We begin our guide of the South and South East Coast beaches with Rawai Beach, situated just 17km from Phuket Town and the first beach you come to when curving round from the south west headland. While it is not quite as busy a hub of sea faring activities as nearby Chalong to the north east, it is still popular and boats can be chartered from here for fishing and diving trips as well as island hopping excursions. Back in the day, Rawai was the first tourist beach resort on the island, but nowadays with improved infrastructure on the island, it’s appeal has been eclipsed by the easy access to the stunning, white sand beaches of the western coastline. The many boats moored here have made swimming in the waters less tempting and the title ‘working beach’ probably provides an apt description of Rawai. For those looking for a gateway to the many highlights of the Andaman Sea however, a working beach is exactly what they seek and Rawai provides a whole wealth of trips to suit every activity. The beach itself presents a real life menuboard of the treats on offer by providing stunning views of the nearby islands of Koh Bon, Koh He (Coral Island), Koh Lon and Koh Aeo and Koh Racha, all of which provide excellent opportunities for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Rawai plays host to a variety of activities from a relaxing visit to one of the Thai massage and herbal saunas to classes in Thai cookery and Batik Painting, the ancient and beautiful art form of painting with dyes on cotton and silk fabrics. There is even a Seashell Museum with beautiful collections from the Andaman coast and around the world.The beach is home to a community of Sea Gypsies and the Village and Fish Market are well worth a visit. Fishing knowledge has been passed down through many generations and the best time to pick up a fresh catch of the day is every afternoon at the market close by to the pier. The Phuket Sports and Tennis Club is open daily to members and non members alike and has a fabulous variety of activities for the whole family, many of which are free, including; tennis, badminton, beach volleyball, archery, pétanque, croquet, fishing, pool, snooker, darts, carpet bowls and table tennis. If you have spent too many late nights in Patong then the Atsumi Healing Centre offers a natural therapy education centre and retreat where people can relax and detox for a few days to recharge their batteries.
Don’t expect a nightlife scene to rival Patong, but Rawai does have a number of bars, many of which are frequented on a daily basis by the ex-pats that have set up home here. They are generally friendly and welcoming and you can pick up some interesting tips and stories about the island. For a fabulous beach front location, you can do no better than Nikita’s bar and Freedom Bar is a popular Sports bar in the area. As with every major beach destination, there is a colourful nightscene to be found somewhere and Rawai is no exception. Head for the bars around the Evasion Phuket Resort and enjoy an evening of fun and pool with the beautiful hostesses.