Natai Beach, a 10-kilometre stretch of white sands just north of Phuket, remains well off the tourist track. But with an international airport set to open nearby in 2025, Natai’s days as an overlooked Andaman coast idyll might be numbered.
Want to know how to find the largest, yet most pristine and tranquil beach in Phuket?
Drive off the island!
Natai Beach is found just 30 kilometres away from Phuket International Airport yet very few of the millions of visitors who fly to Phuket manage to find their way up here.
Set along the scenic west coast mainland of Phang Nga province, Natai Beach is a place of unusual juxtapositions. Strict building laws have limited development here, leading to a situation where just a few villas and boutique hotels are sprinkled along Natai’s shoreline in a landscape otherwise dominated by endless sands, coconut palm plantations and grazing buffalo.
About Natai Beach
Natai Beach has soft white sands lined with casuarina trees that extend up the Andaman coast for more than 10 kilometres. Phuket’s Mai Khao Beach is about 10 kilometres south of Natai, while Thai Muang Beach, an even quieter stretch of white sands, sits 18 kilometres to the north of Natai.
Just a handful of luxury villas line the beach, while some small and exclusive resorts including Aleenta and Iniala are also set along the beachfront. Baba Beach Club, a mixed hotel and villa property run by the same family that owns Sri Panwa resort in Phuket, is one of the newer arrivals to the area.
Natai is a superb place for those who like their beaches empty and free of hustling vendors and sunbed rentals. It’s what Patong Beach must have been like 40 years ago – with way more sand!
You could easily spend a day or two here relaxing on the sands and swimming in the sea, or for a change of scene go for a drive, walk or bike ride along the quiet paved road along the coastline. The only traffic jam we’ve ever encountered on this road was when a herd of water buffalo strolled across it!
There are several public entry points to Natai Beach from the road – just look for a path to the sand. The public pier is a popular spot for local people to gather, especially at sunset, when a few food vendors set up as well.
We usually end up at Rabiang Lay restaurant, which serves surprisingly tasty Thai food in an open-air setting of sturdy wooden tables in the shade and rustic bamboo huts. This is pretty much the perfect spot to park yourself for the day, with its beachfront massage hut, cold beers and priceless sea views.
For a relaxing little detour off the beach, head over to the Hotspring Beach Resort, which offers day passes for access to its natural hot spring pools. The pools are set in a lush tropical garden setting where there’s also a huge swimming pool with a swim-up bar and an ice pool set in a covered air-conditioned pavilion. Taking a dip in the ice pool reminded me of a childhood holiday, braving a cold mountain lake in Canada. Brrrr!
Day passes are 400 baht for adults and 200 baht for kids. There are changing rooms and lockers, and towels are provided, too. Once you get past the surly staff at reception, the Hotspring resort is an exceptionally soothing place to spend an afternoon.
One of the things we’ve always loved about Natai Beach is how few people are on it, but just this week we read the news that a new international airport is set to be built nearby. These sands of solitude may get a lot busier in the future. If the plans go ahead on schedule, the new airport will open in 2025. So if you want to beat the crowds, better get here now before it’s too late!
Things to do in Natai Beach
Relaxing at the beach is the main thing to do at Natai, but if you want to add in a few more activities on a day or weekend trip to the area, here are a few ideas:
Cool down under a cascade at Lampi waterfall or Ton Prai waterfall, each within a 35-minute drive of Natai Beach.
Hike to the summit of Samet Nangshe viewpoint for amazing sunrise views across Phang Nga Bay. (about 30 km east of Natai Beach)
Go for a splurge and dine at a Natai luxury resort restaurant including Iniala Beach Resort and Aleenta, both of which have taken care to hire talented chefs.
Natai Beach is also a good base for visiting the Similan Islands. Found about 48 kilometres south of Tab Lamu pier, the main launching point to the Similans, it’s a lot quicker to reach the Similans from Natai than from anywhere on Phuket island.
The best time to visit Natai Beach
Just like Phuket, Natai Beach is open year-round and the tropical sea water is always inviting, but you’ll need to swim with caution during the rainier monsoon months of May through October. Even if the waves aren’t big there could be a strong undertow in places. With no lifeguards in Natai, just stay out of the water if you have any doubts about the sea conditions.
January and February are the months to enjoy the calmest waters, coolest breezes and the sunniest days. March and April are generally hotter with some bursts of rain showers.
Getting to Natai Beach
Getting to Natai from Phuket requires a drive over the bridge to Phang Nga province. From the bridge, it takes only 10 minutes to reach the south end of Natai Beach (known locally as Pilai Beach). The nearest town is Khok Kloi. There’s not much of interest to see there but you’ll find banks, a hospital, petrol stations, local markets and a Tesco-Lotus grocery store.
Long-haul buses connecting Phuket to Phang Nga and Krabi stop at Khok Kloi bus station, about 3 kilometres inland from Natai Beach.
If you’re hiring a car from Phuket, make sure your car rental agreement allows for driving to Phang Nga province. Some rental places won’t let their cars be taken off the island.
Phuket airport, 30km
Nai Yang Beach, 31km
Patong Beach, 61km
Phuket Town, 54km
Chalong Pier, 64km
Khao Lak, 58km
Khao Sok park, 108km
Where to stay on Natai Beach
Well, we don’t have any budget-friendly options to recommend, sorry! With the strict building laws, accommodation choices at Natai tend to be on the high end. If we find some good value places to recommend later on, we’ll add them.
Sava Beach Villas
36 Moo 14, Natai Beach, Khok Kloi, Takua Thung District, Phang Nga
A collection of super luxurious villas set in a private beachfront estate, all with private pools and fully staffed. The choices range from a 4-bedroom villa a few metres back from the sands to the 7-bedroom Tievoli villa that’s right on the beach with its own spa and full-time masseuse. For a really big splurge!
Aleenta Phuket Resort
33 Moo 5, Natai Beach, Khok Kloi, Takua Thung, Phang Nga
This is a modern, beautiful beachfront resort with a laid-back vibe. Aleenta’s spa is extremely plush, and the pool is impressive at sunset with all its glittering lights. There’s also a kid’s club and sports facilities including a gym standup paddle boards. Wellness is a big focus here, with yoga and health packages available.
Update: Below are a few more accommodation ideas, as I’ve been asked whether there are any places to stay that aren’t super expensive! I haven’t personally checked them so I advise doing your research on these before booking:
Cfun Cottages (no website)
52 Khok Kloi, Takua Thung District, Natai Beach; Tel: 081 537 5284
Simple place with a few wooden air-conditioned bungalows set around a pool. Set just back from the beach across the road, it’s only 100 metres away from Rabiang Lay restaurant, which is a bonus! Prices are around 1,000 baht/night.
Apa-Tree Boutique Hotel (no website)
5/2 Khok Kloi, Takua Thung District, Natai Beach; Tel: 094 6149615
This is a new place (open early 2018) found near Khok Kloi town about 2.5km inland. Prices listed on online booking sites start at around 1,100 baht/night.
Akyra Beach Club
32/7 Moo 5, Pilai Beach, Khok Kloi, Takua Thung
Run by the same company as Aleenta, this resort with 42 rooms and 16 villas appears to be aimed at a younger “hip” market, with a beach club and fitness/sports facilities. Prices from about 3,300 baht/night.