Kata Beach has been on the radars of world travelers since the ‘70s. But unlike its overcrowded and noisy counterpart, Patong, it has managed to keep a low profile until recent years. New developments like the hip Foto Hotel, Kata Rocks, and even a recent restyling of the longstanding Boathouse courtesy of Montara (the group behind the Phuket’s luxurious Trisara Resort) have brought a new buzz to the area.
Re Kata Surf School
Surfing: Kata Beach has long been known as the mecca of Thailand’s surfing community, and now the beach is full of surf schools. At Re Ka Ta Surf School, a one-hour course followed by one hour free with a surfboard will cost you about S$39. “Though you can surf at other beaches on Phuket, the scene is here in Kata,” said Jimmy Smith, 31, a Kata-based surfer and instructor. “The waves are better and good for both beginners and intermediate surfers. The best time of year is from May-Nov, during monsoon season.” If there aren’t any waves, then Kata is also home to Surf House Phuket, a wave simulator where fees start from about S$31 for one hour and is about S$78 for three hours (in addition to S$8 registration).
Diving: From Kata Beach, it takes just five minutes by boat to reach Koh Pu, an inhabited island surrounded by coral reef. The beach at Kata Noi is also surrounded by four kilometers of reef that offers dives to 16 meters. Half-day programs with the Kata-based Phuket Scuba Club starts around S$115.
Sailing and Windsurfing: The best season for high winds lasts from Nov-Apr. For windsurfing, take lessons at Phuket Windsurfing, which offers board rental at about S$97 per hour. Kata is also one of the main stages for the King’s Cup Regatta, Thailand’s biggest sailing event, which takes place every year at the beginning of December.
Kata Noi Beach
Start one morning by taking a break from the beach to trek up Kata Hill. The reward at the top: stunning views of Kata Noi Beach, a hidden gem that’s also great for surfing (with reputedly more powerful waves) or just a quiet jog on the beach. In the afternoon, head up to Kata Karon Viewpoint, a 10-minute drive down south from Kata Beach, to see that iconic Phuket view of the gulfs of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon.
Still buzzing after its opening last year, the high-end apartment complex-cum-resort Kata Rocks is great for a late-afternoon sunset cocktail in an ultra-chic setting beside its azure-hue pool and propeller umbrellas. Non-guests can buy day passes for about S$214 that let them eat and drink as much as they please as well as swim in the pool. Looking for somewhere closer to the beach? Re Ka Ta Beach Club is the perfect spot to wind down after a surf session and
stay until late in the night, when the music turns up and the drinks start flowing. For some live music, head over to the new Palm Square community mall, where the rustic loft-styled bar-and-restaurant Sea Smith has small live music every night.
There are countless international food joints around Kata—most of which need to be avoided. But Boathouse Wine & Grill is the real deal, home to the oldest wine cellar in Phuket (some of the highly-valued bottles still bear scars from the 2004 Tsunami) as well as a kitchen team who prepare some of Phuket’s finest French cuisine. For something Thai, head to Mom Tri’s Kitchen, situated on the hill overlooking Kata Noi. But if you’re looking for where locals really eat, drive up the hill behind the beach for Pad Thai Jay Mam or Pad Thai Karon (238 Patak Rd., +66 (0) 086-274-6382) which both serve big plates of yummy pad Thai along with plus-size portions of pad kaprao (stir-fried meat with holy basil) and chicken noodles—just don’t try visiting at lunchtime, when it gets completely packed with locals and foodie tourists.
Where to Stay
Boathouse (076-330-015 to 17). Room rates start from about S$425. They are now offering three-night adventure packages that let you choose one activity: surfing, stand-up paddle board or the Flying Human experience. The package starts at around S$1,216 for superior rooms. Kata Rocks (076-370-777). Room rates start around S$1,135 for one bedroom Sky Villa.
How to Get There