Railey Beach is one of the most beautiful locations in southern Thailand. Formed by a crop of white sand that connects the mainland to a signature collection of limestone outcrops, it's a place of natural beauty rarely to be found anywhere in the world.
The area has something for everyone and is a popular spot for rock-climbers, sun hedonists and water babies: mix and match from diving and snorkeling to climbing and beach volleyball. In the evening, regular parties keep the young at heart entertained, while others can relax in one of a decent array of restaurants. There is a full moon party here, though not to the scale of the event on Haad Rin, Koh Phangan. Railey Beach villas provide a refreshing escape from the lively energy of the area.
Krabi is the jumping off point for the Railay beaches. You can reach the eastern beach by longtail direct from Krabi, or, you can take a songtheaw from Krabi to Ao Nang from where you can catch a longtail for the short twenty minute longtail trip to the western beach.
East Railay Bay is home to budget accommodation and is where the boats from Krabi arrive. The mangrove beach is not suitable for swimming, but is lined with restaurants and guesthouses. The atmosphere is unique to Thailand.
Phra Nang Bay is the most beautiful beach in the area and has been taken over by a luxury resort. Public access to the beach is now available after attempts by the resort to close off the sands, but it does get crowded in high season
West Railay Bay is the most popular beach and features mid-range resorts, a couple of restaurants and longtails. The swimming here is good but a little shallow and the boats are present all day with engines running regardless of its effect on the scene. The noise is an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise very enjoyable scene. This area is ok if you plan on bringing your iPod and catching up on tunes.
Tonsai Bay off-the-beaten track but also popular with a specific crowd. Tonsai has world class climbing facilities, so people who like to climb things flock to this place. The crowd here is young, and the vibe is laid back and chilled introspective. Tonsai is a favourite with pot fuelled party goers and so can be fairly entertaining for visitors who can distance themselves from the pretentious silliness of it all. Tonsai villas are exclusive and often require advanced booking.