Phuket is a world famous tourist destination and the reason for that is quite simple; its fantastic beaches and great weather. Warm, blue waters, soft, white sand and a near-perfect tropical climate combine to make Phuket beaches among the best in the world. The inviting waters of the tranquil Andaman Sea are perfect for swimming, snorkelling, diving and other water sports.
The island has plenty of beaches to choose from and, not surprisingly, the best ones are well developed and usually busy, though not packed. Choosing the right one for you is important, of course, and each has a different character, from party scene to escape and exclusivity. We’ve covered each in this section; read below to decide which suits you best.
Exploring Phuket Beaches
Not everyone gets to stay right near the beach in Phuket; in fact, the commercial districts with restaurants and bars and shops dominate the beach roads and blocks behind in several areas. As the land rises behind, you get some excellent views from some hotels and can be at the beach in a few minutes by tuk-tuk or scooter.
It’s just as easy to rent a bike and go looking for a small, secluded beach tucked away somewhere on the island. Most of the swimmable beaches are found on the west-facing side of Phuket island. A few exclusive resorts enjoy the privacy of their own small beaches in between the larger bays, or on the east side of the island.
Each of the commercial beaches on Phuket cater well to all public visitors, with sun loungers and umbrellas for rent and vendors strolling the beach selling fruit, snacks and ice cream. Most Phuket beaches have a number of restaurants and stalls offering food and drink either on the beach itself or within a 100m or so. Beachfront massage stands are also common.
If you’re here for the party, then it’s best to stay in Patong where most of the night action is. Karon, Kata and Kamala have smaller night scenes, although all come with the ubiquitous girlie bars. The main thing to consider is having to negotiate hilly headlands between bays on a rental scooter – when you’re not totally sober, it can be deadly.
Those who prefer a hotel near the beach, and where you can walk everywhere without too much chaos, should consider Kamala or Bang Tao, which are quieter and have plenty of accommodation near the beach. Several privileged hotels enjoy exclusive positioning right on Kata Beach (separated only by a lane), while those on Kata Noi are even more exclusive.
If you’re on a budget, you’ll have to settle for one of the many hotels set a few hundred metres back from the beach. You can, though, get something near the water for less than US$50 a night if you settle for Rawai or Nai Harn, but they are somewhat downmarket and out of the way.