Thailand was the first of the countries in South East Asia to develop a strong tourist economy and it has maintained its lead.
There is a fascinating history and culture in this country, formerly known as Siam.
Bangkok, its capital, is a hugely popular place; however, its extensive coastline and offshore islands are an even greater attraction.
There are east and west facing coasts and some of the world’s best beaches.
Some have been used as locations for Hollywood films, drawing hundreds of travelers to the pristine coves depicted on the big screen.
There are plenty of options, and the island of Phuket has become the first choice for many.
Phuket sits in the Andaman Sea – a mountainous island covering 550 square kilometers, blanketed in forests with gorgeous white-sand beaches.
Let’s have a look at the best beaches in Phuket:
1. Banana Beach, Coral Island
The beach gets its name from the fringe of trees that border its crescent-shaped shoreline.
It is not easy to find, but the search brings its rewards.
Banana Beach has remained fairly quiet because of its relative inaccessibility; you need to walk down from the parking lot through the forest to get there.
There are some facilities, with a local restaurant catering to visitors.
The monsoon season from May to October means that swimming is not advisable during these months.
It doesn’t mean hour after hour of rain each day, so it’s still worth a visit during these months.
At high tide, there is very little beach to sit on, but as the water recedes, beautiful sands are revealed.
2. Nai Thon, North West
Nai Thon is becoming more popular precisely because it has not yet become a target for developers.
You will enjoy your journey to reach this beach as you travel through the forest then along a stunning coastline.
If you want a break from sunbathing, there are coves to explore, while diving in clear, warm waters gives access to a whole different world.
You can hire scuba equipment but you must be qualified.
There is a small village with a few restaurants and basic accommodation, so you have the option of using Nai Thon as a base away from the crowds.
3. Freedom Beach, Patong
You will avoid the crowds if you choose to go to Freedom Beach but must be prepared to trek for a kilometer or so through jungle to get there.
The alternative is to travel by boat.
You will find sun loungers when you get there but if you want to snorkel in the clear blue waters, you need to bring your own gear.
If you prefer just to enjoy the beautiful setting and white sand, that is a valid way to spend the day; you can refresh with some simple Thai food and cold drinks from the small café.
4. Kata Noi Beach, Kata
As yet, there is minimal development on Kata Noi Beach.
You can get yourself a sun lounger but there is little else – beach vendors certainly don’t bother with Kata Noi.
Surfers enjoy the northern end of the bay but surfing is more of a challenge in monsoon season when the water gets rough.
There are no restaurants or bars on the beach itself, but those built on the hills behind offer fantastic views of the region as a whole.
Sunset is certainly a good time to head up there after a day on the beach – you will get photographs that are truly memorable.
5. Kata Beach, Kata
Kata Beach will certainly be more crowded than many others.
Few of Phuket’s beaches attract more people, and many holidaymakers choose accommodation fairly close by.
This doesn’t mean the beach has lost its natural beauty; shade is provided by the attractive casuarina trees lining the beach.
There are plenty of options when it comes to food and drink, whether you are just looking for snacks or a full Thai meal.
You can learn to surf here but even experienced surfers do not test the relatively rough waters once the monsoon season arrives.
6. Ao Sane Beach, South West
This beach has basic facilities and plenty of shade provided by the almond trees.
It is a great place for snorkeling, and yachts are often moored here during high season.
There are plenty of granite boulders around the beach but don’t worry, you can relax on sandy stretches that have changed little over the years.
There are three small bays and you can walk from one to another.
Chairs can be rented for a nominal fee and snorkeling gear is available for hire.
Parking is limited but this beach rarely attracts large crowds.
7. Patong Beach, Patong
Patong is the heart of Phuket.
What makes this beach popular with some is what makes it unpopular with others – crowds.
It is approaching four kilometers long, with the busiest stretch in the center.
You will not find anywhere to park, so access Patong Beach by walking or taking a taxi.
It is quieter on the northern edge and there are still good facilities.
At the southern end, the water is often not so clear.
