Phuket is the world’s finest surfing destination…
Phuket is among the world’s finest surfing destinations, huge waves with fine white sands, nodding palm trees, glittering seas and lively towns. It has something for a wide array of tastes and budgets, with hundreds of hotels to choose from, an eclectic choice of dining and plenty of partying options. Aside from visiting the fantastic attractions of Thailand’s biggest island, you can take an exhilarating speedboat trip to the many nearby tropical islands, including the famous Koh Phi Phi, or enjoy a serene cruise around the mystical Phang Nga Bay.
Phuket is blessed with more than 30 amazing beaches to choose from. Patong Beach, Kata, Karon and Kamala have always been the most popular, but the north of the island reveals some hidden gems for travelers searching for a more romantic atmosphere.
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Best Surfing Beaches
Nai Harn attracts small groups of mostly local surfers, with decent waves ranging from a half-metre to 3-metre swells at each end of the beach. There’s a beach and reef break at the northern end near The Nai Harn resort, while at the opposite end near the lagoon a permanent sandbar helps create waves for long and fast rides.
Surf conditions at Nai Harn beach are best suited for beginner to intermediate surfers. You’ll need to arrange to bring your own boards here, as there are no surfboard rentals or lessons available.
Quiet and tranquil, Nai Harn Beach is among the most popular places for locals. This is mostly because, being in a narrow, hill-lined cove, there isn’t much space for too many hotels. The geography creates an excellent harbor and offers visitors a cool choice of tiny beaches and coves such as Ya Nui and Ao Sane, making Nai Harn especially popular with sailors as well as snorkelers and divers.
The area has a steady pace, with some great local restaurants but very few shops or other attractions apart from the splendid panoramas offered at Promthep Cape and Windmill Viewpoint. Nai Harn Beach is, therefore, the best place for enjoying a relaxing stay in natural surroundings without being totally isolated.
Who’s it for:
- Beach and nature lovers
- 3 beautiful beaches and 1 lagoon
- Amazing viewpoints
- Great snorkeling and diving from December to April
- Good surfing and kite surfing from May to November
- Peaceful environment
What’s not so good:
- Very little shopping and nightlife entertainment
- Limited fine-dining options
- A long drive from the airport
2. Kata Beach
Kata Beach is the best-known surfing beach in Phuket, with most wave-riding action at its southern end near The Boathouse resort. Surfers should be able to find decent waves here at any tide level, but conditions are best at mid-tide.
Beginner to advanced surfers will enjoy surfing here, and while Kata can get busy it’s rarely overcrowded. Board rental is available from a few shops at the beach and those looking to learn or improve their skills can sign up for lessons at one of the surf schools.
Kata Noi is a tiny bay separated from Kata Beach by a headland with some good surfing action at its northern end. The waves here can be quite fast and are usually more powerful than those at the more popular Kata Beach. Katathani Resort takes up most of the land fringing Kata Noi’s beautiful soft white sands but there’s public access from the road. There’s no surf school here, but you can easily find surf lessons and board rental at nearby Kata.
4. Kalim Beach
This small beach on a rocky headland just north of Patong Beach is a great little spot for surfing, with waves up to 3 metres high. A shallow coral right-hand reef break offers nice long rides of 50 to 100 metres. It’s best to go at high or mid-tide as exposed rocks at low tide could make your ride hazardous.
Kalim is more suitable for intermediate to advanced surfers. There are no board rental places directly on Kalim, but you’ll find some along the beach at nearby Patong.
5. Kamala Beach
Kamala Beach offers some consistent breaks and a sheltered bay good for surfers of all levels of experience. There are surfable waves at various points along the beach, with some of the best at the northern end near the Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach resort. More advanced surfers like to head out to the point break near the southern end.
Surfboard rental is available at a few shops along the beach. Kamala’s also great for surfers who want to break up their day of riding the waves to enjoy some dining and drinks on the beachfront, with Café del Mar beach club and several restaurants lining the sands.
THE “Real” Thailand
The provincial capital and largest urban area of the island, Phuket Town’s narrow streets are filled with great restaurants, boutique shops and unique attractions. This is the ideal location for people who want every day of their vacation to be different; filled with new discoveries and new experiences.
The town has absorbed many aspects of the varying cultures that have called it home over the centuries, making it also a place of beautiful historical designs and features. Being the hub of local life, Phuket Town is probably the best place to get the “real Thailand” experience on the island and there are regular local markets to explore.
Who’s it for:
- People interested in history and culture
- Local food lovers
- People who like market shopping
- Beautiful historical Old Town
- Real local atmosphere
- Great affordable dining
- Several local markets, especially at the weekends
- Charming affordable hotels
What’s not so good:
- A long way from Phuket’s best beaches
- Traffic is intense at rush hour
- Quiet on weekday nights
This west-coast resort town is best known for just one street – Bangla Road – which is the densest concentration of bars and clubs anywhere in Phuket and is the island’s primary nightlife destination. This is surrounded by a large number of hotels, ranging from budget guesthouses to small resorts. The picturesque coast road heading north towards Kamala takes advantage of the great sunset views by offering a more luxurious experience, but at the cost of being further from the party. There are also a number of excellent restaurants, countless shops, several cultural attractions and various activities to enjoy in the area.
Who’s it for:
- Budget-conscious vacationers
- People who love to party
- People who like a busy and lively beach
- People who want to be centrally-located and want everything in one place
- Phuket’s most exciting nightlife
- Great shopping opportunities
- Lots of interesting things to see and do
- Massive choice of restaurants
- Beautiful nearby beaches
What’s not so good:
- Always busy
- Nightlife can be a little extreme and overwhelming
- Not many traditional Thai touches