At the Southern province of Thailand and rocky shores of Phuket lies the Nai Harn beach, a place blessed with white sands and good deep blue underwater visibility, a boon for snorkelers toward the southern headlands (the best been to the north at Ao Sane where there’s a bunch of small coral outcrops just offshore). It has all the food, hotels and shops you need for a great day and still holds on pretty well to its original feel unintentionally lauded by the Buddhist restrictions.
Just after the junction of the Rawai Beach and Nai Harn Beach Roads is a large open-area modern building on the right-hand side (as you drive to Nai Harn) where the most notable pizza is been served in the area. The pizzas here really are very good, and the pasta specials also make fine dishes. The only downside is this place’s popularity, and during peak season the queue can mean a wait of 30 minutes or more to be seated. There is always that melodious jazz buss here in the family-friendly atmosphere. Located on Soi Sai Yuan, is yet another place with a lot of charm and atmosphere. It is a known place with a fuse of Mediterranean and Thai cuisine. Before you make a trip here however, be sure you’ve got a lot of bucks. You can be sure you will get a good value for your money though☺.
The Royal Phuket Yatcht Club Hotel (formerly ‘Le Meridien’) and All Seasons Nai Harn Hotel are really the only two resorts that are located close to Nai Harn Beach. Both resorts offer local Thai and expat cuisines. Other few accommodation options near the beach are up-market, and new developments tend to be time-shares and private villas.
Here and there on the road to Nai Harn village are the sparsely spread retails mini marts and beach service providers like the adroit artisan who would gladly fix beach toys for kids, tailors, bike-hire service providers and the massage and beauty treatment specialists littered everywhere.
Between the beach and the 1km long lake (with an island) in the middle that is joined by a causeway now hosts the Wat Nai Harn that has grown in size from what it was known to be – a humble and rather invisible temple. The lake behind the beach, once natural and slowly flowing is now a giant and ordered concrete pond where you can rent some paddle boats to stir up fun for the kids, cyclists and joggers. The lake is used for organized water sport events such as dragon boat racing.
A five minute drive south of Nai Harn will bring you to the island’s most photographed and perhaps best-known sunset viewpoints in Phuket – the Promthep Cape, is the perfect spot to watch the sunset. The view from the cape is like a huge eternity pool from which you can mentally project the far-flung shores of Sri Lanka and the Indian Subcontinent. While the quiet sunset slowly emerges at the beach, on the top of the nearby hill stands a busy car park where vehicles disgorge crowds of people from every corner of the world. Cameras flash, fingers point and lovers cuddle as Phuket’s most fabulous free show is re-enacted.
Lying between the beach and Nai Harn lake is the Samnak Song Nai Harn Buddhist Monastery. The Monastery owns a lot of the beachfront land in this area, even untouchable by the Thai government, restricting commercial development along the beachfront and has conversely helped preserve much of the area of its antecedents. This could be the reason why the beach is generally less crowded than other areas on the southern part of the island. If you would like to observe one of the most delightful scenes that demonstrates the connection between monks and common folks, you will have to wake up early and visit the Buddhist retreat in the morning to visit the villagers’ ‘merit making’, a practice of donating food to the monks and paying respect to them before getting busy with their daily business.
Surrounding tip: Take a drive through the car park of the Royal Phuket Yacht club and follow the road for about kilometer, you will find a beautiful little beach called Ao Sane.