Nai Yang Beach in Phuket

Nai Yang Beach in Phuket. (Photo: DoctorEgg / Moment)

Beach Travel

How to Find Phuket’s Lesser-Known Beaches

Often known as the Pearl of the Andaman, Thailand’s largest island has drawn generations of travelers to its coastline.

Phuket was once a crucial trading port for Portuguese, Peranakan, Dutch and English merchants, but today it lures voyagers with the promise of sugar-sand beaches and swaying coconut palm trees. The fact that its sun-drenched shores are a breezy 1.5-hour flight from Bangkok makes them especially enticing.

While Phuket may be an immensely popular getaway, there are still plenty of hidden corners on the island for those who know where to look. After admiring the historic Sino-Portuguese architecture and feasting on seafood in Phuket Town, leave the crowds behind and head to these unspoiled stretches of sand.

Nai Yang Beach

Sirinat National Park in the north of Phuket shields a sizable portion of Nai Yang Beach’s honey-hued sands from development, meaning the shoreline here looks much the same as it has for decades. Sea turtles still occasionally lay their eggs here, and local families often stop by on weekends for picnics.

Despite its location near Phuket International Airport, most tourists drive right by this beach without realizing it. For those hoping to bask in the sun and enjoy the quiet life, Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach offers stylish rooms, suites and villas overlooking the Andaman Sea.

Hua Beach

While the sand here may not be as powder soft as at other beaches, the turquoise waters are every bit as lovely. Hua Beach faces due north and has the distinction of being a stone’s throw from the so-called Millionaire’s Mile, a string of lavish private mansions, villas and resorts. Visitors here can enjoy the same stunning views as the one-percenters, without having to spend a penny.

Hua lies just before the better-known Kamala Beach as you’re headed north on Phuket Island away from Patong Beach.

Kalim Beach

Kalim Beach Phuket
Kalim Beach in Phuket. (Photo: bigmaker / 500Px Plus)

After squeezing through the throngs of sun worshippers on Patong and Kamala beaches, it might be hard to imagine that a peaceful haven exists right around the corner. Kalim Beach is located just north of Patong, and smaller than its flashy neighbors. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in solitude. When you need to get away from it all, simply stroll over to this somnolent shore.

Merlin Beach

Snorkelers will be in heaven in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the reef directly off of this private beach. Since guests at the Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Merlin Beach have exclusive access to the area, you’ll never have to fight for a sun lounger.

As the waves recede, wander out to the exposed tidal pools, which host all manner of crustaceans, minnows and sea cucumbers.

Nui Beach

nui beach phuket
Nui Beach in Phuket. (Photo: ImpossiAble /Moment)

A sheltered cove surrounded on all sides by emerald foliage, Nui Beach more than merits the 1.8-mile drive through the jungle necessary to reach it — keep an eye out for the turn just south of the Kata-Karon Viewpoint, on the road linking the Kata and Nai Harn beaches. Once there, order a chilled coconut or a Tiki cocktail from the beach club, pop on your sunnies and soak in some solar rays on one of the most picturesque spots on the whole island.

Laemka Beach

Venture to the east coast of the island to find this sliver of palm-fringed sand. Unless you know where to go, Laemka Beach, in the very south of Phuket near Rawai, is tricky to find from the main roads. If you’re driving south, down Wiset Road, turn left on Soi Lamkayai, just past a 7-Eleven, and continue on to this splendid little beach.

During the high season, you may spot a vendor or two selling snacks, while during the low season, you might be lucky enough to have the whole place to yourself. On clear days, the silhouette of Koh Lan, a nearby rocky island, is visible in the distance.

Banana Beach

Banana Beach Phuket
Banana Beach in Phuket. (Photo: MosayMay /iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Nicknamed for its crescent shape and golden sands, Banana Beach is a piece of postcard-worthy perfection located on Koh Hey, or Coral Island, just off the coast of Phuket. You’ll need to grab a speedboat at Chalong Pier to reach it, but the half-hour ride is incredibly scenic.

Since much of Koh Hey is protected by a national park, there’s virtually no development on the island. The primary exception is a cheery bamboo restaurant serving Thai comfort food right by the beach.