Ao Chalong is the only year-round anchorage at the southern end of Phuket. It is the big shallow bay facing south and is protected by the large island of Koh Lon at its entrance.
Only 10 kilometres from Phuket Town by road, this is traditionally the first port of call for visiting yachts, and offers many restaurants and marine service outlets on shore. The one stop port control centre is located at the landward end of the main concrete jetty.
There are two long jetties that give access to the west side of the bay at low water for dinghy and shallow draft vessels. Large areas of sticky mud dry on low spring tides, making dinghy access to the beach impossible.
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There are two approaches to Ao Chalong
From the south, care should be taken to stay closer to Koh Lon on your starboard side than to the mainland. This is because both the bank and the reef extend farther than the Admiralty and Thai charts suggest. Just south of the southern jetty there is a shallow sandbank, so do not turn into the area where all the yachts are anchored until you are abeam of the anchorage.
From the east, head approximately 285 degrees, leaving Koh Thanan, the small mid-channel island to port. From there proceed towards a prominent rocky patch on the hillside directly ahead. You will then see port and starboard buoys marking the entrance to the anchorage, thus avoiding the shallow bank in the north of the bay.
Anchor on the muddy bottom in 3 - 7 metres well offshore. Preferably well beyond the end of the 800 metre long concrete jetty or to the north of it as it is used daily by express ferries of all shapes, sizes, and speeds. Holding is excellent, and the most likely hazard is other boats with inadequate ground tackle dragging into you in a strong wind.
Alternatively, moorings are available at a monthly fee. Check with some of the local yachtsmen at the Ao Chalong Yacht Club for details of cost, location and safety of the moorings.
In the southwest monsoon season, this is one of the few perfectly protected anchorages on the island (although some ground swell may be experienced). In the northeast season, on the other hand, conditions can be a little choppy because of the long fetch in the bay and this can make long dinghy transfers to the beach uncomfortable. There are about 10 days per month when, due to the tide, dinghy access to the beach is impossible for a few hours.
The Ao Chalong Yacht Club can be found on the beach to the north of the new jetty. Twice monthly races for keelboats and multihulls are held during low season and visitors are welcome. This club is a well-oiled Yachties gathering place and good for trading information. There is a useful notice board here where prospective boat crews advertise their availability, and boats advertise needs for additional crew and items for sale, etc.
The building with a decorative lighthouse in fact is a restaurant called The Lighthouse and is another popular meeting point for cruising yachts, as are other small restaurants and bars along this beach.
The road from the jetty leads to Chalong Circle — a five-way roundabout — accessing roads to Rawai, Nai Harn, Kata, Phuket Town and the main highway to the north of the island, passing the three main shopping centers on the way to the airport.