Phuket is one of Thailand’s biggest tourist destinations. Every year, millions of tourists arrive and usually head straight in one direction: to one of the island’s ultra-popular west coast beaches like Patong, Kata or Karon.
The beaches on Phuket’s western coastline are popular for a reason: they’re really nice (with the exception of Patong, which is just too developed at this point to be a nice place to relax). But while they’re easy to access and extremely popular, they’re far from the best beaches on the island.
Ask the average Phuket expat which beaches are the island’s best and they’ll point you towards one of the amazingly beautiful beaches in the north. Mai Khao Beach, Kamala and other spots north of Patong are admittedly nice, but they’re a little bit boring if you’re aged under 50 and want to enjoy Phuket as both a beautiful and exciting destination.
A good alternative to the west coast beaches is Nai Harn — a smaller beach on the south coast of Phuket famous for its rough waves. Nai Harn is Phuket’s equivalent of a surf beach — which is to say that it’s a surf beach with small to mid-sized waves. It’s also a really beautiful beach that’s mostly undeveloped and only attracts a fraction as many tourists as the ultra-popular Patong and Kata to the north.
Getting to Nai Harn Beach is pretty simple. You can either take a tuk-tuk from almost anywhere on the island (be prepared to pay 500+ baht from Patong) or rent a scooter and make your way there on your own. It’s an exciting ride from Patong, with lots of sweeping bends and beautiful sea views. If you’re an experienced motorcyclist, it can be a lot of fun — if you’re not, if can be a little scary.
A better option, especially if you want a quiet vacation, is to just stay on Nai Harn Beach in the first place. There are plenty of nice resorts and hotels around the beach with high-end suites and cheap rooms alike available. Since Nai Harn is less popular than Patong and Kata, it’s also a much cheaper part of the island to stay in.
So — that’s it! If you’re searching for a nice beach on Phuket and want to avoid the usual suspects (Patong, Karon and Kata) then visiting Nai Harn is a great way to see Phuket as it was 10-20 years ago, before it developed into the massively overvisited tourist destination it is in many ways today.