So many beaches on Phuket; quiet, busy, romantic & hideaway beaches

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The island's reputation for beautiful beaches is well deserved...

Which are the most beautiful tropical beaches in Phuket? Tough question, when the island has so many diverse stretches of soft sand with clear, warm water. As the photos show, this island has beaches enclosed by rugged mountains, long, flat stretches of beach with hardly a soul in sight and active beaches with crowds from around the planet.
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The luck of geography has created ideal conditions for the formation of perfect beaches here. As an island, Phuket juts away from the mainland, its southern end immersed well out into the Andaman Sea. That ensures an endless flow of exceptionally clear water from the deep. Steep mountains fall into the ocean here, creating bays in which delightful, and very individual beaches have formed. Over the eons bountiful coral reefs in the surrounding seas have provided coral and shell for grinding into super-fine sand.
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Add a warm, tropical climate with plentiful rainfall to this equation and Phuket has indeed been able create a whole string of tropical paradise beaches. How well we humans have been able to care for these delightful environments is another issue. Some readers are not fazed by beaches crowded with people, while others feel the crowds detract from natural beauty. Here we focus on natural physical attributes, irrespective of the number of people using each beach.
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This selection of 10 of the most beautiful of Phuket’s beaches was made by someone with 30 years experience photographing them. Each beach also has its own, detailed page and photos within this site, or in some cases several info pages and scores of photos.
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See more info & photo pages about Kamala, Phuket and all Thai beach destinations:

Pansea Beach, Phuket – a little-seen, peaceful hideaway

This little-known beach is something of an enigma; it’s sometimes considered the northern extension of Surin Beach , but it’s completely cut off by a small headland and the crowds of visitors who come to Surin in high season cannot see it. And most never even realize it’s there. That surely, is one of the major reasons this exceptionally beautiful, stretch of sand has been about to keep its natural face.
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Just two low-density beachfront resorts face onto Pansea’s 400-metres, The Surin and the famous celebrity hideaway Amanpuri Resort . Few outsiders find their way in here, leaving Pansea Beach one of the most peaceful and unspoiled on Phuket.
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Phuket’s beautiful Nai Harn Beach, in a bay with just one beach hotel

Nai Harn Beach now sees thousands of visitors on its sands through the high season months, however it has survived the challenges of mass tourism better than almost any other beach in Phuket. There are three reasons for this good fortune. First, geography has placed this beach in the most beautiful bay on Phuket, with high hills around the sides and a small coconut-covered island just offshore. Second is the fact that none of the surrounding hills were cultivated in the past, and thus no private land titles were ever created. Nobody can build there as a result, leaving the hills entirely natural. The final stroke of luck is that many years before tourism arrived on Phuket Buddhist monks built a meditation retreat at the back of this beach, thus establishing sacred monastic title to the land, locking out the ugly urban blight that has overrun many other beaches.
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Nai Harn Beach has just a single beachfront resort, the The Nai Harn. In yet another luck strike for this beach, the hotel was designed by well-known Thai architect Mom Tri Devakul, who chose to lay the hotel back against the hillside in an unobtrusive manner rather than build directly up – something that other developers would most likely have done.
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Nai Thon Beach, Phuket and its little sister Nai Thon Noi

Nai Thon Beach was one the last of Phuket’s major west coast beaches that tourism caught up with - though here there’s never been ‘mass’ in the tourism here. While it’s far from undiscovered, Nai Thon still remains relatively quiet. Isolation is one of the reasons, for this is far from Phuket’s major dining, shopping and entertainment centres. The local community in Nai Thon is so tiny it supports just one or two local grocery shops, and there are only a few local restaurants behind the beach. Of course the dozen or so hotels here have dining facilities, but they’re all set back from the beach, on the wrong side of the road that runs right along the sands. Otherwise, it’s a 20 minute drive to the Bang Tao Beach area to find a good choice of restaurants, bars and beach clubs.
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Nai Thon is a classic west coast Phuket beach, with fine sand sloping down to exceptionally clear, calm water. There’s no off-shore reef, and thus the bottom slopes nicely down into the deep, creating great swimming conditions. There is a thick line of casuarina, ‘deers’ ears’ and other trees at the top of the beach providing great shade.
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Because a road runs right along the top of this beach, there is only a single beachfront resort that clings to the northern headland and overlooks the beach in spectacular style. The views from this out-of-the-way, 5-star resort, Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon , are quite spectacular.
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The hidden, little sister of this beach, Nai Thon Noi, is even more stunning than the main beach itself. However that is locked away a little to the south and can only be accessed through the Andaman White Beach Resort , another of Phuket’s romantic beach hideaways.
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Kata Beach, one of Phuket’s most beautiful & famous beaches

