For the adventurous, Phuket’s geographical location can be seen as both its blessing and its curse. A tropical island replete with beautiful beaches, great scuba diving locations, waterfall strewn national parks, breathtaking limestone cliffs, passable hiking and surfing; there’s no shortage of activities here to satiate your exploratory yearnings. However, on the down side, all this warm weather and talk of pretty beaches has made Phuket prime tourist country, so those coming here to check out all the natural adventure southern Thailand has to offer will likely have to share the experience with thousands of foreign partiers and sun-seekers. Still interested? Good. Then take a look at a few of your best options for outdoor excitement in the land of the Big Buddha.
When talking about things to do on an island, it’s hard to avoid starting with the water. Phuket is strategically located with access to some of Thailand’s most popular scuba diving destinations, including the Similan Islands and, further to the north, the Surin Islands and renowned Richelieu Rock. There’s also no shortage of diving and boating options around nearby Ko Phi Phi, which has become a major attraction for visitors in its own right. To the northwest, the incredible limestone karsts and cliffs jutting out of Phang Nga Bay are a rock climber’s and kayaker’s dream come true, while a little closer to home there are plenty of surf-able beaches up and down Phuket’s western coastline.
Should you feel like remaining landlocked, your options are more limited but not altogether nonexistent. On the island itself you’ll find some well traversed hiking trails and refreshing waterfalls in Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, as well as some lesser known trekking to Phuket’s highest peak near the popular Kathu waterfall. Further north, those hiking the Sa Nang Manora forest can check out some (literally) cool waterfalls and caves along various trails through its shady interior, while Khlong Phanom National Park offers plenty of adventure options within the Phuket Mountain Range. In short, as long as you don’t mind hunting for seclusion and sharing major attractions with a crowd, there’s plenty to keep you exploring the great outdoors on the islands of southern Thailand. You just have to get out and experience it.