When people say they don’t like Phuket they usually mean they don’t like Patong Beach and all the night clubs and girlie bars that goes with it. Well I presume they mean Patong as that is just one rawdy beach town on an island that is 48 km long (and the largest in Thailand).
I have been to Phuket a few times now and when I go I like to visit the old town of Phuket Town and check out some other beaches. The best way to see other parts of the island is by scooter, but if you are not a bike rider a songthaew is a cheap option. I stayed at Panwa Beach, which has a few hotels and a still-working fishing village nearby.