There’s much more to this much-loved Thai isle than sunbathing, spas and snorkelling…
Paddle across the Andaman
Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boarding is a good way to avoid the crowds and see the best of a coastal destination and it’s a great cardio workout, too. Try Paddle Phuket (paddlephuket.com), which offers trips to nearby islands or out to the still waters of a local river. Sunset, mangrove and deserted beach tours are among the options.
Love yoga? With Talay Surf (talaysurf.com), you can combine SUP with yoga and feel the soothing waves of the ocean as you strike a pose on your board. The Adventure tour includes exploring a fishing bay and snorkelling round a reef at a private beach.
SUP lessons with SSS Phuket (sssphuket.com) take places at Kata Beach, and you can also hire the boards if you’ve already mastered this skill. If currents allow, there’s the chance to visit Ko Puh island. If you’re serious about mastering SUP, there are three, five and 10-day camp packages with lessons in the morning and the afternoon.
Another good option is Phuket Surfing (phuketsurfing.com), which also offers tuition from Kata Beach. Lessons are tailored to your ability, so if you’ve already tried SUP before, the instructors are on hand to help you explore further afield.
Hit the beach clubs
Swap the beach towel for a swanky sofa
There’s a branch of the iconic Ibiza chill-out club Café Del Mar (phuket.cafedelmar.com) at Kamala Beach, where large day beds shaded by palm trees cluster around the swimming pool. International DJ’s regularly swing by, and it does brunch and Sunday roasts.
Another good spot on Kamala is Pine Beach Bar at the Intercontinental Phuket Resort (phuket.intercontinental.com). Start the day with a healthy breakfast bowl, lunch or dinner on pizza and stay to see the sunset and nightly fire show.
With a 35m pool and swim-up bar right on Bang Tao beach, Xana Beach Club (angsana.com) at the Angsana Laguna Beach Resort has an eclectic menu that includes everything from sandwiches, burgers and wraps to local dishes like bua thod (deep-fried betel leaves with prawn served with tamarind). There’s also a rooftop bar for sundowners.
The only beach club on Karon, Coast (coast-beach-club.com) is part of the Centara hotel and features large sofas to lounge on near the sand. Snack on sliders and dine on local seafood before sipping on a sundowner cocktail: we like the sound of the prescription ice tea and the lychee Martini.
Get acquainted with old school Phuket
Those looking for more than the beach and the pool in Phuket need to explore the old Town with its charming Sino-Portuguese architecture and colourful, well-preserved shophouses. Turn back the clock 120 years with a visit to Baan Chinpracha, originally built by an old tin baron, where an inner courtyard and colourful tiled floors await.
Want to escape the tourist crowds but still see some temples? Then forget the Big Buddha, which looms over southern Phuket, and the popular Chalong temple and get along to Wat Khao Rang and admire its seated golden Buddha, or Wat Phra Thing, which is home to a half-buried Buddha statue.
Other historic spots include the Thai Hua Museum, which dates back to 1911 and was a formerly a Chinese language school. It includes displays on the Chinese in Phuket and recounts how the island became a powerful trading centre.
Built in 1907, the Phuket Baba Museum is housed in a former Peranakan-style bank building that’s an attraction in itself and is topped by colonial-style clock tower. There is traditional furniture, Nyonya clothing and jewellery on display.