Mai Khao (หาดไม้ขาว Hat Mai Khao) is a beach on the northwestern side of Phuket, Thailand. It’s also known as Airport Beach or Sanambin Beach (the Thai word for “airport”), as it’s very close to the airport. The northern portion is known as Hat Sai Khao (หาดทรายแก้ว), a long sandy beach with groves of Casuarina trees along the shore.
It was once a nesting area for the endangered Giant Leatherback turtle but unfortunately due to egg poaching, resort development and pollution they no longer exist here. Mai Khao beach is often incorrectly described as ‘pristine’ by some of the resorts brochures and websites which in reality is far from the truth. There is much pollution scattered along the length of the beach especially during low season which to date (18th July 2011) has never been cleared except areas directly in front of the few resorts.
Most of the rubbish could be avoided by regular cleaning by the National Park and sustainable wast management programs supported by improved education to protect the environment in the local schools. The area around Mai Khao is still very quiet and natural but although declared a National Park in 1981, it is seriously in danger of over development in the near future as landowners give in to the high prices offered by foreign funded developers and plans are approved by corrupt government officials without public enquiry.