Phuket Beach Guide
Phuket has many attractions but undoubtedly top of the list are the wonderful beaches. Phuket has long beaches and tiny coves, crowded beaches and quiet beaches, beaches ringed with hotels, shops and bars, and beaches with nothing more than a single restaurant.
Below we have provided an easy-click map so you can locate all the beaches. Here we describe every significant beach along Phuket's western and southern coasts - 41 beaches in total.
All of Phuket's Beaches
Click on the section of the map you want to see.
General Information about Phuket's Beaches
Phuket's best beaches are along the west coast where the yearly pounding from the rainy season waves has created beautiful bays with golden powdery sand. Along the south and east coasts are stony beaches more suited to walking, shell collecting or relaxing in a restaurant and enjoying the view.
All beaches in Thailand are public. Unfortunately, in some cases developers buy all the land around the beach and do not allow access across their land to the beach - effectively making the beach exclusive to their own hotel. If you want to visit these beaches then you can try entering through the hotel. Often they will not challenge you and the worst that can happen is they refuse you entry. Otherwise you will have to access the beach by boat.
Most of Phuket's beaches have sun loungers for rent. At the busy beaches such as Patong, Karon and Kata they line the entire length of the beach, sometimes in rows three or four deep. At the quieter beaches they are more spread out. There are a handful of beaches that do not have sun loungers.
The sun lounger rent varies from beach to beach. In October 2006 most beaches increased the rent to 100 baht per lounger from the previous charge of 50 baht. There are a few beaches that charge more.
At the busy beaches the sun loungers are grouped into blocks and a group of Thais manages each block. The good sun lounger managers will be friendly, provide refreshments at reasonable prices and will keep an eye on your possessions when you are swimming. If you are a regular beach visitor, you will probably find a group you like and make it your beach spot.
There are a variety of water sports available. The busy beaches are a hive of activity with banana boats, parasails and jet skis fizzing across the water. These beaches have cordonned off sections where bathers can swim safely. You will pay from 500 to 1000 baht for these activities. The prices tend to be un-negotiable.
Some of the quieter beaches have kayaks for rent so you can go and explore around the headlands.
There is some good snorkeling as long as you find an area where a jet ski will not inadvertantly take your head off. See our section on the best snorkeling beaches.
The waters around Phuket are generally very safe but a few words of warning.
The biggest danger while bathing in the waters around Phuket is getting caught in a rip tide. Phuket averages around 20 drownings a year. They almost all happen during the rainy season when the waves are big. If there are red flags flying at the beach this indicates potentially dangerous conditions and you should not swim.
Rip tides occur when the water that the waves push into the beach funnels together and channels back out to sea. This can create a very strong drag that can pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea. If you are caught in a rip tide you should not try to swim against the current; you will just exhaust yourself. Remember the current is only a channel covering a small section of the beach. You should swim sideways, horizontal to the beach until you exit the current and then swim back to the beach.
There are a few species of shark around Phuket’s waters but none that are dangerous to people. There have been absolutely no recorded shark attacks.
There are a few jellyfish around Phuket but most of them are harmless. The major exception is the box jellyfish. These are very dangerous and have been responsible for many deaths around the world. Until recently, scientists thought that box jellyfish were not present in the Andaman Sea. Then in 2008, a box jellyfish stung and killed a tourist at Koh Lanta. The tourist island of Koh Lanta is only 100km southeast of Phuket. Scientists still believe that box jellyfish are a very unusual occurrence around Phuket but it does show they do exist. You will know immediately if a box jellyfish stings you. Victims describe the sting as excruciatingly painful. The immediate treatment should be to douse the sting in vinegar to counteract the venom and then seek medical treatment.
Occasionally, you may notice a light stinging sensation in the water. It is a quick sting that fades so quickly you are not even sure it happened. There are two causes. There may be stingers floating in the water that have fallen from jellyfish further out at sea and washed into shore. The other cause is sea mites; tiny sea creatures that bite if they come into contact with your skin. In both cases, the sting is harmless to most people but a few may get an allergic reaction.
Most of Phuket's beaches are ringed with trees. There are several species but the two most common are palms and casuarinas
Palms - There are several varieties of palm tree. The most common is the iconic image of tropical beaches - the coconut palm. You will see them everywhere with tempting bunches of coconuts clumped under the wide, feathered leaves. The coconuts are not easy to get at and they do not taste that great until they have been chilled. There will usually be a local food vendor selling them for 10 to 20 baht each.
Do not sit under coconut trees - a surprising number of people are injured or killed by falling coconuts. Here is a slightly silly statistic - every year worldwide, the number of people killed by falling coconuts is much higher than the number killed by shark attacks.
Casuarinas - This is a species similar to fir trees that thrive in sandy soil near beaches. They have clusters of needle shaped leaves and drop small burs onto the ground. They grow to great heights and provide good shelter from the sun's rays.