Patong Beach, known for being somewhat of a tourist trap, is an excellent choice of beach for visitors who seek lots of activity. Located in the southwest and shaped like a crescent, Patong’s golden sands and gentle slope make for an excellent bathing beach; after a swim, guests can relax on one of the multitude of sun loungers here that rent for about 100 Baht each. Activities abound on Patong Beach; from banana boats to jet skis to parasailing, adventure-seekers will keep busy for hours. Beach vendors and nearby restaurants and bars provide food, drink, and souvenirs; Patong Beach is located right on Thanon Taweewpmg, so it’s very difficult to miss.
Kata Beach, also known as Kata Yai Beach, is located in the southwest corner of Phuket just south of Karon Beach. Less busy than Patong Beach, Kata Beach is still relatively active, with surfboards, banana boats, parasailing, jet skis, and sun loungers for rent. Kata Beach features Boo Island, a small island, about 400 meters from the beach’s north end. Coral reefs just off the beach and the island offer excellent snorkeling opportunities. To reach Kata Beach, take Karon Beach Road south to the end and turn right; there are plenty of signs to guide the way.
Karon Beach, located in between Patong Beach and Kata Beach, is very near to Karon, the island’s second largest town. Karon Beach is a relatively busy beach but is usually less so than Patong Beach; parasailing, banana boats, jet skis, and sun loungers are all available here for a price. Karon Beach’s powdery sand slopes gently through small dunes to the water’s edge; bathing is generally good here except for during the rainy season when dangerous currents make swimming inadvisable. Karon Beach is located just to the west of Karon and is well signposted.
Kata Noi Beach, popular with surfers and located just to the south of Kata Beach, is less developed and a bit smaller than Kata Beach. Sun loungers are available for rent here, and the beach is also known for good snorkeling in and around the south end of the beach. Mom’s Tri Kitchen, a highly-rated restaurant offering beach views, is located at the entrance to Kata Noi Beach. To reach this beach, from the south part of Kata, make a right turn to go up the hill; this road dead ends at Kata Noi Beach.
Nai Harn Beach, located on the western shore of Phuket and almost at the southern tip of the island, is considered by many to be Phuket’s most beautiful beach. A wooded area gives way to soft golden sands which slope gently to the water; a saltwater lagoon near the beach’s southern end fills and empties with the tides. This lagoon is warmed by the sun’s rays and provides an excellent play area for smaller children. Rental sun loungers are available here, but otherwise this beach is quiet. To reach Nai Hairn Beach, follow the road signs from Laem Promthep.
Nai Thon Beach, with its signature squeaky sands, lies in the northwestern part of Phuket. The golden sand, which squeaks under the feet, slopes to clear waters that provide excellent swimming. Snorkeling is another popular pastime at this beach, but there is little in the way of watersport rentals here. Sun loungers are available for rent only during the high season. Nai Thon Beach can be reached from Bang Tao on the coast road; three kilometers past the entrance to Laguna, make a left turn to reach this beach.
Laem Sing Beach, traditionally known as a hidden-away gem frequented only by local residents, has become more popular with visitors as the word of its beauty has spread. Located to the northwest, Laem Sing offers good swimming, rental sun loungers, jet skis, and banana boats. Some of the best snorkeling on Phuket can be found here amongst the coral reefs and rock formations. This beach is not easy to reach; park in the designated area between Kamala and Surin on the coast road, then be prepared to hike down to reach Laem Sing Beach.
Kamala Beach, also located in the northwestern portion of Phuket, offers a wide swath of sand that rings a scenic bay. Sun loungers are available for rental, and the swimming here is generally excellent. During the rainy season, however, a dangerous undertow makes Kamala Beach treacherous for swimmers. As one of Phuket’s largest beaches, the road to Kamala is well marked. From Patong, take the coast road heading north to the big hill; turn left at the hill’s bottom to reach Kamala Beach.
Bang Tao Beach, an eight-kilometer reach of golden sand to the northwest, is close to a number of lagoons and several upscale resorts. Sun loungers can be rented here as well as jet skis and windsurfing boards. Swimming is best at Bang Tao Beach when the tide is out; high tide finds the slope to the water’s edge to be a bit steep. To reach Bang Tao Beach, proceed north from Surin and follow the signs to Laguna. Parking areas at the north and south ends both provide easy beach access.
Mai Khao Beach, the longest beach in Phuket, stretches between Nai Yang Beach and Sai Kaew Beach. Located on the northwestern end of the island, Mai Khao Beach is a part of Sirinath National Park, but most portions are free to access. The exception is the southernmost part of this beach near Nai Yang Beach; the entrance fee here is 100 Baht for foreigners and 20 Baht for locals. With little development nearby, Mai Khao offers an attractive golden-sand-covered beach setting with relative peace and quiet. Sea turtles lay their eggs here between November and February, but as of late, their population has declined. Visitors gain easy access to Mai Khao Beach by turning right into the Sirinath National Park at Nai Yang.