Few holiday destinations can match the exquisite splendor of Phuket’s idyllic coastline. In fact, the sheer abundance of charming beaches earned Phuket its moniker, ‘Gem of the Andaman’. The majority of the island’s most popular seaside spots are peppered along the west coast, which means they all offer fabulous sunset views. From the bustling shores of Patong to the laid back ambience of Nai Yaing beach, when it comes to stunning stretches of sand, Phuket has it all.
West Coast Beaches
Situated a short five-minute hop from Phuket International Airport, this prime coastal spot is particularly popular with the locals. As such, it’s a great destination for visitors in search of an authentic Thai experience. Visitors can picnic under the gently swaying palm trees, and there are street vendors scattered around the area for those in search of a snack or souvenirs.
This sublime stretch of shoreline remains tranquil and relatively underdeveloped in comparison to other beaches on the island. As a result, it’s one of the most family-friendly destinations and is ideal for those seeking a quiet spot to get away from it all and relax with a quiet swim. The approach road to the beach offers a pleasant drive for those who want to relish the local scenery, as it winds through some of the island’s abundant tropical jungle.
This pristine spread of sand provides a blissful retreat from the island’s busier beaches. Relatively secluded, it’s something of a hidden gem nestled between Bang Tao and Nai Thon beaches and offers crystal clear waters and powder soft sand. At high tide, the waves sometimes lap quite far up the beach so it’s best for visitors to park themselves at either the northern of southern end if they want to stay dry.
One of Phuket’s most popular coastal retreats, Bang Tao beach, provides an added draw for the wealth of high-end resorts that now surround the traditional fishing community of Cherng Talay. While the Laguna Phuket resort complex occupies a large proportion of the middle of the beach, the northern end has been left relatively untouched by development. A wide selection of bars and restaurants also make Bang Tao the ideal location for those looking for a nice place to eat after a day at the beach.
Surin Beach is a hit with many visitors exploring the island, because it still retains a modest coastal village vibe unlike some of Phuket’s other more developed beaches. Soft sand and swimmable waters for most fo the year make this a top destination for those in search of a serene setting to soak up the tropical atmosphere. The area behind Surin beach is also home to to the high-end restaurants and luxury accommodation choices.
Also situated on Phuket’s west coast is Freedom Beach, a popular beach destination for active travellers who want to try out beach soccer, volleyball or snorkelling. The shallow water at both ends of the beach also makes it a top choice for families that want to go swimming with little ones. No jet skis are allowed in the waters of this pleasant strip of Phuket coastline, so all visitors can expect to hear is the gentle hum of local longtail boats.
Located just north of Patong is Kamala Beach, which is backed by towering forested hills and also home to many private villas, hotels and a large local fishing community. Kamala beach is an attractive coastal destination for visitors in the mood for a lazy afternoon of sunbathing away from the crowds of Patong, and it has become a prized destination amongst couples in search of a peaceful place to relax by the waves.
Patong is Phuket’s tourism epicentre, so its no surprise that the beach is also the busiest on the island. The town itself boasts a vibrant nightlife, and is packed with hundreds of pubs, bars and clubs, most of which centre around Bangla Road. Stretching for 3km along Phuket’s stunning shoreline, Patong Beach itself is once of the best places in Phuket to try out adrenaline-pumping watersports such as jet skiing and windsurfing. A selection of open air beach-side restaurants and bars are also scattered along the beach for those in search of some outdoor dining and drinking.
Karon, Phuket’s third-longest beach, is sandwiched between Patong to the north and Kata beach to the south. Following Patong, Karon is probably Phuket’s most popular tourist area, so it can get quite busy – particularly during peak season. The southern end offers a fantastic spot for snorkeling, but the majority of facilities are focused around the centre of the beach, where there are shops, restaurants and a Buddhist temple that hosts its own weekly market.
Kata Yai & Kata Noi
Visitors travelling south of Karon Beach will stumble upon the blissful bay of Kata, which entices many visitors with the soft sand and jade ocean that have become synonymous with Phuket. The main beach is home to plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops and fashion boutiques, although it still nurtures a more laid-back, family friendly atmosphere than other beaches like Patong. A short drive over the hill leads to the more modest pleasant sandy stretch that is Kata Noi. The fabulous scenery here attracts plenty of snap happy visitors, particularly at sunset.
Only a few hotels are close to the sandy expanse of Nai Harn Beach, which means that it offers a tranquil ambience and plenty of quiet areas for relaxation. Thick emerald jungle envelopes both ends of the beach, giving it a sheltered, protected feel. The water is ideal for visitors that want to swim in the ocean, however, rip tides are common during the green season so visitors should be cautious from June to October. This heavenly pocket of the island is popular with locals and travellers alike.
East Coast Beaches
On the south eastern edge of the island lies Chalong Bay, which is a hive of boating activity. Many sailing excursions and scuba diving trips set sail from the beaches of Chalong, so it tends to get very busy in the early morning and late afternoon. The Ao Chalong Yacht Club is one of the bay’s most sought-after destinations thanks to the popular events and boat races it puts on. There are also plenty of restaurants, shops and tourist services throughout the area.
Tucked away behind the more visited attraction of Phuket Town, Cape Panwa is an idyllic protected cove with intermittent stretches of sandy beach and some fo the most stunning tropical seascapes in the Andaman Region. A handful of resorts are located in the area, which is also popular with day trippers in search of a peaceful beachside experience.
This pleasant peninsula reaches out from the east coast of Phuket in the direction of the mainland. Nestled within the quiet district of Pa Klok, the area lays claim to a handful of lavish resort and villa developments – many of which boast panoramic views of the islet peppered ocean. The seafood restaurants in the vicinity are second to none, and a stroll along the Kluay Islet at low tide promises unrivalled coastal views.
Even though this serene stretch of beach is actually situated on the Thai mainland as opposed to Phuket island itself, the beach is closer to Phuket airport than Patong – Phuket’s most popular beach resort. Thanks to its position somewhat off the beaten track, Natai boasts a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere that’s ideal for families and couples. It is also something of a luxury enclave with some of the region’s most spectacular holiday villas located right next to the sand. Nearby attractions include waterfalls, hot springs and stunning national park.
Updates by Wayne Hue