South Phuket Beaches
Nai Harn, Kata, Karon
Looking north up Phuket's west coast from the Nai Harn headland. The first bay is Kata Noi, the second Kata (Yai) and the third with the tall white building is Karon.
This southern section of Phuket, extending from Nai Harn beach (photo below) to Karon is the priciest region, with fewer but classier resorts, spacious beaches and a relaxed ambience. Furthermore the port of Chalong Bay is only minutes away on the east coast and offers ferries to the Phi Phi islands, Krabi, scuba diving tours around Phi Phi and Similan Islands, yachting and more.
If we were affluent and looking for a genteel beach scene untroubled by sleaze or longtail/motorbike noise but with access to plenty of marine activities, with fine hotels and finer sand we might well choose far south Phuket.
Fortunately even if beach access is partially blocked by one or more top-class hotels the sand is always public so if you are on a tight budget you are still permitted onto the beach even if the hotels disguise obvious access routes.
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Nai Harn beach in far south Phuket.
Far from the madding crowds of Patong, Nai Harn is very pretty, quiet,
relatively undeveloped and has superb squeaky white sand. It still
has head-banging waves early in the season and almost no shade but the hotels there have
swimming pools for bad wave days.
The reason for Nai Harn's lack of development is that Samnak Song monastery owns much of the land.
The few hotels available are mostly up-market and include the extremely expensive Le Meridien (Phuket Yacht Club) visible
in the picture above.
Behind a large public lake enjoyed by Thai locals near the beach is a small village with some modest accommodation on offer. It's just ten minutes walk from the beach but most budget travelers prefer to jump on a motorcycle get to the better options of Nai Harn town.
Kata beach is divided in two by a rocky headland. The larger beach is Kata Yai, monopolized and manicured by Club Med while Kata Noi is dominated by Kata Thani hotel, but, as mentioned before the soft powder sand and generally calm turquoise waters are free to the public, though the parasols are not.
Kata Noi beach, seen from an upscale hotel. Photo by Isa Botto.
Kata Centre, between Kata beaches and Karon is the place to find budget accommodation and cheap restaurants and bars though sadly it's gradually morphing into a seedy mini-Patong.
The last beach before grotesquely overloaded Patong is Karon, Phuket's second biggest beach, a wonderful 1.5 km (1 mile) stretch of fine white sand with plenty of space for everyone but practically no shade save for pay-parasols. Beware rip tides in the rainy season, incautious and possibly inebriated swimmers drown regularly here.
Karon embraces a range of mid-price hotels set back from the shore but is steadily sinking to the level of Patong with beer bars, sleazy nightclubs, power cables and drunk tourists strung haphazardly about.
Round the corner is Rawai beach on Phuket's southeast coast. Photo by A.Dwarf. Next, Patong Photos.
The east side has the occasional flash of decent sand, good ports for ferries or marine excursions of the sailing, fishing or scuba sort and makes an OK day trip in/on hired wheels but as far as beaches go stay on Phuket's west coast or head for another part of south Thailand such as Phi Phi Don island or Khao
Lak beach on the mainland!
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