Bang Tao Beach isa large open bay, and second longest beach on Phuket at over 8 km long. It was once used for tin mining, but has since been developed into a luxury resort. Most of it is occupied by the Laguna complex, a massive five-hotel development with golf course. There are, however, accommodations available outside Laguna at the bay's south end. Travellers without a super-sized budget shouldn't be scared off by this mega-resort as the southern stretch is home to enough mid-range options that Bang Tao is still worth considering.
Dry season swimming is excellent, and at the bay's north end is a smaller bay, almost completely enclosed, at the mouth of which is some fine coral. Plenty of places to eat, tour companies, and other tourist facilities are available either at Laguna or in the nearby town of Choeng Thale.
The area around Bang Tao Beach was formerly tin-mining country and the Laguna Complex's artificial lakes are actually filled-in pits. Much of northern Phuket, Bang Tao included, was almost completely abandoned when the mines ran dry. It wasn't until droves of tourists began to arrive that interest in Bang Tao was re-sparked, and parcels of land were quickly and sometimes illicitly snatched up by property developers.
To this day controversy surrounds ownership of some parcels of land in both the Bang Tao Beach area and sections of Khao Lak. Corrupt politicians and other people of influence have, across the country, often tried to take advantage of Thailand's sometimes vague land title system and Phuket has some prime examples of this type of abuse.
But swathes of dodgy land deals shouldn't bother slowly bronzing tourists and Bang Tao Beach remains a fine area for a bit of bronzing. The beach is long and the waters calm. There's plentiful shade and in high season this area is a hit for water-sports.