What are the best islands to visit near Phuket?
The stunning islands to visit around Phuket are one of my favorite beach getaways in Thailand, and it’s one of the top vacation places where I essentially want to go back for my next beach holiday.
A day trip to Phuket islands pretty much offers it all, from breathtaking natural settings, crystal blue oceans to fine sandy shoreline amidst swaying coconut trees.
I’ve visited Phuket several times and each time I try to locate an island paradise. Tropical honeymoon destinations to the Sardinia islands may be for romantics but visiting exotic islands in Phuket are totally amazing.
The Surin group of islands is one of the most beautiful archipelago and getting there takes a little bit of patience. These group of islands near Phuket beach are awesome and it takes a bit of patience to be in paradise.
Similan islands gazette a national park is the most popular scuba diving location. This favorite beach vacation spot closes every year from May 16th to October 15th because of the monsoons season. So, scroll down and check out the best time to visit these islands.
When to visit Phuket Islands?
Phuket is a provincial island roughly the size of Singapore and can be categorized into 2 seasons which are Dry and Rainy/Wet. The Andaman Islands has 3 particular season but November to March is the prime time for tourists to flock into this beach paradise.
The islands are influenced by the rain-drenched southwest monsoon from May to October and the sunny days of northeast monsoon in November triggering the high Phuket holidays season.
At an average temperature of 30°C with breezy days and cool nights, humidity levels are kept in check for all activities. December to early April is the high season where the waters are clear and the winds are quite calm.
The rainy monsoon season comes early on this western side of Thailand, arriving end of May until October. But don’t get dishearten as this period is a good time to visit the islands near Phuket with less crowds.
Other than these months, the rest gets short and torrential downpours mostly around noon. Nevertheless, the Andaman is one of the best islands getaways to visit all year round, rain or shine.
Don't leave Phuket before trying this famous local food
One of Phuket’s top places for local dishes is Lock Tien, an outdoor eatery in the center of the Old Town. Nevertheless, the real star of the show is the bouncy yellow egg noodles that serve as the dish’s foundation.
A bowl of this sumptuous noodles comes with slices of tender barbecued red pork, lightly blanched squid, and crunchy Chinese cabbage covered in a rich smoky gravy made from the owner’s secret soy sauce and pork broth.
Island Hopping from Phuket
Experiencing the breathtaking natural beauty of the turquoise waters, green-clad limestone islands, and fantastic snorkeling spots are pretty much possible by island-hopping from Phuket.
How to go on islands hopping that would fit your day trip schedule? Your tour usually starts early in the morning (standard practice in Thailand) with stops along the way to pick-up other guests en route to Phuket pier.
To avoid all the hassle, schedule a private boat excursion with an island hopping day trip and pay an additional fee to tailor-made the itinerary including meals on board.
I’m sure you know where I’m headed with all this. If you adore beach getaways, keep reading to learn about my 5 best vacation spots to bounce around the islands in Phuket in a day.
1. Phi Phi Islands
A trip to the southern eastern small islands near Phuket are the best off-beat beaches to explore.
Koh Khai Nook, Ko Lon, Ko Mai, Ko Racha, Ko Yao, James Bond Island are some of the best offshore beaches with spectacular coral forest, limestone caves and super clear waters for sea activities.
One of the most popular cove in Phi Phi is Maya Bay, which was made famous in Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie “The Beach” in 1999. I recommend going early in the morning to beat the crowds.
The next stop I would suggest is Loh Samah Bay, a “knockout” lagoon which is a very scenic and a bit more low-key.
Compared to Maya Bay which allows for more privacy and secluded beach, the pristine waters of the lagoon is perfect for snorkeling and swimming.
2. Koh Khai Islands
The last time I passed by these gorgeous group of islands on a speedboat, I made a brief stop and took some stunning photos back home. It was a totally mesmerizing island trip for me.
Khai Nui, Khai Nai and Khai Nok are now well-known for their beautiful sandy beaches and crystal-clear water, where you can swim among swarm of colorful and friendly fishes. There are little bars on the islands where you can purchase beverages, coconuts, and even beers.
The boat ride takes approx 20 minutes to arrive at Khai Nui. Visitors are only allowed to snorkel in the clear waters with beautiful corals and fishes swimming around you. Going ashore on one of these Phuket islands is prohibited.
