere is relaxed. Without the right conditions for swimming, there’s way less crowding than you’d expect – and the opportunity to witness some stunning 360 degree views at the nearby Panwa Viewpoint.