All the beaches, islands, waterfalls and views you need for a tropical holiday—without the Phuket crowds.

Beach hopping

The beaches at Cape Panwa are not ideal for swimming but are perfect for lazing about in the sun. The beach at Ao Yon has white sands and idyllic blue water and is home to fishermen and a number of yachts. Local restaurants offer boat trips if you fancy a spot of fishing.

The Falls

Phuket is justifiably famous for its beaches, but waterfalls are another real attraction of the island. One nearby is Ao Yon Waterfall. Situated 10 minutues from Cape Panwa, the place is rather difficult to find, situated right where Soi Ruam Jai Ao Yon ends. It also takes a little trekking to reach the spot but it’s worth it for its strong water flow, especially during rainy season. Sit right next to the fall or dangle your legs in to get massaged by nature.

Top of the Cape

Khao Khad Views Tower is located slightly out of the way, in Wichit District on Skdidej Road past through Mudong Canal, and requires you to climb a few steps or take the natural wooden bridge trail to reach the top for a 360-degree view of south Phuket and its nearby islands. But it’s more than worth it. Chalong Bay, Makham Bay, Cape Panwa and, at a distance, the Big Buddha are all visible. The best time to go is afternoon until sunset, too.

Island Day Trips

Island-hopping is a great option for visitors here for a long stay. There are two islands close to Panwa. Coral Island or Koh Hae, three kilometers southeast of Phuket, has two beaches, Banana Beach and Long Beach, where you can view the impressive coral reef with a bit of snorkeling. The island is also great for doing water sports like kayaking. Leaving from the aquarium, day trips by longtail boat take approximately 45 minutes each way and include lunch and light snacks at B1,200 ($46) roundtrip (bargain hard). Some 12 kilometers south of Phuket lies Racha Island or Koh Raya, famous for diving and snorkeling. The clear waters and white sands see day-trippers flock here, with some even staying on in the bungalows and resorts that have begun to spring up. Day trips by speedboat take around 30 minutes each way and cost B1,600 ($62) roundtrip inclusive of lunch and light snacks.

The Local Taste

When evening falls, the best choice to catch the sunset while sipping a few refreshing cocktails is Sri Panwa’s Baba Nest, an exclusive rooftop bar with a panoramic view of Phuket’s southeastern islands. Another restaurant with a similarly impressive view is The Grill at the newly-opened Regent Phuket Cape Panwa. Its rooftop dining lounge boasts an impressive wine list to match the setting, too. Craving some local food? Head to the last turn of the cape where the welcoming Keang Lay (33/1 Mu 8, Sakdidej Road, +66 76-391-103, open daily 11:30am-10pm) serves up tasty local bites. Try the gaeng kati pu mee hun (spicy crab red curry with rice noodles, THB150/$5.80) served with beansprout, boiled eggs, pineapple and basil leaves, the stir-fried smoked dried shrimp with pak miang (melinjo nuts, THB100/$3.90) or minced fried pork or beef with dry curry (THB120/$4.60). Follow up your heavy dinner with a stroll along the Panwa beachside to Kantary Café (owned by Cape Panwa) for a few sweets. This cozy café does some of the best coffee in the area and serves a variety of cheesecakes. Try the coffee frappe (THB75/$2.90) with a fresh fruits cheesecake (THB120/$4.60) and sit by the window for the calming ocean breeze.

Where to stay

For some of the best vistas in Phuket, book a stay at the ultra-luxe Sri Panwa. The resort, which is situated amidst 40 acres of lush, tropical surroundings, was awarded the title of “Best Resort in Thailand” at the Lonely Planet Traveller Destination Awards 2013. And it’s not difficult to see why—it’s absolutely stunning, and each of the villas and pool suites boast private infinity pools affording guests with gorgeous views of the sea. The interiors are also top-notch—think terra-cotta style furnishings, state of the art entertainment systems, ginormous jacuzzi tubs and more. Some of the resort’s facilities include the award-winning Cool Spa, in-house restaurant Baba Soul Food (serving up authentic Thai cuisine), Baba Poolclub (for more laid-back dining) and the breathtaking Baba Nest (a rooftop bar where you’ll get to enjoy cocktails with a glorious sunset view). Prices start from THB19,140 ($749) for a pool suite and THB29,260 ($1145) for a pool villa; they’re indubitably the high side, but we daresay that it’ll be worth every penny. 

Essentials

GETTING THERE

Air Asia, Jetstar, Tigerair, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines all fly to Phuket from Singapore so you can generally find a pretty affordable flight deal (from $150 return). Once at Phuket airport, the drive to Cape Panwa takes about an hour, easily arranged through your hotel or a taxi booked once you land.

VISA, CURRENCY AND TAX

Singapore citizens or passport holders do not require a visa for stays of up to one month in Thailand.

$1=THB 25

WHEN TO GO

Aim to visit from December through March, when the worst of the monsoon season has eased up and there are cool breezes to make things less humid.