A team of Phuket officials, led by Chief of the Phuket Natural and Environment Office Wattanapong Suksai, recently inspected remote Freedom Beach on the west side of the bluff at the southern end of Patong Beach, wrongly reported in some media as being part of Karen Beach.
The beach is locally known as “Mai Ngao” Beach but famously known by tourists as Freedom Beach. It is situated on the coastal strip at the bottom of the Nak Kerd Mountain Reserve, with the access point about a 5 minute drive south of Patong Beach. Access to the beach has always been difficult by foot, and best approached by boat.
But foreigners love it and where the tourists go, so do the vendors and touts.
Google Maps of Freedom Beach location
Despite being one of the prettiest and more difficult-to-access beaches on the island, with its soft white sand and clear blue waters, it’s secluded and difficult to reach. Tourists have to walk for about a kilometre through a forest from the main Patong – Karon road to the beach. Some routes even require entering through private lands, which some tourists had to pay for in the past, another point of contention for Park officials.
If entering by boat from another beach to the Freedom beach, the cost is generally about 1,200 baht to 3,000 baht for the boat ride.
Freedom Beach has been previously designated a “protected beach” so it’s illegal to have sun lounges and umbrellas available for rent to tourists on the beach. On an earlier inspection a small restaurant was ordered to pack up and stop trespassing on the beach.
During yesterday’s inspection, the team found that the beach was cleared of all beach beds, umbrellas, and structures after a full crackdown earlier this week.
Although the beach vendors removed their businesses from the beach after the earlier inspections, they were back again after a week.
The land owners who have land that extends to the beach were also told that they cannot collect entrance fees from tourists. If they continue to do so, they will face legal action. The Chief noted that there are also free access routes to the beach if tourists want to walk there.
Despite being a sought after visit among foreign beach enthusiasts, it remains secluded and difficult to access. The aim of the Parks official visit was to keep the beach pristine and to avoid it being commercialised.
With the recent inspections Freedom Beach remains a strictly BYO visit, so bring your own umbrella, water, towel and snacks (and take the rubbish with you when you leave).