Phuket Beaches, Thailand

north phuket beaches panorama, thailand

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. Photo by ADwarf.

South Phuket Beaches: Nai Harn, Kata, 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.

Nai Harn beach

nai harn beach, phuket, thailand

Nai Harn beach in far south Phuket. Photo by ADwarf.

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 beaches

Kata Yai beach, Phuket, Thailand

Kata Yai beach. Photo by Edwin11.

Kata 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 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.

Karon beach

Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand

Karon beach. Photo by Gossipguy.

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 sandwith 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.

Rawai beach, Phuket, Thailand

Round the corner is unattractive Rawai beach on Phuket’s southeast coast.

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!

North Phuket Beaches: Kamala, Nai Thon, Mai Khao

Kamala beach

Kamala beach, north Phuket, Thailand

Kamala beach. Photo by Gossipguy.

A big, not unattractive bay with fine sand and less waves than most Phuket beaches, Kamala is north of Patong but not as remote as the beaches further north. It has a scattering of cafés and mid-range resort hotels.

The main low-end accommodation is at the scruffy south end of the beach in Thanon Rim Had village where locals pay more attention to property feuding than keeping the place clean. There’s a good selection of restaurants, however, a stray couple of ‘bar-beers’ and aircon rooms for a reasonable price if you negotiate.

Laem Sing beach

Laem Sing beach, Phuket, Thailand.

Laem Sing beach, small but pretty, quiet and still in Phuket. It’s around the headland 20 minutes  north of Patong, between Kamala and Surin beaches. Photo by Tuderna.

Nai Thon beach

Nai Thon beach beds, north Phuket, Thailand

Nai Thon from ground level, small, soft sand, facilities over the road behind the beach.

Nai Thon accommodation, north Phuket, Thailand

Nai Thon main road with low-key restaurants and hotels.

Mai Khao beach

Mai Khao beach chair north Phuket, Thailand

Mai Khao beach looking south towards the main action.

Mai Khao’s 11 kms of slightly coarse yellow sand in December. The sea is Phuket’s roughest in/near the rainy season.