Koh Naka Yai and Naka Noi
The Naka Islands are just off the northeast coast of Phuket. There are two islands, Koh Naka Yai (big) and Koh Naka Noi (little). The islands are still mostly undeveloped although one luxury resort has set up shop here and there is another in the pipeline. There are some lovely beaches around the two islands and they are well worth a visit for those who enjoy exploring Phuket's attractions.
The most common way people visit the Naka Islands is as part of a Phang Nga Bay daytrip. However, it is also possible to make your own way to the Naka Islands and you can also stay here. There are two very different resorts on Koh Naka Yai.
Koh Naka Yai
Koh Naka Yai is of course the larger of the two islands. It has four main beaches and a few other slivers of sand. The two big beaches on the east coast have great views across to Koh Yao Yai and to the northeast are the distant towering limestone karsts of Phang Nga Bay.
This is the most common reason why visitors come to Koh Naka. Many of the daytrip boats that do tours to Phang Nga Bay also like to include a beach stop on their itinerary. Koh Naka Yai has the best beach on route.
So in the afternoons the tour boats and speedboats stop on their way back from Phang Nga Bay and moor up at the long beach on Koh Naka Yai's eastern side. The beach has been set up to accommodate the many day-trippers. There is a single beach bar and some very basic toilets at this beach. There are a few other vendors selling refreshments such as coconuts, etc. Of course, it is an island and a bit of a tourist trap so everything is a little expensive.
There is a long line of deckchairs on this beach. You can rent kayaks and unfortunately, also jet-skis and banana boats. For three hours, the beach is a hectic hive of activity and then around 5pm, the day-trippers disappear and the island returns to its normal tranquil state.
The shorter beach on the island's east coat is home to the Tentanakara Resort (see our accommodation section below). This beach is quiet as the day-trippers all go to the other beach.
The small local population have a village on the west coast. There is a pier here and a long narrow beach. There are dirt tracks around the village. There are some basic provision shops here and a few homes. The locals survive on agriculture, fishing and of course their tourism income.
The other major beach is on the northwest corner of the island. This is the location of the luxury 5-star Six Senses Sanctuary Spa.
The island is a low-lying, forested, granite island. There are tracks running through the forest and plantations around much of the island. It is possible to walk between all of the beaches and the village.
Koh Naka Noi
To the south of Koh Naka Yai is Koh Naka Noi, the smaller of the two Naka Islands. This island has a single long beach which runs around the north and western side of the island. It is a beautiful, pristine, unspoiled stretch of sand with overhanging coconut palms.
The island is best known for its pearl farm. Several of the day trips boats stop here for a tour of the farm and there is also a shop that sells the pearls. If you go to the island privately, the farm is often not open for a tour but the pearl shop is usually open.
Apart from the pearl farm, this island is totally undeveloped.
The easiest way to visit the Naka Islands is to join one of the day-trip tours that stop here on their way back from Phang Nga Bay.
However, on this site we always like to encourage people to get out and explore themselves. You can hire a boat from Ao Po Pier and explore the entire area properly and at your own pace.
You can take a longtail boat for 700-baht one way. Better still, hire a longtail for the day. It should only cost around 2,000-baht to hire a longtail for the day to go all the way around the Naka Islands and stop at all of the beaches. It is always a much more satisfying experience to go at your own pace.
You could rent a longtail to do a tour of Phang Nga Bay and visit the Naka islands for around 3,500-baht but then of course you do not get so much time at the islands.
If you want to go fast, you can rent a speedboat from Ao Po for around 15,000-baht.
Ao Po Pier is on the northeast side of Phuket. Take route 4027 from Heroines Monument towards Paklok. After about 10km, you will see the right-hand turn signposted to Ao Po.
There are two very different resorts on Koh Naka Yai.
Six Senses Sanctuary (5 star)
This is a luxury 5-star wellness spa. They have pool villas. Their rates are inclusive of full board (3 meals) and an hour spa treatment per day. The resort is located on the northwest corner of Koh Naka Yai on a nice beach facing Phuket. (This resort has recently changed ownership and will be rebranded.)
Tentanakara Hotel (2 star)
This is the other end of the scale and totally different. They call themselves
a luxury tent island resort. It certainly isn't camping but it is close to
nature. The rooms are comfortable but basic structures under thatched roofs.
They have running water but the rooms have no electricty. The resort runs
a generator between 6pm and 10pm for the restaurant area and they have wi-fi
at this time. It
is all set on a beach on the northwest side of Naka Yai with views across
to Phang Nga Bay. This is an idyllic escape for those who want somewhere
quiet and natural.
If you decide to stay on Koh Naka Yai, remember it is an undeveloped island. The village has limited supplies and everything is more expensive than you would pay on the mainland. You need to make sure you bring what you need, sun lotion, insect repellant, etc. You can get a longtail to Phuket for 700-baht one way.
See our Accommodation section for more
general advice about finding rooms.