Kata Beach is one of the beautiful, classic tropical beaches that helped make Phuket the famous beach destination it now is. Kata is second in fame only to Patong Beach. However, Kata has managed to retain much more of its original charm and natural appearance than has Patong, which has now renamed itself ‘Patong City’.
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Much of the protection that Kata has enjoyed came from the huge, 900 metres of beach that Club Med has occupied since the early 1980s – the entire centre of the beach and the majority of its 1,500-metre length. This resort is low-rise, with lots of trees through its property. This one resort has effectively blocked the ugly shop-house development that blights so many Thai beaches, and preserved the green backdrop along most the beach. Venture into the back-of-beach area, however, and it’ a very different story, with concrete in ascendance and trees sadly lacking.
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Apart from a green beach-head, Kata is picture-perfect due to the two coconut covered headlands that reign in both ends, and Iittle Crab Island that lies just off shore. The beach has no offshore reef, and the sandy, rock-free bottom slopes gently off into the deep. This creates great swimming conditions through most of the year, good surfing waves during the monsoon season and a perfect anchorage for the yachts that like to gather here for the annual King’s Cup Regatta and beyond.
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So while Kata still looks close to picture perfect in many ways, it is also one of the more popular and crowded beaches on Phuket. See photos of Kata Beach as it looked from the 1980s to compare its past and present beauty.
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Karon Beach, Phuket; perfect soft silica sand

With 3,500 metres of the finest sand and clearest water imaginable, Karon Beach is one of Phuket’s tropical classics, and one of the trio that helped make Phuket so famous starting in the 1980s. Its immediate neighbours, Patong on the north, and Kata to the south, were the others in this first-famous group of Andaman beaches.
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Karon’s sand is so fine and soft, with a near perfect mix of silica, coral and ground-up shell, that it has been the chosen venue of the Asian Beach Games, X-Sports, sand building competitions and other beach activities over many years. This is also one of the few beaches in Phuket with small sand dunes behind.
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Karon Beach is exceptionally straight, with clear views from end to end. One prominent high-rise was constructed before the 1989 ban on such buildings on Phuket’s beaches. Perhaps Karon’s biggest misgiving is the busy road that runs tight along the beach and sand dunes, blocking the possibility of beachfront resorts along most of its length. The only beachfront resorts on Karon can be seen on the Karon South map and along the far northern strip where the family-friendly Centara Grand Phuket has a water park .
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Mai Khao Beach, Phuket – for a quiet luxury beach escape

The beauty of Mai Khao Beach is entirely different to that of Phuket’s string of famous southwest beaches near Patong, which get quite crowded during the high season months. Here Mai Khao’s tranquillity reigns supreme, and it is not unusual to see kilometres of sand with no more than a scattering of people. During the low season months there might be no-one save a few fishermen on the 9.5 kilometres of sand that make up this, Phuket’s longest beach.
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This far top end of Phuket is flat and the beach straight and featureless, though mountains further south provide a pretty backdrop. It’s the isolation and natural look that so pleases the eye here – features that are becoming difficult to find in today’s Phuket.
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Mai Khao has a string of eight beachfront hotels, with most of those in the 4-and 5-star range. The first arrival on this beach was the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa which was able to secure more than half a kilometre of beachfront. The most up-market and luxurious among the Mai Khao resorts is the Anantara Resort Phuket .
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Cape Panwa Beach, peace & quiet on Phuket’s southeast

Cape Panwa Beach is one of those isolated but beautiful patches of sand that can only be accessed by walking through the resort that surrounds it – in this case the old, iconic Cape Panwa Hotel .
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One of the earliest beach hotels on this island, Cape Panwa was able to choose one of the few small beaches of exceptional beauty that it could completely surround and thus virtually command. Though there are no truly private beaches in Thailand, controlling all access to a beach gives the same effect – and great privacy for the resort’s guests.
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This is the only east-facing beach on Phuket that might be called really beautiful. Lying at the far southeast corner of the island, it is exposed to relatively big ocean waves and deep, clear seas, the very things that build nice beaches. All beaches further up the east coast lie in shallow, murky water with mangrove forests nearby, and are narrow and poorly developed.
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As our photos of Cape Panwa Beach show, it is definitely one of the more attractive, less-crowded stretches of sand on this island.

