When I start beaching around…-A A +A
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
HOW can I not fall in love with this island with a shoreline that stretches for kilometers? Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand after all, the “hill” as its name translates, and it is surrounded with fantastic beaches that anyone can bask in the sun for days.
Contrary to what I have been told that three days is enough in Phuket, it is not. Maybe they haven’t really gotten the chance to explore what the island has to offer and got confined in Patong Town, where they decided to stay since it is the busiest, probably it was recommended. Or, they didn’t have anyone like Yashee, a friend who decided to live in the island, who would knows the “local scene” – best dining places unknown to tourists, deserted beaches to enjoy, bars where the islanders prefer to hang-out, etc.
But form one beach to another is quite a distance and transportation, rented car or motorcycle, is the best way to go around. Distance and time may be relative, say a 20-minute drive or 20 kilometers may be short for some but long for others. Since I prefer to walk, anything more than five kilometers is far. Therefore, it is best to enjoy the beaches one day at a time.
Patong Beach aka Hat Patong is fifteen kilometers from Phuket town and is the most developed beach in the island. Just like any other highly touristy destination, Patong’s three-kilometer stretch of shoreline is filled with sun chairs almost reaching the water (quite common in any popular Thailand beaches) and the road across is flanked with hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and other tourist attractions. At daytime, the beach is the go-to spot to tan, swim and engage in watersport activities. The northern end of the beach, called Kalim, is a popular surfing spot during the second and third quarter of the year as well as a favorite area to catch the sunset. When night falls, the beachfront is ablaze with flashing neon signs as the town comes alive, most especially the area by Soi Bangla, watering holes open up, shopping (another popular offering of the area) becomes more enticing.
Karon Beach aka Hat Karon, 20 kilometers (12 mi) from Phuket town, is considered as the second largest of Phuket's tourist beaches. Though there are tourist developments that line the road from across the beachfront—resort complexes, restaurants, souvenir shops, the broad shoreline is devoid of any developments. For underwater explorers, there is a coral reef at the southern part of the beach that stretches toward Kata and Bu Island. There is also its sister beach called Karon Noi.
Kamala Beach aka Hat Kamala, located ten miles north of Patong beach, is a large undeveloped beach where you will definitely have your own personal space, during the low season that is (that’s when I visited. High season can be busy I was told). Whether you prefer to have fun on or under the sea, this beach is for you. Kamala is a nice place to surf during the low season and the northern part of the beach where there are coral reefs will make for a good snorkeling spot.
Nai Harn is my favorite beach not only because it is a short walk from where my host, Yashee, lives but also for its “unpopularity”, so to speak, that even during the high season, the beach never gets too crowded. Located at the southern part of the island, a 20-minute drive from Patong Beach, Nai Harn is one of the favorite beaches of the locals—Thais and expats. The view and vibe of the beach on all sides is all about nature—the blue sea and the lush green of the mountains sandwich Nai Harn’s gorgeous stretch of sand, a far cry from the busy and concrete jungle-flanked shorelines of Patong and Karon. One of this spot’s unique features is the large inland lagoon where at the southern end the water flows out to a natural pool where the freshwater meets the seawater making one of the most beautiful beaches in Phuket.
Nai Yang is closer to the airport, about a five-minute drive due south, and is very popular with Thai locals. This area defines the beach life—laid-back vibe, a shoreline bordered with trees offering shade ideal for picnicking, lounging or vending food. Parts of the beach are within the Sirinath National Park.
For a beach lover like me, seven days is not enough to enjoy Phuket’s beaches to its fullest. I may be finding my way back to the island sometime soon, and this time, the visit Phi phi and the other beaches in the neighboring province will happen, right Yashee?
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 24, 2013.