A trio of tiny Phuket beaches

What we say: 3.5 stars

Phuket is known for having kilometres-long beaches along its west coast, but sprinkled in between the main beaches are some wee stretches of sand that offer some scenic alternatives. Three of Phuket’s cosiest little beaches are Laemka, Ao Sane and Ya Nui at the island’s southern end.

Ya Nui: soft sands and some rocks to scramble over.

Ya Nui: soft sands and some rocks to scramble over.

Just down the hill from Cape Promthep between Rawai and Nai Harn beaches sits Ya Nui beach. A steep hill rises from one end of this white-sand beach, while a small rocky cape juts out from its centre. During the monsoon months of May through October Ya Nui can have a deserted feel, but it’s now getting crowded through the peak season months, lined with dozens of sun beds.

The one restaurant here is quite good, and vendor stands along the sands offer kayak rental, snorkelling equipment, food and drinks. Across the road from the beach are a few places to stay.

The happy sands of Laemka beach.

The happy sands of Laemka beach.

Laemka beach is a small cove found at the end of a soi just north of Rawai beach. The road leading there, Soi Laemka Yai, offers one of those ‘Yay, I’m in the tropics!’ kind of scenes as it juts through a plantation of towering coconut palms. Some parking is available at the end of the road, and the beach is reached via concrete steps down to the sands. The remnants of a defunct restaurant and bungalow operation add a bit of dereliction to the otherwise green tropical scene, but it doesn’t appear these will be restored or taken down anytime soon.

A few vendors have set up drink stands and sun beds but there’s no pressure to rent or buy anything here. Mornings at Laemka are especially quiet, since in the afternoons the occasional speedboat tour rolls in to disturb the peace. With shallow, calm waters, Laemka is a great spot for kids or for those searching for a place to park themselves in the shade for a few restful hours.

Ao Sane, worth the little extra drive past Nai Harn.

Ao Sane, worth the extra effort to reach.

It’s a slightly subversive path to the sands of Ao Sane beach, but well worth the trouble. Ao Sane is found just beyond Nai Harn beach, along a narrow road accessed only by cutting through the car park of the Royal Phuket Yacht Club five-star resort. About a kilometre down the road there’s a small clearing for parking, then the first section of the beach is easily reached with a quick walk down the hill.

Ao Sane’s sand is mostly broken bits of coral, not as fine and white as those of nearby Nai Harn, but the sea is calm and snorkelling is great around the rocks just offshore. Ao Sane Bungalows rents out basic bungalows and a few sun beds, and it’s the only place to dine on this patch of sand. Those seeking a few added comforts could try the Baan Krating resort a bit further along the road over a rickety bridge.

Enjoy a snorkelfest around Ao Sane's rocks.

Enjoy a snorkelfest around Ao Sane’s rocks.

Though none of these small Phuket beaches could be considered ‘hidden gems’ any longer, they’re just out of the fray enough to retain a local, low-key kind of vibe. Each are best visited using your own wheels, though it’s possible to walk to both Laemka and Ya Nui from Rawai beach and Ao Sane from Nai Harn. Songthaew bus service is available at both Rawai and Nai Harn to and from Phuket Town during daylight hours.

Last updated: 18th September, 2014

About the author:
Lana Willocks is a freelance writer from Canada based in Phuket. Her love affair with Thailand (and, ok, a Thai man) began on a university exchange programme in Bangkok, then she returned to Phuket on the auspicious date of 9-9-1999 and never left.
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