The tour program allows only 45 minutes for snorkeling activities before moving on to Khai Nai arriving approx in 10 minutes.
Khai Nai is a little island with fine, dazzling white sand along the beach and crystal blue water. It’s simply a fantastic snorkeling spot. The island is dotted with beach umbrellas for a great laid-back island getaway.
Though, lunch will be provided with beverages and fruits, the usage of beach umbrella and 2 beach-chairs will cost you 150 baht. You have 2 hours before moving on to Khai Nok.
Khai Nok is the smallest island of the three with rocky outcrops. At Koh Khai Nok, there are also restaurants and beverages available.
The waters here are shallow and pretty clear with small fishes swimming around you. Good spot for snorkeling and for kids to splash around.
3. Koh Yao Islands
Phang Nga Bay is home to a pair of big islands. Koh Yao Yai is not the prettiest of the lot but it has long white sandy shoreline. Great stop for swimming and snorkeling.
The islands are sandwich between Phuket and Krabi and you can scoot off to Krabi as well from Koh Yao Nai.
If all these boats and road transfers sounds complicated to you, it is much easier to book your tickets online with 12go.asia which is my go-to website especially for South East Asia.
It’s quite a muddling trip if you decides to go via Phuket Bang Rong Pier. What we did was booked a cab via Grab app and proceed directly to Yamoo pier in Phuket.
Take a speedboat to Chong Lard Pier in Koh Yao Yai, then proceed to Ban Phru Nai with a short 30 minutes road trip.
How to go:
- From Bang Rong Pier on Phuket’s east coast, longtail boats and ferries depart daily to the Koh Yao Islands.
- The ferry ticket is 50 baht and there are three daily departures from Phuket: 9.30 am, noon, and 5 pm depending on the weather.
- One way trip takes approximately 1 hour and you can also hire longtail boats at Ao Po Pier for private charter which is a short ride away.
Top things to do:
Koh Yao Noi is similar to Koh Samui which has a ring road looping the island. It’s an offbeat quaint island with handful of motorbike shops, resorts and provision shops.
Best is to rent a bike or hire tuk tuk to cruise the island. Along the road, you will pass-by grazing buffalos, padi fields, rubber plantation etc. The sort of stuff for a laid-back simple island getaway.
You can find few restaurants, bars, small shops, a school, post office, police station and hospital along your route. Hiking, kayaking and beach activities are the top activities to do here.
4. Koh Racha Nai
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The tropical island of Koh Racha Yai is accessible all year. There are also numerous hotels and resorts that provide anything under the sun. The island lies 20km south of Phuket and easy to access.
The island is blessed with beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Divers flock here because they offer beautiful dive locations for advanced divers as well as lots of options for beginners.
The crescent shape beach at Ao Bungalow is totally white and seems to have a talcum powder appearance. A few resorts and restaurants notably 5-star The Racha are located here.
How to go:
- Boats may well be chartered from Rawai or Chalong Pier if you want to stay overnight.
- A long-tail boat trip takes roughly 2 hours, whereas speedboats can reach the island in an hour.
- You can also book an Racha Island Tour from travel agents in or around your hotel in Phuket.
Top things to do:
- Beside all the top beach activities on this island, the main buzz is serious scuba diving.
- The bay is good for diving on all season rain or shine. Visibility can be as clear to the depth of 30m.
- Big game trophies like Manta Rays and Whale sharks can be spotted here.
5. Koh Tachai
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Koh Tachai is an idyllic beach located on the tip of the Similan Islands National Park. It has a solid reputation as one of Thailand’s best dive locations due to its remote status.
There is only one beach on this stunning island yet it is totally spectacular.
Tachai is another beautiful island for serious scuba enthusiastic. You can find Manta Rays, leopard sharks and other species surrounded by lush tropical forest on the shore.
You can also hike along the shaded nature trail, check out the wildlife and beautiful flora and fauna as well.
The island is 12 square kilometers in size and was named the top 10 diving destinations in the world by Nat Geo.
With it’s super white beach and crystal clear waters, you don’t need to dive here. Just relax under a shady tree and admire the stunning sea view.
Just lazing on a hammock will refresh your way of life to the next level. The only setback is that this charming island only opens for visitors from November to April.
Boat trips to these islands is one of the best beach activities to consider. You need to check with the local travel desk at your hotel in Phuket for day tour and live-aboard for scuba diving package.