Phuket has some of the best beaches in the world, and this is one of the main reasons for why it has become such a popular tourist destination – of course the local culture and climate is great too. The most popular and nicest places to relax in the sun are to be found on the west of the island, and this is where all the main resorts are located. There are 35 beaches on the island of Phuket to choose from – a useful map of these beaches has been created by Phuket 101. Some of these locations are difficult to visit because they are attached to a resort. There are no legally private beaches on the island, but the fact that resorts will often block access to these areas means that they are private for practical purposes.
Beaches in Phuket
Starting from the north, the beaches of Phuket are:
- Haad Pak Phra is the first beach that people can visit when they come to the island over the Sarasin Bridge. This is a tiny beach, but it may be worth stopping here to admire the view.
- Haad Sai Kaew is a lovely long beach that has a nice laid back feel to it. The fact that it is so far away from the main tourist areas means that it never gets crowded, and for that reason it is one of the hidden gems on the island.
- Mai Kaew is the longest beach on the island, but there is still only a sprinkling of resorts here. The beach is fairly narrow for most of the length of Mai Kaew.
- Nai Yang Beach is popular with Thai holidaymakers as well as foreign visitors. This beach can get crowded at times, but there is always plenty going on here.
- Naithon Beach is another lovely beach that has not yet been taken over by resorts. The sea here is very inviting here.
- Banana Beach is sometimes referred to as the hidden beach, and those tourists who have been lucky enough to stumble upon it want it kept hidden because it is a real gem.
- Naithon Noi Beach is for all practical purposes a private beach because it is necessary to go through Andaman White Beach Resort in order to get to it.
- Trisara Beach is small, and it is only possible to swim here when the tide is high. The only way to get to this beach is through Trisara Luxury Resort.
- Layan Beach is another tiny beach, and there is not much going on here.
- Bangtao Beach offers 4 miles(6km)of sandy beach and many of the high end resorts are located in this part of Phuket. There are a few restaurants and bars spread along the beach, but it still manages to feel far from the madding crowd.
- Pansea Beach is another beach that is practically private because only people who are staying in the luxury resorts surrounding it can gain access.
- Surin Beach has become popular in recent years, and there are new resorts appearing all the time. It is a good option for people who want good facilities as well as a nice beach – there are some good bars and restaurants here.
- Laem Singh is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, but it is small and tends to get overcrowded during the high season and bank holidays.
- Kamala Beach can also get busy during the high season, but it is always possible to find a quiet space on the beach. There are some good bars and restaurants in the Kamala area.
- Rayee Beach is a secluded area that is at the southern end of Kamala. It is very rocky here when the tide goes out.
- Hua Beach is one of the hidden beaches on Phuket. It can take a bit of effort to find it, but if people are looking for a bit of privacy it might be worth visiting.
- Yae Beach is another one that is hard to get to get to. It is a small strip of sand and not very remarkable.
- Thavorn Beach is a secluded beach that is used by people staying at Thavorn Beach Village Resort – this is another beach that is technically not private but that for practical purposes it is treated that way.
- Kalim Beach is a beautiful area, and there are some nice restaurants here. This is also a popular place for people who want to go surfing.
- Patong is the busiest of all Phuket beaches.
- Tri Tra Beach is located behind Merlin Beach Resort.
- Paradise Beach is an attractive secluded beach but the word paradise might be a bit of an overstatement – it is also a bit on the tiny side at just over a hundred meters.
- Tri Trang Beach is nice for sunbathing but it is a bit rocky.
- Freedom Beach is one of the best beaches on the island and one of the things that makes it so special is that it is only possible to get here by boat or by following a challenging path through the jungle. Nude sunbathing is acceptable here, and this seems to be a reason for why many choose the privacy of this area.
- Relax Beach is used by guests staying at Le Meridien Beach Resort.
- Karon is often referred to as Patong’s little sister because it is the second busiest beach area on the island.
- Kata is another very popular area, but the beach here is beautiful with white sand and inviting water.
- Kata Noi is around the headland, and it is just as beautiful as Kata, but it is much quieter..
- Ao Sane is considered to be another of the hidden gem beaches on Phuket because it is so hard to get to. This is a great option for people who want to do some snorkeling.
