Hat Kamala is a lovely stretch of sand and sea about 4km south of Surin and 25km from Phuket. The northern end (the nicest area) is shaded by casuarina trees and feaÂtures a small thatched-roof snack bar. Please note: Most of the locals here are Muslim and would find topless bathing extremely offensive.
Phuket Fantasea (0 7638 5000; open 5.30pm-11.30pm Wed-Mon), a US$60 millionÂ cultural theme park’, is located just north of Hat Kamala. Despite the billing, there aren’t any rides but there is a truly magical show that manÂages to capture the colour and pageantry of traditional Thai dance and costumes and combine them with state-of-the-art light and sound techniques that rival anything found in Las Vegas (think 30 elephants). All of this takes place on a stage dominated by a full-scale replica of a Khmer temple remiÂniscent of Angkor Wat. Kids especially would be captivated by the spectacle. There is also quite a good and varied collection of souvenir shops in the park offering Thai-made handicrafts. The Thai buffet dinner is surprisingly good. Tickets can be booked through most hotels and tour agencies.
Places to Stay Kamala is seeing a fair bit of development as small places expand and go upscale, but budget options can be found
few minutes’ walk from the beach. There are eight beautiful, comfortable, clean and well-furnished rooms at this small and intiÂmate hotel. All come with hot water, TV, fridge and good decor.
Benjamin Resort (fax 0 7638 5739; rooms with air-con in low season 350-500B, in high season 700-800B) is very good value. All rooms have TV, minibar and a terrace with table and chairs. The more expensive rooms have sea views, some of which are glorious. The hotel, built in 2001, is on the beach.
Pa Pa Crab Guesthouse (fax 0 7638 5315; rooms with fan/air-con in low season 450/7008, in high season 600/8508) has 10 well-decorated, comfortable rooms and a lovely colour scheme, but will close in low season if business is slow.
Thai Kamala Village (0 7627 9795, fax 0 7627 9797; rooms in low/high season 1200/18008) is another almost-new hotel directly on the beach. All of the 17 air-con rooms face the bay, offerÂing excellent views from their balconies. They are simply but tastefully decorated, and aligned perfectly to catch the sea breeze. There’s a restaurant as well, which is open in the high season only.
Phuket Kamala Resort (0 7621 2775, fax 0 7621 1841; bungalows with air-con in low/high season 1250/16508) is a moderÂately upmarket resort across the street from the beach. It features tennis courts, a pool and a fitness centre. The 40 bungalows have private balconies, minibar and TV.
Kamala Beach Estate ( 0 7627 9756, fax 076324115; apartments in low season US$95-190, in high season US$120-235, villas low/high season US$255/350) is at the southern end of the bay, overlooking the beach. It boasts fully equipped, high-security modern apartments, suites and villas â€” some with a kitchen and fantastic sea views. The manicured grounds feature an outdoor Jacuzzi, a lovely pool and an on-site restaurant. Each unit is indiÂvidually owned and thus uniquely different; 20% are solely owner-occupied. The villas are especially beautifully laid out, with huge flagstone terraces and loads of comfortable and bright space.
Places to Eat The best value for eating is the friendly no-name thatched-roof restaurant
at the northern end of the beach. There are others like it a little to the south. Kamala Seafood (closed in low season), near the centre of the beach, is a decent family-run Thai seafood restaurant catering to farang
The Balcony Bar & Restaurant ( 0 7627 9756 ext 132; dishes 80-2508), at Kamala Beach Estate on the southern end of the bay, is the most upmarket place to eat; it offers good views of the bay, reliable Thai and Western food and a decent wine list.
Getting There & Around A regular sawngthaew between Kamala and Patong costs 20B per person, while a charter costs 250B.