Phuket is known for its outstanding beaches, probably more than anything else. With over 30 of them around the island, there’s a wide variety of atmospheres, scenery, facilities and even textures of sand available. However, with such a huge amount of choice, the question of which is the best beach in Phuket is inevitable. This is not a simple question to answer, and it largely depends on how you judge a ‘good beach’. We chose to combine a number of measurements, from the availability of nearby places to eat and drink to the fineness of the sand and the idyllic-ness of the surroundings. We also gave priority to those beaches with a lifeguard station, so pretty much all of those listed below have at least one. If you’ve visited before, you might be surprised by some of the places we’ve included, and even more so by some of the places which didn’t make it into the top 10 best beaches in Phuket. Do you agree with our list?
1 Kata Beach Kata Beach has it all – beautiful soft sand, nodding palm trees, clean waters with a soft seabed, good surfing in the low season and snorkelling in the high season and a fantastic laid-back atmosphere. It has colourful longtail boats moored at the northern end, with a few budget food and drink vendors often found nearby, while the southern end has a choice of beachfront hotels and restaurants and an exciting flow-rider park at Surf House. At about 1.5 km in length, it doesn’t usually get too crowded, either.
2 Freedom Beach A 300-metre-long strip of some of the finest white sand in Phuket, Freedom Beach has all the isolation of a pristine desert island, but also has a restaurant and beach chairs available. It has none of the usual jet skis, parasailing and wandering vendors to pester you while you’re chilling out (as are common on some of the busier beaches), making it the best balance of peaceful and quiet without sacrificing convenience. It’s a little tricky to get to, being accessible only by longtail boat or a steep footpath down a hill, it has an air of exclusivity.
3 Kata Noi Beach Neighbour to Kata Beach (the name literally meaning “little Kata Beach”), Kata Noi is just under 700m long, but is an amazingly beautiful spot. The sand there is among the finest, the sea among the nicest and the surrounding restaurants among the finest in Phuket. There are only a couple of hotels along its length, but they too are rated among the best available. A much quieter place than its big brother to the north, it has a more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere while still offering the same great surfing and snorkelling opportunities.
4 Ya Nui Beach With a total length of less than 200m – and that in an L-shaped curve – Ya Nui is one of Phuket’s smallest beaches, and yet is amazingly popular for its size. It is not hard to see why, with its beautiful sand and sea and striking scenery, being just beneath Windmill Viewpoint. The beach’s rocky outcrop is somewhat iconic, is easy to climb on for striking holiday snaps and helps create great conditions for snorkelers. In spite of its small size, there is a good selection of nearby restaurants, vendors and accommodation.
5 Surin Beach Admittedly, Surin Beach is not what it used to be. Once the home of several of Phuket’s top beach clubs and a bustling local market, it had an air of sophisticated fun. Even with that now gone, the beach retains its raw natural beauty, with tree-lined soft white sand and clear tropical seas. The 800-metre-long beach remains a very popular choice and the home of a good selection of Phuket’s most exclusive hotels, shops and restaurants.
6 Paradise Beach The name says it all – Paradise! Less than 200m in length and with a little rocky headland making it technically two beaches, this tiny cove near Patong has calm waters with a soft seabed pretty much throughout the year, while the lovely white sand shaded by nodding palm trees which look like they came straight off the cover of a holiday brochure. Being the home of Paradise Beach Club, the little cove has a great choice of facilities, including restaurants, bars, sea kayaks, beach chairs and more. It is also the home of Phuket’s only Koh Phangan-style beach parties.
7 Nai Harn Beach Once a quiet and secluded spot at the southern end of Phuket, the 660-metre-long Nai Harn Beach has been very definitively “discovered” and continues to grow in popularity. However, thanks to the relatively small size of the bay and the presence of a large lake almost immediately behind the beach, the spot hasn’t been excessively developed, so it retains its quiet charm. With its soft sand, lifeguards on station and very gently sloping soft seabed, it is quite a family-friend beach, with a good choice of hotels, shops and restaurants nearby. On windier days, it is also a good spot for kite-surfing and stand-up paddle boarding.
8 Bangtao Beach At 6 km in length, Bangtao is one of the longest beaches in Phuket. Along that length, you will find some of the island’s top hotels, restaurants and beach clubs, making it a popular place for all kinds of visitors and locals. While the scenery is perhaps not as picturesque and the sand not as soft as some of the places further up our list, Bangtao is still one of the best beaches in Phuket thanks to the sheer variety of nearby attractions and the sheer size, which means it’s never that hard to find a quiet spot to enjoy some peace and quiet.
9 Patong Beach No list of the best beaches in Phuket could be complete without mentioning Patong. Undoubtedly the most popular stretch of coastline on the island, it could be said to be a victim of its own popularity, being generally busy right along its 2.5 km length. However, there is no part of Phuket with a livelier atmosphere. The town behind the beach is home to many great restaurants and hotels, as well as the best of Phuket’s nightlife, while the beach itself has nice sand and plenty of attractions and activities.
10 Karon Beach Karon Beach has the interesting honour of having the squeakiest sand in Phuket. Fine and soft, it makes a funny sound when you walk on it. At 3.3 km in length, it is the third-longest beach in Phuket and is close to being perfectly straight. It is beautifully lined with trees for a lot of the southern end, with volleyball nets and beachfront restaurants in the northern half. The sea here is very approachable, though it is noted for its strong riptides. There are virtually no rocks along the length of the beach, so you can take a cooling dip with no risk of hurting your feet.
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