Surin Beach, Phuket – sullied beach beauty coming back to life

Surin Beach is a Phuket anomaly – a beautiful beach lying on the island’s west coast but with no beachfront hotels whatever, nor any commercial development immediately behind the beach. Surin and its fans were lucky that many years ago the land behind the beach was turned into a small public golf course, Phuket’s first. Though the golf course is now gone, the land remains public and all commercial development has been locked out.
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Surin has suffered seriously at the hands of would-be developers, however. Prior the Thai military take-over in 2014 many people with the right official connections built all manner of restaurants and beach clubs right into the sand, with many extending out over the beach. The walls of one restaurant protruded so far out into the beach that at high tide people could not walk down the beach, being forced to pass around the back of the offending restaurant. Surin was being turned into private property.
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The great beach clean-up of 2014 put an end to all commercial constructions on Phuket’s public beaches, and Surin regained her purity, as best it could be recaptured with the removal of illegal walls and buildings.
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With small headlands closing in both ends and trees providing green behind, Surin remains in quite good condition. But Surin’s trump card is her sensuous shape. The fine, soft sand slopes away more steeply than on most other Phuket beaches, quickly running into deep water. It makes Surin one of the best swimming beaches on Phuket.
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See a gallery of photos of Phuket beaches over the past 30 years including Surin, to compare current and past beauty.
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Kata Noi Beach, Phuket – home to the huge Katathani Resort

Kata Noi Beach has always been second in line behind its bigger sister, Kata Beach, which lies just across a small headland. But while they share a similar name, there is not much similarity between the two, except, perhaps, that they are both among the famous, and very beautiful west coast beaches of Phuket.
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Kata Noi is backed by a huge, steep mountain, which encloses it while enhancing its rugged character. The beach has no offshore reef, with the fine sand bottom sloping down into water of ever-increasing depth. The water here is always clear and warm, about as close to perfection as you can find. It’s one of Phuket’s top swimming beaches, and even produces some well-shaped surfing waves during the monsoon.
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Kata Noi has one huge resort, the Katathani Resort, occupying over 500 of its total 700 metres length. The only other beach front hotel here is one from the same owners, The Shore at Katathani, on the southern hillside overlooking the beach.
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Kata Noi Beach has a narrow public access at the south end of Katathani Resort through which thousands of Russian and other tourists squeeze each day during the high season months. While the number of people on the beach can sometimes get quite high, the overall geographic beauty of this beach and its spectacular location remains.
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Patong Beach, Phuket – so famous, but for nightlife not beach

Including Phuket’s most famous beach, Patong , in this list of most beautiful beaches might stir a little controversy. Some would argue that the original beauty of this classic beach-in-a-bay has been destroyed by the ugliness of the urban constructions overshadowing it. And prior the great beach clean-up of 2014 the tens of thousands of umbrellas and beach lounges were an ugly blight that would have definitely ruled out the use of the word ‘beauty’ here. But Patong underwent a surprising transition with the removal of all commercial activities from the sands, and a good measure of the undeniable beauty that originally made Patong famous was restored.
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The military’s beach clean-up was controversial, to say the least, stirring heated debate in Thai society and bitter anger among the hundreds of vendors who lost their livelihoods. But public opinion was solidly behind the move. Perhaps the best summary was this from Mom Tri Devakul, a famous Thai architect and proprietor of his own Phuket resort, Mom Tri’s Villa Royale, “Things had gone too far. The beaches had become private property. Visitors could not use the beach without paying the vendors who controlled it. They had to do something.”
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Patong Beach is unusual in that it holds the highest number of hotels of all beaches in Phuket, with more than 250 accommodations establishments, but has only three hotels right on the beach. Of those three relatively small beachfront hotels the 4-star Impiana Resort Patong has the longest and nicest stretch of beach.
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by John Everingham

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