Phuket is Thailand's largest island, a idyllic site for the country's premier international beach resort. Much of the island's charm is that the ocean facing west coast is lined with a series of bays where white sand beaches span between two rocky points. This makes for a series of relatively intimate places rather than one big unbroken stretch of sand lined with high rise hotels and packed with people. See the Phuket beaches page for an overall map to the main beaches and towns of the island.
As befits a mature international resort destination, Phuket has a large variety of sun and surf activities so there's something for just about everyone. See our list of things to see and do for some ideas about what Phuket has to offer. Some would argue that Phuket's development as an international destination has made it a little less exotic. While this is certainly true of some places, there's still a lot of local color to be found for those willing to step away from the beach and look for it.
Of course, we can't talk about Phuket without mentioning the tsunami which affected a wide area of the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004. The big wave affected different beaches to varying degrees. Karon, which has a rather steep beach, was relatively unaffected, while Patong's long gentle slope allowed the water to flow several blocks inland and well past the second floor of the buildings nearer the beach. Many businesses in Patong were effectively destroyed.
However, the wave had barely receded when re-building began to be discussed. Many businesses were able to re-open within three or four months, although some hotels took slightly longer. By the time we next visited in November 2005, just a month shy of one year since the tsunami, things were pretty much back to normal. There are lots of shiny new taxis, tuk-tuks and buildings, but other than that there is very little sign of the event that took so many lives.