Karon and Kata were two of the buzziest beaches on Phuket prior to events in 2020, as firm favorites with families and group tours. It’s a different picture now but the area is hesitantly rebuilding for the young professional traveler, with cool beach bars and restaurants popping up in the past year.
Karon Beach is a lengthy one, dotted with resorts, nuzzled by the jungle to the east and lapped by the Andaman Sea along the west coast. Trails lead through the jungle to Karon View Point, which is a popular spot at sunset, or to Karon Temple and the colorful Buddhist shrine Wat Karon. There’s a divine new vegan restaurant at the north end of the beach, Soul Phuket, where a healthy menu appeals to all diners no matter their diet, listing full ingredients of each lovingly prepared meal. Beach bar A Blanket & A Pillow is an idyllic place to spend your days or nights, with interiors that are full of hammocks and bean bags to rest on, while you take in the stunning seaside views. They also host fun EDM artists on Saturday nights, if you fancy a dance.
Kata Beach to the south of Karon is a surfing hub, with pilgrims coming from far and wide to find the perfect wave. Pre-pandemic there were many thriving surf shops and beachwear stores but with tourism slow to come back to Thailand, these businesses are yet to return. This hasn’t deterred the surfers though, and you can find instructors on the island who’ll take you out for lessons. Just under Kata Beach are the sands of smaller Kata Noi, where people go to snorkel and dive.
Kata still has a few great international dining options such as Pomodoro Pizza Restaurant, as well as healthy food offerings at Green Heart Garden, which is tucked away in the hills. Not far from Green Heart is Maybelle's Coffee Garden, a lovely place to work in the heart of nature. You can also easily visit the infamous Big Buddha (aka Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Eknakiri) while you’re in this neck of the woods—based on top of a mountain just outside Kata, it’s a phenomenal site, notable for the scale of the seated buddha statue as well as the views. Additionally Kata Hot Yoga studio is one of the best on the island.
Lucie Grace is a British freelance writer, based in Chiang Mai. She lived in India throughout 2020 and 2021 and misses it daily. You can read her bylines in The Daily Beast, Fodor’s, The Independent and The Times.
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