Beach Con­fi­den­tial

LUXE City Guides - Phuket - - Bars -

Phuket’s beaches far out­weigh its gor­geous ri­val Bali’s. ALL sands on the isle are pub­lic prop­erty (hur­rah!), though some are more dif­fi­cult to reach than oth­ers (via boats, bushes, wind­ing paths, ho­tel lob­bies etc.). Here’s what we’re lov­ing...

On the is­land it­self, the west coast has the pick of the crop. Start­ing from the top, there’s Mai Khao Beach, with 11kms of largely de­serted, tree-lined, tur­tle-favoured love­li­ness and Marine Na­tional Park, and home to the JW Mar­riott, should you feel pecky or in need of pam­per­ing. Below it is Nai Thon Beach, again of­ten de­serted; the south­ern ap­proach has some of the is­land’s only re­main­ing vir­gin jun­gle, plus sexy UP Beach Club (see Lunch). Fur­ther down is the lovely el­lip­ti­cal Pansea Beach, shared by Aman­puri and Surin Phuket (see Ac­com. for both), whose Beach Restau­rant is pop­u­lar in sea­son, so you can toast n’ roast all at once. Fur­ther south, pop your towel on funky lit­tle Laem Singh Beach, com­plete with sea­sonal lounge bar (see Bars/Laem Singh Lounge). Be­tween the hideously com­mer­cialised Pa­tong and Karon Beaches lies Free­dom Beach, only reach­able by boat and gain­ing quite a fol­low­ing. Se­cluded lit­tle Nui Beach south of Kata Noi is ac­ces­si­ble both­by­boat­fromKata Noiandby jeep. Take a pic­nic. Nai Harn at the south­ern end of the is­land is a fave in high sea­son for moor­ing up and dip­ping in, thank­fully there are no jet­skis here. Take care when swim­ming at any of th­ese beaches May-Oct as there are strong un­der­tows.

Fur­ther away, but not far by boat, the fol­low­ing set of sandy lovelies de­serve your at­ten­tion. You can hop off for a day/lunch, overnight aboard your boat, or spend the night on the is­lands them­selves. Bliss. Get your sea-legs in style by char­ter­ing a choice ves­sel (see Wa­ter Ac­tiv­i­ties).

Leg­endary James Bond lo­ca­tion Phang Nga Bay can also sadly at times leave you shaken by the boat le­gions of tourist crowds rather than stirred by its beauty, but you can avoid them and get a stag­ger­ing bird’s-eye view by zoom­ing over­head in style (see Land Ac­tiv­i­ties/Desti­na­tion Air) or stay­ing at wow-tas­tic Naka Is­land re­sort (see Ac­com.). Koh Phi Phi is home to the Thai-luxe, but ser­vice-starved Zeav­ola Ho­tel / 075 627 000 / zeav­ola.com; while the sleepy lit­tle isles of Koh Racha and Koh Lanta are chokka with co­conut palms and peace aplenty, and the places to go to find the con­tempo, edgy-min­i­mal stylista Costa Lanta / 075 668 186 / costa­lanta.com, and post­colo­nial belle The Racha / 076 355 455 / ther­acha.com. The Sim­i­lan Is­lands of­fer spec­tac­u­lar snorkelling, div­ing and scenery in spades, and Krabi, al­though not an is­land, boasts the lush Thai jun­gle-meets-beach hide­away Rayavadee / 075 620 740 / rayavadee.com, and the oh-so plush beach princess Ritz-Carl­ton Re­serve in Phu­lay Bay / 075 628 111 / re­serve.ritz­carl­ton.com / com­plete with Espa, pri­vate but­lers and all that jazz, which are rea­son enough to go. And at Koh Yao Noi is the serene, rus­tic hill­top es­cape Six Senses Hide­away / 076 418 500 / sixsenses.com. Bliss!

So, Flo, what are you wait­ing for? Pop on those slinky mata­dor pants, get on a boat, get out there and en­joy!

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