- Nai Harn is a bit like an exclusive club where the knowledgeable expats hang out. Most tourists are not even aware that this beach exists, and there are many who would prefer to keep it that way.
- Ya Noi is a tiny strip of sand near to Promthep Cape at the very bottom of Phuket.
- Rawai Beach is a popular destination with tourists, but it is not such a great place for swimming. The area is beautiful, and there are always plenty of small boats coming and going in the water.
- Laem Ka is hard to find, but it is the nicest beach in this part of the island.
- Friendship Beach has a few resorts and restaurants. Most people will come here to eat tasty seafood rather than anything else.
- Pawna is probably the most beautiful beach on the eastern side of the island. It is a good option as somewhere to go and relax while admiring the view, but it is not such a good option for people who want to go swimming.
- Ao Yon is close to Pawna and it offers a similar experience.
Best Beach in Phuket
It would be incredibly difficult to choose just one beach on the island and say that this is the best one. The problem is that what people will consider to be the best will very much depend on what they are looking for. For example, if people enjoy plenty of excitement their choice for best beach would like be Patong, but those tourists who prefer relaxation might believe that this is the worst beach on the island. The most popular beaches on the island would include:
This is the main tourist beach on the island, and this is also where the best nightlife is to be found. The beach itself is beautiful – especially in the evenings and early mornings when it is not too busy. The vendors here can sometimes be a bit pushy, but on the plus side there are plenty of beach activities to enjoy.
This is the second busiest beach on the island, and there are also plenty of bars and restaurants here. The swimming conditions are usually excellent, and there are less vendors than Patong.
There are actually two beaches to choose from here: Kata Yai and Kata Noi. The main beach offers a long stretch of sand, and it is a nice place to go swimming or snorkeling. Kata Noi is a good option if people are looking to get away from the crowds.
It can get busy here during the high season, but the beach is long enough that it is always possible to find a secluded spot. There are good amenities nearby, and this is also where Phuket Fantasea is located.
Best Beaches for Snorkeling
The best snorkeling opportunities on the island are to be found at:
- Ao Sane is part of the rocky outcrop at the southern end of the island. There is plenty of marine life to be found around the rocks close to the shore.
- Koh Phu (Crab Island) is just 400 meters away from Kata Beach, and it is possible to swim to here. There are plenty of interesting things to see in the waters around the island.
- Freedom Beach offers the best snorkeling near to Patong. The best way to get here is by long tail boat from Patong Beach.
- There are plenty of rocks in the water off Laem Singh, so this can be another good option for people who want to go snorkeling.
Best Beaches for People Watching
The best beaches for people watching would include:
- Visitors who like crowds will definitely enjoy Patong Beach. There is always plenty going on here, and it is like and endless parade of humanity.
- Karon Beach is another great spot for people watching.
- Laem Singh tends to attract a nice crowd of Thais as well as foreign visitors – especially at the weekends and at holidays.
Best Beaches for Relaxation
The best places to go for relaxation would include:
- Haad Sai Kaew
- Mai Kaew
- Naithon Beach
- Layan Beach
- Paradise Beach
- Kata Noi
- Nai Harn
Best Beaches for Surfing
If visitors are looking to go surfing they can go to:
- Patong Beach is a good option for beginner surfers, and it is possible to get lessons here as well.
- Kalim Beach offers the best surfing in the whole of the island, and this is the most popular place to go for this activity.
- There are usually some nice waves at Kata Beach.
- There are surfing opportunities at either end of Surin Beach.
Best Beaches for Swimming
Good options for people who want to swimming would have to include:
- Karon Beach is one of the best options for people who are looking to go for a swim – the water here is clean and inviting.
- Kata Beach is next to Karon and offers similar swimming opportunities.
- The swimming conditions at Patong are good, but it can get a bit crowded here.
- Nai Harn offers good swimming and it is nice and quiet here most of the time as well.
It is important to keep in mind that the swimming conditions in Phuket will deteriorate during the rainy season.
Secret Beaches in Phuket
The beaches that would be considered hidden gems on the island would include:
- Haad Sai Kaew
- Banana Beach
- Hua Beach
- Ao Sane
- Pawna Beach