Phuket ranks amongst the top world dream island destinations. This worldwide popularity is earned largely by the natural beauty of Phuket's west coast beaches. From white sand, brown sand, shady, sun-ravaged, windy, sheltered, busy and deserted beach – Phuket’s home to almost every types of beach, all waiting to be explored.
Everywhere on Phuket Island is beautiful but the south part of the island is straight out of a tropical daydream. The southern coastline is blessed with magnificent mountains covered with lush jungle forest that stretch out to meet the azure blue sea and are framed with white powder sandy beaches and fringed with coral reefs. When you see a photograph of Phuket, it is likely to have been taken in the south part of the island. The southern beaches offer superb vistas and some of the most glorious sunsets in the world. The South Coast Area covers the part of the island that lies south of Relax Bay on the west and then across the island to include the Cape Panwa area. Many of the best hotels and restaurants in Phuket and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are located here.
By taking a tour or Beach Safari of the northern beaches of Phuket you will certainly be leaving the crowds behind. The north part of the island is less developed and gets only a tiny fraction of the visitors to Phuket. Many of those waiting to be loaded like cattle on to a boat and shipped off to Phi-Phi Island or one of the other tourist Islands seeking a remote island experience would be well advised to keep their feet dry, and drive for an hour to the north end of Phuket. Miles of unspoiled beaches, and good food await you. The rugged beauty of the northern beaches can only be enhanced by the feeling of having them all to yourself.
As you travel north you will encounter beaches dominated with casuarina pine trees rather than palm trees. These unusual trees are like a natural beach umbrella and offer cool shade from the blistering tropical sun, and a if you listen carefully they make slight singing sound as they sway to the call of the offshore breezes. Expect a quiet enchanting experience if you break away from the herd and visit the north end of the island.
During the day enjoy all the beach-type activities from sunbathing to beach volleyball. Pirate's Cove mini-golf is near the south end of Patong on Rat Uthit Rd. Restaurants abound featuring every type of cuisine from seafood, noodle and rice vendors along the beach promenade to French cuisine at Le Croissant on Bangla Rd, Mexican food at Viva Mexico south of Soi Post Office, Indian food at Tandoor on Soi Kepsup and Italian at Da Maurizio's up on Kalim Bay.
At night the area rocks with music ranging from Tommy Doyle's piano keys at Baan Ram Pi and the neighbouring sounds of a jazz band down into the heart of Patong near the intersection of Thawiwong and Bangla Rds over to Rat Uthit.
For real night action head for the area around Bangla Rd and Soi San Sabai. For dancing there's the disco clubs like the Banana Discotheque and the famous transvestite show is found at the Simon Cabaret or at UFO. Soi Sunset has clubs that don't even get started until midnight.
In spite of the large Park entertainment center in the north end of the valley Kamala has maintained its small fishing village atmosphere. If you take the first left turn at the bottom of the grade you will come to a small bridge continue to the left and you will find two isolated small beaches. The little lanes and meandering small roads that branch off lead to beautiful beach houses and cottages and several low rise condominiums.
This end of the beach offers a peaceful tranquil environment with crystal clear water and coral reefs just a few meters offshore. Back to the bridge and a right turn brings you to a small fishing village strung out along the beach going north. Intermixed with small houses is the occasional store and restaurant.
The atmosphere at Kamala is very relaxed and a very pleasant location for those looking for a quiet beach for sunning or taking a long lazy stroll along a mostly deserted beach. The little shops selling food are quite good and the prices are low enough that you can eat Thai style; by eating a little food from a large number of stalls. The Kamala Valley is a popular rental area for those who are staying a few months or more on the island.
Laem Sing Beach
A tropical beach with pine trees rather than palm trees may seem out of place to many but the local Thais flock to this beach on weekends and holidays and bask in the shade provided by these unusual trees. The middle of the beach front is occupied by a dozen Thai beach-style mini restaurants serving up sizzling seafood to hungry visitors. Surin Beach is usually the second stop on the north beach safari and a good place for lunch because the next beach stop does not serve food.
For the careful swimmer Surin offers some good snorkeling opportunities at both ends of the beach but during the rainy season the water visibility is not very good. Big waves that are common on Surin beach during the monsoon season have caused a steep drop from the shore to the water line and can create dangerous undertow conditions. During high tide when the swells are big and running swiftly good surfing conditions exist here and are becoming an increasingly popular sport. There are no vendors renting surf boards at the beach yet but that may change in the future. Good surfing conditions can make for hazardous swimming and care must be taken with children and non-swimmers.
Mai Khao Beach
Nai Yang Beach
As throughout southern Thailand if you find a beach that is popular with local Thais it will also have a wonderful selection of grilled seafood stalls and other Thai munchies and Nai Yang Beach is no exception.
