Phuket's best family beaches

Phuket's best family beaches

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As Thailand’s largest island, Phuket has several sandy beaches that kids bearing buckets and spades will love to visit, but some are better than others. Our ideal family beach has shallow waters and shade, child-friendly activities and easy access to food and drink. With these considerations in mind, here are our top picks for the most family-friendly beaches in Phuket.

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Lots of space to throw a frisbee at Kata's north end.

Lots of space to throw a frisbee at Kata’s north end.

With fine white sand and a shallow bay, Kata beach on Phuket’s southwest coast has long been a big draw for families. Club Med occupies most of the land approaching the beach but a public road separates this big resort from the sands and allows for easy access.

Older kids can catch some waves here in the wetter months of May through October, and surf shops along the beach offer surf and boogie board rental and instruction. Kata is a hive of activity for vendors, which some may find a nuisance, but for those with hungry children the roving food seller with fried rice, sandwiches and fresh coconut water can be a godsend.

Kata beach can get crowded during the peak season months of December through April, but the section of the beach north of Club Med tends to be less crowded with broad sands offering plenty of running around space. At the south end are a cluster of open-air restaurants, while many more dining spots are found within an easy walk inland from the sands.

Easy to find a patch of sand for the family along Nai Harn's 1km stretch.

Easy to find a patch of sand for the family along Nai Harn’s kilometre-long stretch.

Found at the island’s southern tip, Nai Harn beach has a wide stretch of sand and a more local, laid-back atmosphere than some of Phuket’s busier resort beaches. The beach is lined with rental sun beds, and set under towering casuarina trees just back from the beach is a row of casual open-air seafood restaurants.

If kids tire of the beach it’s an easy walk across the road to the Nai Harn lagoon, a popular spot for picnics with a children’s play park with swings and slides. Families also gravitate towards the channel connecting the lagoon and sea, which offers a safer place to swim if sea conditions are too rough.

Surf shops and wide sands at Kamala's quieter northern section.

Surf shops and wide sands at Kamala’s quieter northern section.

Kamala beach on the west coast between Patong and Surin beaches has a shallow, sandy bay and, like Kata beach, plenty of food and activity choices including banana boat rides and massages are offered right at the beach.

The new Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach resort at the north end of the beach has diminished its formerly secluded feel, but overall the scene here remains peaceful. Standup paddle and surfboard rentals are available at Skyla’s Beach House nearby.

Plenty to do at Bangtao's busier southern side.

Plenty to do at Bangtao’s busier southern side.

Further north is Bangtao beach, an eight-kilometre length of fine sands that offers the most variety of all the family-friendly beaches of Phuket. Most of the central part of Bangtao is taken up by Laguna Phuket, a complex of seven luxury resorts including the Banyan Tree, a golf course, spas and leisure facilities.

If you’re looking for a resort experience without having to shell out for the price of a room, a family day pass is available at Angsana Laguna for 4,700 baht, which includes lunch for two adults and two children at the resort’s poolside restaurant and access to its swimming pools, kids’ club and water sports activities.

Serenity on the sands. Bangtao's northern end has a more isolated feel.

Serenity on the sands. Bangtao’s northern end has a more isolated feel.

At Bangtao’s south end are smaller resorts, a few upscale beach clubs and a sprinkling of rustic restaurants. Skyla’s operates a surf hut next to Bliss Beach Club where families may rent surf and SUP boards and take lessons. North of the Banyan Tree is Bangtao’s most peaceful section, where the sands are mostly sun-bed free and there are only a few low-key local restaurants including the Reggae Bar.

These four well-known Phuket beaches are unlikely to satisfy families seeking adventure, but they’re all fine spots to simply relax and enjoy a day out in the sun and sea. For something a bit more off the beaten track, our favourites are Ao Sane, Ao Yon and the beautiful Banana beach.

Reviewed by

Lana Willocks is a freelance writer from Canada based in Phuket. Her love affair with Thailand 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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