A small fishing village is in the south and there are some water sports to enjoy there as well.
8. Surin Beach, Surin
It is all change in Surin.
One of its beaches can no longer be accessed by land because it is private property, and Surin itself has changed completely.
It is a lovely stretch of sand but the restaurants have gone.
Development is scheduled, but in the meantime, there are fewer nicer beaches, even if the infrastructure is lacking.
Chairs have returned! The water is lovely, clear and warm.
In high season, it is a great place to swim.
You can no longer walk off the beach to have dinner locally, but by day – at least for the time being – try Surin Beach.
9. Nai Harn Beach, Nai Harn
Nai Harn’s beautiful white sand slopes gently down into the Andaman Sea.
The beach is large, and because of its size, is rarely too busy, thereby retaining a tranquil atmosphere.
It is a large bay in the south of Phuket which locals and tourists enjoy in equal measure.
There are good restaurants close by with plenty of shade as you eat lunch.
Shopping and accommodation add to the attractiveness of the area.
The sheltered bay is a popular spot for yachts to anchor.
Those wanting a relaxing massage on the beach will have no problem finding someone to do it.
10. Panwa Beach (Khao Ka), Phuket Town
This beach a few kilometers from Phuket Town has changed little over the years.
The sand may be rough but the water is shallow.
It is a lovely setting with great views across the bay and island.
Villas and condominiums have been built along the length of the beach but there are some fishermen’s huts in between.
If you go to the west end of the beach, you will find a mangrove swamp.
There are still a few fishermen here; it is so different from many of the crowded tourist areas, despite the building of those villas and condos.
11. Bang Tao Beach, Laguna
This eight kilometer stretch of beach has few equals in Phuket.
There is a golf course and a few beach resorts but public access is still available to these lovely sands.
This area was abandoned after the tin mining finished but that led to developers seeing an opportunity.
It is now a more expensive part of the island, with villas and hotels popping up, yet it remains affordable and accessible.
Lunch and a drink by the beach certainly do not ‘’break the bank.’’ The shopping is fairly exclusive, however.
12. Laem Ka Beach, South
Laem Ka is an east-facing beach in Southern Phuket where swimming is a popular pastime.
It is only 150 meters long and surrounded by boulders.
A sheltered beach, it is a great place for picnics in the shade.
Locals enjoy weekends here and the sea is very safe, even for young children.
The whole setting is beautiful, with views of the offshore islands, Koh Bob, Koh Lone and Coral; they are covered in green vegetation which contrast beautifully with the blue seas.
There is car parking behind the beach and good facilities on hand.
13. Kamala Beach, Kamala
If you are looking for a family beach that is not too crowded, Kamala may be the place for you.
What was once a little Muslim village is now a bustling small town.
Swimming is good, except in the monsoon season when the waters get a little rough.
Hotels, bars, and restaurants have sprung up without the beach losing all of its charm.
There is a well-developed nightlife scene now, and the fresh produce market is full of color.
It is a surprise that more visitors do not come to Kamala but that does not disappoint those that do.
14. Ao Yon Beach, East
Ao Yon remains a secret. There is not even a signpost – all you are likely to meet is the occasional local.
The challenge is to find An Yon, but once you do, you will be happy that you succeeded.
Palm trees, white sands, and a clear blue sea will welcome you.
There is a small village of fishermen who specialize in oysters, grown on rafts offshore.
Locals come to picnic but very few foreign tourists make it here yet.
Dragon Boats are often a feature on the weekend.
You will find small cafes selling typical Thai cuisine.
15. Yae Beach, Patong
Just north of Patong, this 200-meter stretch of sand is fairly quiet, although you will find loungers, a beach bar, and toilets.
There are a few rocks around, so it is not the best beach for swimming.
At high tide, the sea covers all but 10 meters of its width.
The best way to get to Yae is by longboat from Patong.
In any event, that is certainly the fun way! Sunset is a great time of day when you can sit at the bar and enjoy the colors.
There is a resort behind Yae with luxury villas, pool, and spa.