Island beaches, Phuket
Phuket is one big party and resort island and since the main attraction here is the beaches in and around phuket and the islands of the Andaman Sea and Phang Nga Bay, there are many water and beach related activities that you can to like para sailing, snorkelling, jet ski rentals, banana boat rentals, Long Tail Boat Rentals, having a henna tattoo, at the beach and even drink brewskies at the beach.
Fondest memory: you can have as many beach activities as you like, provided that you will be willing to spend a lot of dough like 1,500 baht for a 30 minute jet ski ride or 1,000 baht for a 15 minute para sailing experience and more.
The Phuket Beaches are littered with many Beach Beds and in some areas, they are up to 2 to 3 fold in rows like in patong beach. these Beach beds are made of monobloc plastic and are covered with water proof beddings and with small platic tables and umbrellas provided. these are not free! they are for rent and when you pick a spot you like with empty beach beds, the owners will then approach you and charge you 100 baht per person for the use of the beach beds and umbrella, which is good for one day (if you plan to stay for 1 day at the beach), irregardless of the time you spent at the beach.
Fondest memory: many beach beds for rent along the many beaches in Phuket
Almost all of the good beaches of thailand is located at the Andaman Sea and only Ko Samui is located at the gulf of thailand (pattaya and hua hin are not among the best beaches of thailand). Phuket Province, Phang Nga Province and Krabi Province has many islands and island groups that are favorites of tourists like the similan island group of Phuket Province for snorkelling, the James Bond Island and Khai Islands of Pha Nga Province and the Phi Phi Island Group, Koh Lanta Group, Railay beach. chicken island, coral island and more of Krabi Province.
If you have big bucks then hire a chartered speed boat for a whole day or two that seats up to ten people and the cost is between 35,000 to 60,00- baht a day (not per person but for the boat. so it means that if you are 10 people in your group, it will only cost 3,500 to 6,000 baht per person) and you can visit as many islands as you want for a total of about 80,000 to 90,000 baht for two days.
but if you want a cheaper option, then just book a big speed boat tour (that sits 35 persons crammed in the speedboat) of the assorted islands and they cost from 3,000 to 5,000 baht per person, depending on the route and the number of islands but it includes park entrances, free drinks and snorkelling equipment and buffet lunch, unlike the private speed boats where you haver to pay lunch and the park entrances. the choices are the ff: similan tour, phang nga bay and james bond island tour, krabi islands tour, phi phi islands tour with khai island, khai islands tour with coral island, koh lanta islands tour and more. you can book them at your hotel as they have contact numbers of the many travel agencies around phuket or book them at the many travel agency branches and stalls lining the patong area and even at the kata and karon areas.
Fondest memory: assorted speed boats tours that you can book to go to the assorted islands.
Hi live in Phuket and can appreciate your feeling. Patong is a massive tourist trap, with higher prices, busy, dirty, and not the most spectacular beach. Great for a night out or for a group of young travellers but not the best beach location. If you go north of Patong you get some nice beaches like "Bang Tao"
Anywhere around the airport (north of the island) tends to be only resorts, and not much else. as such you can get some nice quiet beaches and very rural feelings, but on the other hand it can feel quiet and isolated.
if you go south of patong there are two very popular area's, "Rawai/Nai Harn" and "Kata" These 2 beaches are arguably the most beautiful on the island. Kata is more developed than "Rawai/Nai Harn" and has a more touristy feel to it. Rawai.... where I live is very popular with expats who wish to enjoy all the Phuket has to offer yet still feel like they're living in Thailand and not in a resort.... You can find good accommodation tips on http://www.tripadvisor.com
I hope this helps
Have a great Holiday
Fondest memory: Diving the "King Crusier" or Paragliding over Nai Harn Beach
One of the best and quietest beaches in Phuket is the Surin beach about 10 km's south of Patong.
If you have a motorbike like we did you will find it a fantastic ride along the coast to get there too.
Along the way you will get some amazing views over the headlands and mountains back towards the Patong beach and town as well as the beautiful Kamala beach too.
Surin beach has restaurants along the beach tent style or you can just raise one finger from your deck chairs and someone will come running with a cold beer and a menu with the most delicious seafood or Thai style dishes.
Fondest memory: In January 2004 I met an older American ex-pat guy there who obviously owns the bar and restaurant there on the beach.
He was very helpful and friendly and I told him I remembered him from 3 years ago.
He told me that he lived there now and told me the horrors of the Tsunami and how it had affected the island in December 2004.
On Surin beach no-one was killed and it recovered faster than all of the others at the time.
I really enjoyed my beers there and my chat with this old guy with the gentle soul and quiet voice.
Relaxing and swimming at this beach was very refreshing and in particular chatting to this old guy was probably my highlight on this this trip to Phuket
Anytime you see the para sailing rides from the beach, watch out......they generally dont have a blocked off area, they simply pick a spot on the beach and go for it. Not so much when they take off - but returning can be interesting, and if your not watching your step you could be flat on your back. Simply put, when the chute comes in after the trip the thais are running all over the place to try and catch them....if your walking along not paying attantion you might get taken off at the neck......if your looking to relax and sunbathe....stay clear from the section of the beach being used for this activity. On another note....it is quite comical to watch for a bit.
