Explorations of Land and Sea
- Key Details
- Cultural Discoveries
- Explorations of Land and Sea
- A Gourmand’s Paradise
In the Jungle
Khao Phra Taew Wildlife Park
Strap on your shoes and take a light hike past hidden waterfalls, stopping to watch a barking deer sip from a stream. Overhead, monkeys pass from tree to tree. Phuket’s gorgeous Khao Phra Taew Wildlife Park hosts a virgin forest with lush jungle, vivid greenery, creeping vines, and huge trees. The temperate climate is the perfect habitat for the native bears, wild boar and gibbons. Follow a well-marked trail, stretching 8km and connecting Bang Pae Waterfall, the largest on Phuket, to Ton Sai Waterfall. The forest is the ideal setting for elephant trekking, a new perspective on the island’s natural beauty from atop Thailand’s most famed animal. Learn how to “drive” the elephants with a gentle tap behind the ears, and ask the mahout, or elephant guide, to teach you how to communicate with them! The forest is also perfect for mountain biking, a full-throttle adventure down slopes and through thick jungle of bamboo and forest greenery. Local guides can plan an itinerary for you, whether you’d like to explore by hiking, trekking or biking.
Sirinath Marine National ParkAnantara Resort Phuket is set next to a beautiful and sheltered National Park along the northwest and quieter end of Phuket. Stroll along the tranquil shores of Mai Khao, Nai Thon and Nai Yang beaches. Mai Khao Beach hosts a wildlife reserve, the site for four rare turtle species that arrive to nest between November and February each year. Explore the nearby mangrove forest, the sea’s natural ‘bodyguard’, which filters heavy metals from water, preventing erosion and hosting a diverse array of wildlife. The forests are best explored by canoe, where you can take incredible pictures up close. Explore the park and chat with the knowledgeable staff at the Park Visitors Centre at Nai Yang Beach, where the local experts can speak about the ecosystem and direct you to the best snorkel and dive sites in the coral reefs, starting a mere 700 metres from the shore.
Powder-soft sand, reefs within swimming distance of the shore. Sunshine and a fresh cocktail, delivered to your lounger. Phuket’s western coast is ideal for swimming year-round, with water that averages 28ºC (82ºF). But as with any beach, Phuket’s shores sometimes experience rip tides, or a strong surface flow of water. While these tides assist surfers, they’re very dangerous for swimming. Look out for any red flags and do not enter the water during a rip tide. Otherwise, kick back and dive into an aquatic paradise.
Along the Boardwalk
If you’re looking to explore the more raucous side of Phuket, the island’s beach scene is most flavourful along Patong, Kata and Karon. These high-profile beaches have droves of sunbathers, buzzing jet-skis and yachts. Be prepared to forgo some privacy, as food vendors, henna artists and masseuses will all be duelling for your attention – and Thai Baht.
One of the best coral reefs within swimming distance of Phuket is along Kata Beach, just north of Club Med. On a cloudless day, the sun can reach depths of 15 metres. Keep on the lookout, for it’s not uncommon to spot a sea turtle, weaving between the reefs. Just take care to not touch the coral! Besides causing irreparable damage to coral, you might encounter the stonefish, a camouflaged bottom-dwelling fish with a painful sting.
Many other retreats in Phuket offer serenity, beautiful landscape and ideal swimming grounds. Nai Harn Beach to the south is a charming beach along a narrow strip of sand, known for its sweeping, picture perfect coast. Another gorgeous beach, though quieter, is Laem Singh Beach, tucked between Kamala and Surin beaches. The bay can only be accessed by a steep trail; however, the beach is well worth the effort, and you’ll feel like you’re really getting off the beaten path.
Just behind the back holes of the Banyan Tree Golf Club, Layan Beach is a pearl of a beach, known mainly for its romantic geography. Set in a little curvature of land, the bay is protected by a coconut-tree-clad island, wonderful for exploring. Finish a round of golf and head to the beach for a soak in the sun.
Pon Beach, called Nai Yair by the locals, is just past Nakalay beach, and is set between private and luxurious villas. The beach is a good indication of why these individuals built their dream residences here. The sand, powdery and fine, makes for ideal lounging and relaxing. Look before you dive into the waters – the water is better for snorkeling than swimming, since rocks line the shore. Explore at low-tide, when the waters recede and reveal ocean creatures.
Nai Yang Beach, set along a curving coast, this beach is blessed with gorgeous view.