Kata Beach is located just south of Karon Beach and is a popular Phuket vacation spot for families. Most activities take place around Kata Yai, a long beach with plentiful sun loungers and beach vendors to cater for the crowds.
By day, relaxation and water sports are the main drawcards on the white sands of Kata Beach and little sister Kata Noi; a fine alternative to the south.
Unlike Karon Beach, where most resorts are separated from the sand by a road, there are many beachfront resorts and hotels in Kata, albeit pretty expensive. They include Kata Beach Resort, The Boathouse Phuket, and Club Med, while Kata Thani Beach Resort is the main accommodation option there.
Modest guesthouses can also be discovered just a few minutes walk from the beach, while much of the land behind Kata is taken up by one large resort. This is somewhat of a blessing as they kept development low-key and much of it is given over to large gardens. A quiet, shady road runs immediately behind the beach, while the main road is further back. At night, visitors are content with dining, shopping and visiting a few nightspots. Kata village is an international affair with restaurants offering food from around the world, including Italian, French, Scandinavian, plus steakhouses and standard Thai eateries.
A popular family spot is Dino Park, with Jurassic-themed dining and mini-golf course set among roaring beasts and a billowing volcano. Nightlife is focused around Kata Centre, at the north end. It is mostly low-key, ranging from small bars to the famed Easy Rider Club, which has decent live bands in the tourist season – November-March.
A popular nightspot for sailors and visitors is the Ska Bar on the beachfront, tucked into the headland at the southern end of Kata Beach. With a reggae flavour and regular bands, the bar is a funky place after dark.
During the first week of December, Kata Bay fills with yachts from all over, arriving to compete in Asia’s premier sailing event, the annual King’s Cup Regatta. This week-long yachting festival adds excitement to the area with daily races and parties until the small hours. The final party is held at Kata Beach Resort.
There is a second section to Kata, over a small ridge, known as Kata Noi. This is a more exclusive, smaller and more expensive beach to stay on. The middle section of the beach is fronted by empty land which forms a nice public space shaded by coconut groves.
The area behind this is limited, making Kata Noi an exclusive domain of posh hotels, with little room for the rampant commercialism of girlie bars, internet cafes and souvenir shops. It is a nice place to spend a day away from the crowds of the bigger beaches. You can even take a long-tail boat to Nui Beach, a real getaway from the crowds.
Staying on Kata Noi means an exclusive experience confined to your resort, yet the rest of Kata is a few minutes’ ride away. The development here has been sensible, with plenty of open areas despite limited space between the beach and steep hill behind.