Rawai Beach is popular with Thai locals from Phuket town who have been coming here to enjoy seafood and the lovely view of the islands from the shore since before the times when Phuket became a popular tourist destination.
Swimming is safe due to the fact that it faces Phang Nga Bay, but the beach itself is not that nice with many small boats anchored off the shore.
There is a small market where you can buy handicrafts and assorted Thai snacks. There is also a sea-gypsy village at the eastern end of Rawai. The nearby viewpoint at Laem Phrom Thep, the southernmost tip of the island, is particularly popular at sunset.