Dominated by verdant rainforest and towering limestone cliffs, Southern Thailand's Krabi province is blessed with astounding scenic beauty. This is especially true on the coast, where the thick green jungle, sheer rock formations (called karsts), and azure waters of the Andaman Sea meet. With more than 60 miles of mainland coast and 200-some offshore islands, the region has an abundance of spectacular beaches, bays, and lagoons. Here are a handful of the dreamiest, most beautiful beaches in Krabi.
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Ao Nang (Mainland)
Let’s start with Ao Nang, the tourist center of Krabi province and a gateway to countless islands. There are many Krabi beaches that deliver that isolated, castaway feeling many travelers are looking for, but Ao Nang is not one of them. This is a boisterous beach town whose main road and pedestrian thoroughfare are lined with restaurants, street-food vendors, beach bars, party hostels, massage spots, motorbike rentals, fruit-shake stands, tour dealers, and so on. Sensory overload is typical of Ao Nang, but its wide expanse of golden-sand beach, bound by jungle-covered bluffs, is nonetheless lovely. The scene stays lively throughout the day and into the evening, when visitors listen to live music and watch the sunset.
Noppharat Thara Beach (Mainland)
Whereas Ao Nang beach is packed to the gills with nightclubs, restaurants, and tourists, its laid-back neighbor to the north, Noppharat Thara, is popular with locals, who roll out bamboo mats and picnic under casuarina trees. The quiet beach is especially beautiful during sunset, when the Andaman recedes and thousands of water pockets in the wave-swept sand reflect pink sky. During low tide, it’s possible to walk to the small islands off the coast. Though it’s less commercially intense than its neighboring beach to the south, Noppharat Thara still has plenty of locally run restaurants, beach bars, and food vendors, as well as taxis, tuk-tuks, and long-tail boat ticket agents. At the north end of the beach is Noppharat Thara Pier, where travelers can transfer to Phi Phi and other islands.
Railay West and Phra Nang Beach (Mainland)
Railay is a rugged peninsula whose soaring, rainforest-clad cliffs block mainland access. (The destination is reachable by speedboat, long-tail boat, or ferry from Ao Nang and Krabi Town.) The eastern side of the Railay isthmus is mostly mangroves and mudflats exposed during low tide, but the western beach is a long and wide sweeping arc of golden sand. The calm emerald lagoon is heaven for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, and on the sand, visitors sunbathe, stroll in the surf, sit at the beach bars, or pick up a game of soccer. From almost any vantage, there are striking views of the huge limestone rock formations that make Railay one of the most famous rock-climbing destinations in the world. Phra Nang Beach, on the peninsula’s southern end, is considered one of the most beautiful spots in southern Thailand.
Long Beach (Hat Yao) on Ko Phi Phi Don
Long Beach is an idyllic destination on Ko Phi Phi Don, the largest of the Phi Phi islands. It’s shared by a handful of resorts (mostly rustic bungalow properties) and offers stunning views of sunsets and the jagged Ko Phi Phi Leh across the bay. The aquamarine water here has an actual drop-off and even some small waves. Long Beach is surrounded by jungle, with nothing in easy walking distance; the jungle path to Tonsai village (about a 35-minute walk) should not be attempted after dark or during heavy rains.
Lo Dalum on Ko Phi Phi Don
Ko Phi Phi Don’s two main landmasses are connected by a thin isthmus with spectacular twin bays. The south-facing bay, Tonsai, is the island group’s main ferry port, and the adjacent town is its commercial center. To the north is beautiful Lo Dalum Bay, a crescent-shaped bay flanked by rocky headlands. Because Tonsai is the landing point for ferries and speedboats from the mainland, Lo Dalum is popular with day-trippers who can easily walk through town to access the bay. Backpacker hostels and beach bars line the beach and tourists can be found cavorting on the sand at all hours of the day and into the night.
