Main beach at Coral Island - Long Beach.
Coral Island is one of Phuket’s fringing islets and popular daytrip locations. It also has a lower-midrange place Coral Island Resort which is not a bad place to spend a couple of days at the start or end of an Andaman trip.
Location is only 10km SSE of Phuket's Chalong pier.
The beaches are on the north coast, connected by a rainforest track just above the rocks. There are no roads or villages.
Oblique Google Earth image showing the island from the north west. Might be worth clicking the image to expand - shows the reef dop-off for both beaches well.
Long Beach is about 900M in length. The north end here tends to be quietest although not manicured as fastidiously as other sections.
Daytrippers mainly congregate in the central area where it can get pretty crowded (a bit early in the day for crowds in this shot). Swimmers/snorkellers have a large buoyed enclosure that separates them from the speedboats and longtails. Daytrip operators have 2 restaurants/beach clubs here - food and drink prices seem similar to the resort, not budget.
The south end is the resort area. Sign tells daytrippers this is a private area. No boats. Some nice old-style canvas beach chairs along here plus plenty of shade most of the day under the casuarina trees. White sand. Water is clear, gets a bit shallow at low tide but not too bad. Some stones exposed at far north end at lowest tide but not unattractive. Coral Island is supposed to be an okay snorkelling location but I swam out to the reef drop-off, about 100m at high tide and didn’t find anything impressive. May be better around the headland rocks.
Coral Island Resort's premium bungalows are these beachfront ones. There are two rows of similar but cheaper ones in the garden area behind - spacing a bit tight.
My room was in a block of 4 in the garden area. Cheapest option, it was still pretty okay - large, clean, aircon, hw, frig, jug - no tv which I didn’t miss a bit. Very quiet resort at night.
The outlook from my balcony thru the garden towards the pool wasn’t shabby. Pool-bungalows area much more nicely landscaped than reception-restaurant region northward beachside which seems a bit sparsely planted and sandy.
Restaurant-reception area - not short of trees but ground-cover a bit scraggy.
The beachfront restaurant has a nice outlook towards one of Phuket’s other fringing islands (left) and Phuket’s Cape Panwa (background). Inclusive buffet breakfast was okay without being sensational - prices for other meals more midrange than budget - I ate these meals at a beach restaurant-bar further north.
This is shot from deck of that northern restaurant-bar. Prices maybe 25% higher than typical island budget restaurant but not too bad and good savings on other options. Once again, this end of the beach is the one if you want to avoid the crowds. That’s Phuket in background - it’s one biiiig island.
Pool area pretty nice, never crowded - well away from daytrippers. Frequent visits by hot topless Russian babe guests meant distracted investigative reporting. But I persevered for your sake, dear readers.
If you take a track starting above the rocks just behind the camera in the shot top of page you will come after a 10 minute fairly flat walk thru nice rainforest to Banana Beach. This is considerably smaller than Long Beach but not as short as the camera suggests. Banana tends to attract a fair few daytrippers too (this is shot real early before most arrive), mainly the longtail charter groups. But the beach never appeared crowded. Water tends to be deeper low tide. Snokelling on drop-off appeared no better. Nice restaurant in trees left of those guys.
UPDATE FEB 2012 - I was just checking Agoda and noticed the restaurant on Banana Beach, called Beach Club, now has some "bungalows" - basically a platform with a bed, outside bathrooms. At $aud31 v $36 for a room with the works plus pool at Coral Island Resort it doesn't seem a great bargain.
AS GOOD AS RAYA/RACHA?
Ko Raya is another Phuket fringing island further south of Coral Island. I prefer it - the main beach is gorgeous with more-interesting snorkelling off the sand, the island is bigger with more bays/paths, there is increased variety of accommodation - one very high end joint, 2 other midrangers and 3 budget places and quite a few budget restaurants. It is one of the Phuket area's premium diving sites and there are dive-outfits on the island. A disadvantage is that the trip takes about twice as long (but is no more expensive on the speedboats) which is not fun on a rough day.
Coral Island Resort has its own speedboat shuttle which will take you there and back for 1000 including transfer from Phuket accommodation. Unfortunately the resort did not answer my 2 emails (I booked thru one of the online multi-accommodation websites - not the resort’s website) so I had to make a motorocyle taxi trip from Phuket town down to the pier at CHALONG and get a ride out and back on a daytrip boat. You can charter a long tail for much the same money but only one-way and this could be a rough, slow, wet trip on a bumpy day. It only makes sense baht-wise for a group of people. I think if you are daytripping and want the longtail to wait the price is more like 1500+.
Bustle at daytrip piers is always good value. This is the outside of Nikorn Speedboat at Chalong. Big time haggler Tezza managed to cut price from 1000 to 900. Boats depart about 0900 - leave island around 1500. Trip takes around 20 minutes in calmer conditions.
Back at Chalong. Boats only use pier at low tide when beach approach is too shallow - climb up from boat to pier a bit of a hassle and it's a pretty looong pier.
If you are visiting Coral Island you may be interested in:
- similar Ko Raya/Racha
- and of course Phuket itself
If you see mistakes or have extra info, please post it below. If you have questions, please post them in THE FORUM, accessed via the INDEX page. I don't get to check individual island pages all that often.