As with any sand-strewn, sun-blessed location, the best beaches in Krabi are open to interpretation. Lively and atmospheric beaches might strike fear into the heart of hikers and wildlife seekers, while calm and quiet sands will repel crowd seekers looking for a place to mingle. Naturally, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to sort the sand from the shingle and pick out spots where everyone can find their spot to contemplate life from their beach mat. The best part about Krabi beaches? Every single one will leave you wanting more.
It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Railay Beach could ruin all future coastal experiences for you, such is its beauty. So the beach that travellers come to Krabi for has a lot to live up to. And, happily, it does. Only accessible by boat, the beach’s towering limestone cliffs put a stop to explorers schlepping in on foot. No matter, because the breathtaking boat ride in is all part of Railay’s charms. Once you’re ashore, you’re amid gently rustling palms, picture-perfect sand and shallow waters calm enough for little ones to splish-splash in. And so, as with all wondrous places, you’ll be looking for the catch. On Railay, those catches come in threes. Crowds, cost and cliffs. Everyone wants to come here, so the sands get busy. And, because this stretch of coast is so popular, the few bars and restaurants that line the shore, well… they charge a premium.
And the cliffs? Sure, they are stunning as they rise up majestically from the clear waters – but, they also prevent any inland escapes from the crowds. Verdict: drop in if you’re visiting the Railay peninsula, but get here early to see the beach at its best.
If Railay beach is Krabi’s wild and secluded spot, Nopparat Thara is the region’s amenity-stacked stretch of sand. That’s not to say this spot in the Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park is excessively commercial. You’ll struggle to find a sunbed or parasol for a start. But it is easily accessed by road, has a smattering of restaurants and bars and has a boat-free section of water for swimming. The sands extend for 3kms, though some parts are preferable to others. Being close to the road, and several landing points for the iconic long-tail boats, makes some parts of the beach a tad noisy. Though, that’s easily remedied by heading for the welcome calm of the western end of the beach, where a sand bar curves out into the bay.
Emerald and Blue Pools
Fair warning. These pools aren’t beaches. But, they do deserve a spot on any Krabi beach rundown, because one pool at least, does allow the opportunity for a dip. Swimming aside, these stunning natural pools, with their tropical but natural soundtrack from the surrounding jungle, are the reason you’re here in Krabi. Relatively untouched wonders you’ll not find anywhere remotely close to home. When you arrive, you’ll walk for around 10 minutes, through the jungle and past waterfalls until you reach the Emerald Pool. This is the one to swim in, enjoy the mineral rich waters and generally frolic to your heart’s content. Further along the path, the Blue Pool is one of Krabi’s best natural wonders – but is absolutely off limits for swimming. Labelling it treacherous isn’t a healthy and safety over reaction by any means. Quick sand style silt on the bottom and all manner of other dangers lurk here.
Orbzii tip: Signposts from Krabi to the Emerald Pool start out well, but the closer you get to the area, the quality tails off. Keep following signs for the Emerald Pool, but prepare to be brave and switch to the signs labelled Sa Morakot or Chrystal Pond.
One of the best beaches in Krabi for backpackers is Ton Sai beach. It asks little of your budget but brings a lot to your overall coastal experience. There’s much to do, if hiking, rock climbing and slack lining appeal. Sea kayaking comes at a small cost, but you’ll get wonderful views of this Krabi gem as you gently paddle past the shoreline of laidback sunbathers napping in the sun. Street food in the nearby kiosks is cheap, though do keep your travel wits about you when you’re choosing menu items. Happy shakes and peace cookies contain ingredients that are, shall we say, mood altering. That said, it does account for the distinctly laidback vibes you’ll find here. At night, fire dancing sees lit pois being swung in every direction. Which only adds another tick in the box for Ton Sai. On this beach, you can laze on the sands all day and get your adrenaline kicks vicariously through others.
Orbzii tip: Before the backpackers descended, this beach was the home to a local troupe of monkeys. They still prowl the sands looking for unattended bags to rummage through. Here, it pays to keep an eye on your snacks.
Ao Nang Beach
Before you set sail on a Krabi island sightseeing trip, it pays to scope out the mainland beaches. Ao Nang is the livelier of Krabi’s collection of sand stretches, but its proximity to local amenities, and the incredible sunset views make it worth a look. By day, the central beach will look temptingly quiet – but whether that’s due to the lack of shade, poor visibility in the water or something else is up for debate. The water’s edge does get crowded at times. This is the spot where the countless long-tails come ashore to pick up and drop off explorers heading to other islands. At face value, Ao Nang’s a great example of a town beach. Replicated the world over, it’s a stretch of sand that’s unfeasibly close to every shop, bar and restaurant you could wish for. Yes, there are better beaches in Krabi, but few are as convenient if you’re in the mood to mix urban antics with a quick swim.
Wondering what to do in Krabi? Popping to Klong Muang beach for a massage should feature somewhere on your list. Actually, scratch that. Visiting Klong Muang beach should be at the top of your coastal plans. It’s a mainland stunner that, tucked away to the west, never really draws the numbers beaches such as Ao Nang or Railay beach attract. Spas and gorgeous beach bars line the shore, with small, warm waves lapping at your feet at high tide. At night, twinkling lights strewn in the trees light the way to cocktails and long, condensation-glistened drinks. That’s if you’ve not already secured a prime spot to see the sunset. Relatively unspoilt, it won’t be long before this beach starts to attract more attention. File this one under ‘best kept secret’ and enjoy it before the word really gets out.
If you find yourself feeling a very strong sense of deja vu at Phra Nang, fear not. This is no out of body experience. The long, golden shoreline, towering offshore island and lofty palms here are imprinted on all of our wanderlust addled minds. This is the landscape every travel book, magazine and website uses to lure us in our droves to Thailand every year. And, with good reason. This beach is quite simply stunning. There’s just one problem. We are not content to experience this with our eyes only. We’ve got to get our feet on the soft sands, paddle in the welcoming shallows and generally bask in nature’s glorious creation. All of us. Every last nomadic Thai traveller winds up here. And, despite our best efforts, you will too. It verges on the compulsory.
Naturally, it pays to pitch up before everyone else. But will you heed our sage travel advice? It’s likely your impossibly comfy bed, hotel buffet or sea kayak excursion could delay you. But, don’t say we didn’t warn you. Expect crowds, and you’ll do just fine.