Loh BaGao Bay on Ko Phi Phi Don
The unspoiled Loh BaGao Bay (also spelled Loh Ba Kao Bay) is a popular spot for couples and honeymooners looking for a sliver of paradise away from Ko Phi Phi Don’s crowds. The white-sand bay has a remote location on the northern arm of the island, practically impossible to reach except by long-tail water taxi. (There are no motorized vehicles or bona fide roads on the island. Intrepid visitors could access the bay via hiking trails, but these should only be attempted during daytime and when conditions are dry.) Surrounded by lush jungle and palm-covered hills, the bay stretches nearly 3,000 feet and offers magnificent views of the sea and outer islands. Its placid waters of the bay are ideal for snorkeling or kayaking.
Klong Dao on Ko Lanta
Klong Dao (or Khlong Dao) is Ko Lanta’s most popular beach thanks to its golden sands and sparkling blue waters. The island itself is relatively subdued, but this is one of the most happening spots in the area, with plenty of restaurants and bars. The northernmost reaches of the beach are more quiet, and feel secluded even in high season. The beach is close to both the ferry terminal and main Saladan town.
Ko Hong is a pristine limestone island near the mainland village of Nong Thale. Ko Hong’s east shore contains a ridiculously picturesque moon-shaped bay framed by creviced karsts shooting out of the sea. At the heart of the island lies a nearly enclosed lagoon with shallow, shimmering green water and colorful fish. The island’s white-sand beach and mangroves-lined lagoon are popular for snorkeling and swimming, though some past travelers have reported that the water can be silty. On the main beach, travelers can find benches and a small cafe with Thai dishes. A nature walk gives visitors a chance to spot monkeys, birds, and monitor lizards. Hong Island can be reached via private boat hire or as part of a larger tour. Note: It’s best to visit Ko Hong early in the day to beat the crowds.
More postcard perfection awaits at Ko Tup, a tiny island south of Railay. The typical coastal Krabi factors — clear turquoise water, rocks shooting out of the sea, dense vegetation running up to the sand — are here, but what makes Ko Tub stand out is its sand bar connecting it to other small islands. The link disappears at high tide, but during low tide, visitors can walk to the islands as well as snorkel in the waters teeming with tropical fish. Ko Tub is accessible with a chartered long-tail or as part of the Four Island tour, which also includes the equally gorgeous Ko Poda, Ko Kai (Chicken Island, named for its shape), and Ko Mor. Same as with Ko Hong, early bird arrivals are rewarded with fewer crowds.
Bamboo Island in the Phi Phi Archipelago
A national park north of Ko Phi Phi Don, Bamboo Island presents the trifecta of tropical-island goodness: crystal-clear teal water, clean white sand, and lush green wilderness surrounding it all. A key difference here is that while most Krabi beaches and islands are defined by towering cliffs, Bamboo Island is largely flat. The water is warm, waveless, and rife with marine life. Before or after snorkeling sessions, visitors can grab a curry or stir-fry lunch and ice cream from a little cafe, and picnic under the shade of trees.
Tub Kaek (Mainland)
Veiled in tropical forest, the quiet and beautiful Tub Kaek beach (also spelled Tup Kaek) is far removed from the Ao Nang action. There are a handful of beach resorts here, with restaurants and bars for taking in the spectacular sunsets and views of offshore limestone karsts. Ao Nang Beach and all of its shopping, dining, and entertainment are a 25-minute drive from the hotel. Travelers with a rented motorbike might be happiest, as taxis and tuk-tuks to Ao Nang and Krabi Town can add up.
Ao Maya on Ko Phi Phi Leh
Maya Bay’s beauty is legendary. The film site for “The Beach,” this now-iconic cove on the uninhabited Ko Phi Phi Leh has drawn tourists in droves for the better part of two decades. Sadly, Maya Bay’s mass popularity has led to its ecological decline; in May of this year, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation closed the in-demand day-trip attraction for a four-month-long recovery effort. Though the agency originally planned to reopen Ao Maya to tourists this month, it reported on October 2 that it will keep the bay closed indefinitely. The department has also banned one-time-use plastics and Styrofoams from the country’s 154 national parks.
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