Freedom Beach is an exclusive gem on Phuket’s west coast; the 300m-long strip of white sand is set in a superb bay dotted with granite rocks and surrounded by hills covered by thick and luxuriant jungle. Essentially, Freedom Beach’s exclusivity comes from its rather difficult accessibility, although things are getting a bit better nowadays.
Apart from sunbathing, popular activities that can be enjoyed at Freedom Beach are beach soccer (two mini-goals are available), beach volleyball, and snorkelling. The shallow waters at both ends of the beach host superb underwater fauna and flora and the southern end is slightly superior. There are no jet-skis or other noisy marine leisure activities at Freedom Beach; the only audible engines are those of the long-tail boats bringing and taking away visitors.
Long-tail boats parked at the jetty at the southern end of Patong Beach can take you there for between 1,100 to 1,500 baht for the round trip – and to be honest, they make up the price according to how you look. As it takes only 10 minutes to get to Freedom Beach this is a blatant rip-off, but it is the only way to get there for people not fit enough to reach the beach by road.
There are two ways to get to the ‘Freedom Beach parking lot’ located some 200m above the bay: at the southern end of Patong Bay, follow the road that climbs up the hill, turn left at Amari Coral Beach, pass in front of Baan Yin Dee Resort and, at the bottom of the hill take a left toward Avista Hideaway Resort which is 700m away from the Freedom Beach parking lot (the road becomes a path sadly strewn all along with garbage and construction remains dumped there). The other entrance to the same road/path is just before the top of Patong Hill, on the road from Patong to Karon Beach. Coming from Patong, the path to Freedom Beach parking lot is on the right, some 80m after Rasta Baby Bar (which is on the left-hand side of the road).
The parking lot is supervised by two locals and it costs 100 baht to park your motorbike. The way down (and mostly up!) is quite physically demanding but well worth the effort.
The beach has two distinct areas separated by the long-tail boats’ landing spot. Simply throw down your towel and lie on the sand at the northern side of the beach. People looking for cool photos can climb the cement stairs and enjoy panoramic views of the beach from the hill. The southern side of the beach ‘belongs’ to the ‘One ‘n’ Only Restaurant & Bar’ (no joking): at the backside of the beach, sun-loungers and umbrellas go for 120 baht/day, while simply lying on the beach with your towel will cost you 100 baht.
The restaurant itself (shaded by palms and pergolas) can easily accommodate up to 120 in a charming outdoor setting. It serves a good choice of Thai favourites and a few international dishes; all of them coming in at pretty high prices for Thailand – 180 baht for fried rice with prawns, 220 baht for fried chicken with cashew nuts, 260 baht for a ham & cheese sandwich; due no doubt to the difficult accessibility.
Summing up, Freedom is certainly one of the last beaches in Phuket at which people can spend a relaxing time far away from the crowds in a laidback and tranquil atmosphere and in an outstanding natural environment (like the whole of Phuket was some 30 years ago). As said, the easiest way to get there – by long-tail boats – costs a pretty penny and is unfair for people who are not in good enough shape to walk down and up the cliff access way.