Krabi’s coast is renowned for its limestone karsts that rise out of the sea, providing natural protection for its lagoons and bays, resulting in calm, clear waters ideal for swimming. Often compared to Halong Bay, the white sandy beaches enjoy a backdrop of lush, tropical forest. It’s an ideal island for lazy days at the beach, soaking up the sun and the sand, perhaps taking a trip by a longtail boat to visit one of the limestone islands for a picnic lunch.
One of our favorite beaches here is Phra Nang Beach with its velvety sands accessed by longtail boat, about a 20-minute ride from Ao Nang. Between May and December, you can rent a kayak, paddling around the limestone caves and karsts, or snorkel among coral reefs in the shallow water. While you’re here, look for the unusual phallus shrine embedded in the cliffs.
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Thailand’s largest island sits off the west coast just across from more tranquil Krabi. It has its own international airport that makes it easy for holidaymakers to enjoy a beach escape when they’re short on time. Despite the development, it still offers some fabulous unspoiled beaches to discover, including Pansea Beach, with just two hotels along the entire bay, built in a way to prevent further development. It spans more than 1,300 feet along the island’s west coast, just north of idyllic Surin Beach, separated by a small rocky cape. Pansea is lined with coconut palms, exotic trees, and vegetation, with both ends providing outstanding snorkeling.
Freedom Beach boasts some of the finest white sands in Phuket – as it’s a little more difficult to reach, accessed via a steep footpath down a hill or by longtail boat, it keeps the big crowds away. There are no wandering vendors, jet skis or parasailers, making it wonderfully tranquil, providing the feel of an isolated desert island. No matter which beaches you visit, Phuket is generally best experienced from around mid-October through April when the sea is at its calmest of the year.