Phuket, a Marine Playground

Phuket is a beautiful island off the west coast of Thailand. Surrounded by the Andaman Sea, the Phuket archipelago features some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in Asia and has long been a major tourist destination. As sailing and cruising are becoming increasingly popular it is now evolving into one of the region’s major hubs for visiting yachts and cruisers and, after significant investment, it now boasts four full-service marinas with berths for superyachts alongside standard yachts and cruisers.

The improved facilities have been a boon for the local charter industry too where numerous providers are developing an excellent reputation in the luxury cruiser and yacht charter market.

The sailing grounds around Phuket, or within easy reach, are as numerous as they are spectacular. Favourite day-trip destinations include the stunning Phang Nga Bay with its 42 tiny islands and needle-like limestone outcrops. Equally as popular are Racha, Khai and the Similan Islands, whose crystal clear waters and abundant marine life have earned a reputation as some of the best dive sites in Asia.

But for many, the most appealing and definitely one of the most striking destinations in the region, is the Phi Phi Islands to the southeast. Immortalised by Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach, as you approach the island it rises from the sea like a mighty castle. Towering limestone cliffs and lush jungle frame some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, including the picture-perfect Maya Bay. Where, hemmed in by precipitous cliffs, the clear and shallow turquoise sea gently caresses the rocky outcrops and the bay’s sun-drenched silky white sands.

Back on Phuket, the quieter resorts are found at Kamala and Karong Beaches, whilst those seeking an ultra laidback experience head to the 7-kilometer long Bangtao Beach. With mid-range hotels to the south and centre supported by a range of beach bars and bistros it’s comparatively undeveloped; further north the beach boasts prestigious properties offering five-star luxury and tranquillity.

At the other end of the noise spectrum is the popular and hectic resort town of Patong with its long sweeping beach filled with hotels, cafes, restaurants and bars that remain open well into the night. The renowned party scene, with its neon lights, dancers, bars, nightclubs and massage parlours can be found in the town centred along Bangla Road.

From the serenity of sailing the tropical seas, to the raucous nightlife of Patong, Phuket truly offers something for everyone and with its own international airport and direct regional flights, getting there is easy. For more information about other wonderful destinations in Thailand, visit its excellent website.