The best beaches in Phuket aren't on Phuket itself, but on the surrounding islands. While some travellers head to the best and often pricey Phuket resorts to bask in the sun, read their books, relax and feast on delicious Thai food, we decided to pick an affordable accommodation and head out to the islands!
Raya Islands or Racha Islands are located about 12km to the south of Phuket and are well-known sites for diving and snorkelling. Great place to head to for a day trip, where it is less crowded than the beaches on Phuket or even Krabi themselves. The Islands are made up of several smaller islands including Racha Yai and Racha Noi.
Racha Yai, the main beach area, now has its own premium resort, The Racha, where you can enjoy the Patok beach all to yourselves after most day trippers leave the beach at around 4pm. When you arrive, you'll feel like a VIP as you land on the strip of fine white sand. The exclusivity of the resort and the beach front makes it feel like you're at a private island, with the smallest and cheapest room still being a villa! The Racha, is the perfect place for honeymooners.
Other activities you could do on The Racha include the Ao Taiwan Tok bay, which has extremely clear waters and is a great venue for snorkelling during low tide. There is another large bay on the Islands, Ao Siam, where you can take slow and tranquil strolls. ATV rides are also possible on the island for the adventure go-oers.
For those who are snorkel enthusiast, the waters surrounding Racha Noi are great spots! Here, you'll see lots of colourful small fishes. The island itself is uninhabited so getting to the surrounding waters is only possible when you head for the Raya Islands Day Tours that would loan you snorkels and ferry you to these sites.
How to get to Raya Islands from Phuket?
To get to Raya Islands, you can hop onto either long-tail boats or speedboats from Chalong Pier or Rawai. The entire trip takes about 45 minutes to an hour depending on your choice of boat.
Unless you are staying on the island, we do recommend that you purchasing Island Hopping Day Tours that would ensure you have time on the island, bring you to snorkelling sites, and even arrange transport to and from your hotel. Doing-it-yourself in Phuket is actually more troublesome as you'll have to arrange both land and sea transfers.
Where to purchase Island Hopping Day Trip tours?
Purchasing Day Trip tours are much cheaper if you purchase them online (at least a day before) before heading to Phuket. However, our Phuket trip was a last minute decision (booked air tickets the night before our flight) and we didn't have sufficient time to do ample research.
If, like us, you do not have sufficient time to purchase your day trips online, head to any of the tour agencies in the city and you MUST HAGGLE! You'll get more haggling rights if you purchase more than one tour with the agency. Even so, you're going to be paying about a-third more expensive than if you purchase online! So, planning is definitely necessary if you would like to save some money!
That being said, we were very fortunate to confirm for an afternoon half day tour to Raya Islands at one of the tour agencies, just half an hour before the tour itself! So even with the high prices, we were glad to be heading out!
How will Island Hopping Day Trips be like in Phuket?
Island Hopping Day Trips are convenient ways to explore the many islands in Phuket. The tour companies will always arrange for a minivan to pick you up, send you back, and ample water, fruits, and snacks are provided during your entire tour. For full day tours, lunch is provided.
Service is almost always impeccable no matter which tour company you go to. However, the quality of both the services, snacks, drinks, and speedboats used may differ. The premium companies like Sea Star Andaman usually have very good English-speaking guides and you rarely feel like you've been rushed to complete your swimming or snorkelling. We actually tried a variety and liked the 5-star quality of Sea Star. :)
For our half-day trip to Raya Islands, we really enjoyed the peace and tranquility. As we did an afternoon trip, there were also less people on the island as most tourists usually head there in the day. After seeing some of the facilities that The Racha resort has, we are pretty sure that we want to head back and stay at the resort someday!
Where to stay in Phuket?
Meanwhile, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Pimnara Boutique Hotel at Jungceylon Shopping Mall. Even though we didn't have amazing pools to relax in, the location in the heart of the liveliest Patong Beach and right beside Bangla Street for night life was the perfect place for us!
Read more about our stay at Hotel Review: Pimnara Boutique Hotel in Phuket, Thailand.
Have you been to the Raya Islands? Share your experiences with us below!
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