Phuket’s breathtaking beaches are its biggest lure. You can’t really argue with miles and miles of palm-fringed, pearly-white sand lapped by aquamarine waters that offer plenty of sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling opportunities.
Uninhibited and boisterous, Patongis without its stunning crescent-shaped bay is without a doubt the queen of the island’s coastline. Home to numerous hotels that cater to all wallet sizes, it also tempts with a range of exhilarating water activities, dining choices and shopping options. By night it transforms into party central with discos, cabarets and bars announcing their wares in bright neon.
Moving down south, Karon and Kata, separated only by a narrow forested promontory, offer very different experiences that are popular with couples and families. With over five kilometres of white sand and turquoise waters, Karon is less crowded than its neighbours and has a more laidback air. Snorkellers will enjoy the spectacular coral reef just off its southern end. Once a haven for backpackers and hippies, a rocky headland divides the 1.5-km-long Kata into two beaches – Kata Yai and Kata Noi. Its scenic beauty and energetic vibe make it a popular haunt with a younger upscale set. Koh Pu a short swim away is excellent for observing the underwater world in the area.
Located close to Phromthep Cape, the southern-most tip of Phuket, Rawai Beach is closest to Phuket Town. Before the many beaches were connected by roads, locals would drive down here on weekends for a bit of surf and sand. A great place to enjoy freshly caught seafood, it is also the place from where most boat excursions head out to nearby islands.
Close to the airport on the northwest coast of Phuket and a part of the Sirinat National Park, Mai Khao at 10 km is the longest beach on the island. Except for a few luxury resorts, the strip of sandy beach bordered by groves of screw pines is pristine, secluded, beautiful, and a sanctuary for the endangered sea turtles.