During low tide swimming can be good and a large coral reef a short distance offshore harbors a considerable variety us sea life and seashells are known to wash ashore here, especially after a monsoon storm. Nai Yang Beach has a very different feeling than beaches to the south. Nai Yang is usually the last beach stop on the north beach safari.
Nai Thon Beach
A new blacktop road will take you winding along through rubber plantations and hills overlooking the Andaman Sea where coral reefs show clearly beneath the azure blue water and waves breaking over magnificent rock formations offers yet another breathtaking scene as you make your way along this 15 minute journey to one of the most beautiful and isolated beaches on the island.
As you descend the last hill you will find a peaceful, quiet cove, beautiful along its length, and well sheltered from wind and waves and offers wonderful swimming. Both ends of the beach are flanked with rocky headlands jutting out to the sea. Corals and rich marine life are drawn to the rocks and they offer excellent fishing.
There is a small fishing village across the road from the beach with some small bungalows and a few small restaurants. There is seldom more than few people on the beach but if you want total solitude backtrack down the road south keeping a sharp lookout and you will find two small beaches.
Nai Thorn Beach
Bang Tao Beach
This remarkable complex of five luxury resort hotels integrated into one into what appears to be small city by the sea. The Banyan Tree Phuket, The Allamanda, Dusit Laguna, and the Sheraton Phuket all employ the same low rise village style architecture that are uniquely designed to blend with the vastness of the old tin mine which is what this area used to be. The old tin mining lake is now a beautifully landscaped lagoon that serves as a watersports center.
Karon Beach is a long gently curving beach of small sparkling white sand dunes, crisp clean water and a few evergreen trees.As you circle the roundabout, you can go east through the village and you will be on the main highway running east and west across the island, or you can continue south along the road to Kata beach and the rest of the south coast beaches.
In the past years, many resorts and large hotels opened almost everywhere, with unique views on the bay. Recently paved, the long beach front offers an excellent walk to choose among the many restaurants serving seafood. Among the most famous are the Karon Sea Sand , Karon Beach Resort, or Phuket Orchid Resort.
Of course, shops, tailors and souvenirs florishe almost anywhere, convinience stores and bars. From the circle, the road going inland is now the "hot spot" of Karon beach with dozens of bars, some with girls, some other more trendy. Many restaurants are also open here, with a large choice of cuisines, including mexican and steak houses.
During the months of June through September, the strong south-west winds brings surf from the open sea. Karon Beach and Relax Bay Beach receive continuous big waves and experienced surfers head out to challenge them. The southern end of Karon Beach has the most surf activity and there are surf stations with boards for hire. Near the south end of the beach is the famous Dino Park Mini-Golf located and the south end is also a perfect spot for children snorkeling at high tide when lots of fish swim close to the beach in crystal clear water. One of the amusing thing in Karon is the noise of the sand when you walk on the beach... try it!
Kata is a broad and curving beach with soft white sand, an evergreen small island out in the bay named Poo and lush green hills in the background.
The 1,5 km long beach is located in a protected bay with calm crystal clear water, and since the sea are shallow longer out than the beaches at Kata Noi and Karon it is more child friendly.
One of the best shallow coral reef on Phuket Island is to be found north of Club Med, around 70-80 meters off the beach stretching toward the small Poo island.
Nightlife is now quite active in Kata Center, a large choice of restaurants and bars open their doors all day, but it looks more lively at night. Choice of food is large, from Scandinavian, Indian, Pizzerias or English, but of course seafood and Thai food restaurants as well. Many bars are still in the old "phuket way", with girls calling you when you walk down the street, but lately some more original bars opened with a friendly cozy style, like the "Cafe del Mar". Shop till you drop with hundred of souvenir shops, tailors and dive shops opened till late. Kata is a small village, half way between the hyper active nights of patong beach and some other remote beaches.
On the weekends many of the local Thais come here to picnic and vendors roam up and down selling everything from sausages and dried squid to ice cream, fresh fruit, sodas and shaved ice treats. At the east end of this beach there are a number of shops selling sea shells and other tourist items.
A sea gypsy village is located here also but it is not recommended to visit these people who are in the process of being supplanted by tourism. A couple of hotels and bungalow resorts are found along Rawai with their accompanying restaurants.
There is a main pier here although it is currently under major construction until 2000-01 as well as an Immigration Check-point for incoming yachts. Many of the dive operators depart from here.
Chalong is a centre for many of the resident ex-pats on the island and has the flavour of a combination Thai-European village. There's a great local early morning market and in the evening near the circle is a vendor market featuring all sorts of curries and Thai foods. Local buses heading to all points of the southern end of Phuket pass around the circle and there's a motorcycle taxi stand there as well.
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