Oh, cost.....the guest would be in the air for about 10 minutes (give or take).....I think it was around $20 Canadian.....maybe a little more - 1000baht.
Fondest memory: We did have fun watching the landings!
All of the beaches on the western side of Phuket Island are rich with natural beauty - crystal blue waters that are warm enough for anyone to enjoy swimming - and blanketed with nice, soft, very light colored sand. Swimming and diving are unavailable during some months due to the seasonal presence of strong ocean currents near the beach. Day trips to several world-class diving destinations are a popular diversion from the main island.
Patong is what I would call a “city beach”, perhaps comparable with Daytona Beach, FL. A wide array of restaurants, shops, and high-energy beach activities make it perfect for young adults and singles. It’s a bit noisy, and the rather shallow beach is crowded, so perhaps its less fitting for families or couples looking for quietness and seclusion. Also - no hotels in Patong have direct, exclusive access to the beach. For them I recommend a short drive down the road to Kata or Kata Noi.
Kata Noi Beach
Kata Noi is a nicely secluded bay with a nice deep beach that is just under 1km long. Kata Noi is an excellent choice for families and couples looking for a quiet, secluded place to relax. There aren’t many options actually in Kata Noi. The Katathani resort includes pretty much all of the hotels and restaurants (one noteworthy and delicious exception is “Mom Tri’s Villa Royale”). For nightlife and beach sports you’ll need to take a cab to Patong beach.
Favorite thing: I discovered that you can find some really beautiful beaches, restaurants (and I'm using the term loosely), shops, and people without venturing that far away from the mainstream resorts and villages. Just over the hill 2 km South of the main Kata beach is Kata Noi which was just paradise and had hardly anyone there! Similarly, we walked about 500 metres from our hotel down a backroad and found a wonderful Indian "restuarant" called Royal India. Based on the reception they gave us it seemed that tourists don't eat there.
My husband I fled from Kata Beach after only one day. The town is very noisy and touristic and the beach is stuffed full of people, jetskis and speedboats. It really wasn't relaxing and would have been a disappointing vacation had we stayed there. So we travelled to Nai Yang Beach, just next to the airport. This place is COMPLETELY different, a lovely long stretch of mostly empty beach (not deserted) backed by a national park. Very laid-back. Plenty of sunbeds and nice little restaurants with great food, many right on the beach... eat with your feet in the sand. The accommodations are all set back in the park in a very nice atmosphere. You can still find travel agencies, dive centers, shops, massage places and all that, but not in a loud in-your-face way. We also saw wildlife at this lovely beach. The people were very nice and welcoming: lots of friendly locals who say "hello" and "good morning" to you in a genuine way as you pass and a lot of the children wanted to shake my hand. This also was very diffrent from Kata Beach.
So if you are looking for a relaxing vacation, I don't recommend Kata Beach. But if you like noise and busy nightlife... Kata Beach is your place. Kids and teenagers would like Kata Beach and teenagers especially would probably find Nai Yang Beach to be too quiet.
If you want to see the difference between the beaches, compare the two photos I am including. Read some of my other tips if you are interested in Nai Yang. Both beaches have done an excellent job repairing the tsunami damage.
Favorite thing: If you are going to Phuket anytime soon, and would like to go to a beach, I would seriously suggest this beach as it was practically untouch by the tsunami, beach bench and stalls are in full swing. The Beach is clean and the wave are actually quite strong as well. There is a beach club by the name of Twin Palms which have a shower as well.
Patong has a long (2km or so) beach which looks quite attractive. It's long, curved and tree-lined, but it has a couple of drawbacks - firstly it gets really crowded, but secondly and more seriously the road runs right past it for most of the way. So you get lots of noise and pollution from what is a very busy road!
The more northern section has a part where the road is at a distance - that was the most crowded bit. It's not a peaceful beach, but if you're just there to pick up a tan, it'll do the job...
I managed to get some sun for one day - this whole day was dedicated to pleasures of the beach!
Notice the woman sitting behind me - the sand was so hot she had to stop for a while under my umbrella as she was barefoot!
For a relaxing few hours, rent a beach chair/umbrella (50b/day) and get some food at "Lee's Italian" right on the beach. The Thai food there is out of this world even though it is an "Italian" joint. And the ladies that cook the food are wonderful too.
And don't hire a long-tail boat in the morning to take you to the little island on the south end of the beach. Wait until low tide and walk there!!!
Kata Beach is a relaxing spot that is lovely for a holiday where you need to just unwind and relax.
It can get pretty busy I guess, with some big resorts in its vicinity, but its not garish like Patong.
Fondest memory: Walking along the beach early on my last morning there in April 2004 and taking some photos of a beach scene like one would see in a travel brochure!
Patong is built alongside one of the best beaches on the island, though it can get quite crowded around the resort. In theory big multi story buildings are not allowed. Obviously the builders in Thailand have problems with local laws!!
Also see my Tourist trap tip.