Phuket's west coast is an idyllic stretch of beaches and a marvellous place to moor in high season from the end of November to April. Yachties, however, should keep a sharp eye open for weather forecasts especially during December as sudden squalls can develop. Do not moor along the west coast during the southwest monsoon from May to November.
Anchor anywhere well out in the bay in 6 - 8 metres on a sandy bottom. Kamala Beach lies in a pretty bay, with several hotel developments. There are plenty of restaurants ashore in a busy village atmosphere on the south end of the beach. The bay is easily recognised from seaward by the large structures of the Phuket FantaSea Park and the developments on the southern hill.
Care should be taken when coming from the south to avoid the rocky patch 300 metres off the headland.
Laem Singh and Surin Beach
Anchor in 10 metres on a sandy bottom.
Laem Sing is a beautiful bay framed by two rocky headlands. It is the favourite spot for paradise seekers and ageing hippies who prefer the short longtail ride from Patong to the gruelling bus ride to Krabi.
There are several daytime restaurants here, in the high season, with more in nearby Surin Beach.
Around the headland is Surin Beach, which is one of the island's only zoned public beaches and as such has no permanent structures, apart from a small group of restaurants at the southern end.
One of these is the famous Diver's Place, a casual beach bar named for its charismatic Australian owner (once Australia's national deep diving champion), and frequented mostly by expat residents of the island.
Behind the beach is a community park backed by a number of restaurants and small guest houses. From this headland north the private housing and hotel accommodation becomes increasingly exclusive and expensive.
Bang Tao Bay
Approaching Bang Tao Bay from the south, watch out for the large rock shown 150 metres off the headland on the chart. If it is visible, vessels can pass close on either side, as there is 10 metres of water all around. At high water, however, give the headland a wide berth and proceed well north before turning into the bay.
Bang Tao has been developed by Laguna Phuket group as Asia's first fully integrated resort complex, comprising the Dusit Thani Laguna, Laguna Beach Resort, Sheraton Grand Laguna, Best Western Allamanda and Banyan Tree Phuket hotels.
Anchor in 6- 8 metres on a sandy bottom in front of any of the hotels.
Ashore, you will also find several good beach restaurants catering to a wide range of budgets. Just 25 minutes from the airport, these hotels are a useful pick-up point for visitors.
All the hotels in the Laguna complex can be accessed by the free resort shuttle tuk tuks and boats on the canals.
On the very north end of Bang Tao beach, just inside the island, is a high tide river that can be accessed by dinghy leading to two huge, previously tin-dredged inland lagoons — which are earmarked as a potential site for the first west coast marina.
You should anchor outside the hotel moorings (which are not available for public use) in 10 metres on a sandy bottom. This anchorage is uncomfortable when the northwesterly swell is running in February or March.
This secluded spot is one of the nicer bays on the west coast and is home to The Surin Phuket and Amanpuri exclusive resorts. Yacht crews may use the hotel restaurants for that special occasion, but it is wise to make a reservation.
There is an excellent sandy beach, and good snorkeling is to be had on both points.