This might come as a surprise even for experienced surfers, but surfing in Thailand does exist!
Phuket, the largest island and the second-smallest province of Thailand, is probably the most popular tourist destination in the region. And no wonder! It has a great lot offer - from Muay Thai boxing camps and cooking classes to diving and yoga. But most vacationers come to Phuket for the only reason – its stunning beaches.
Just a little more 5 years ago people would barely know that waves that hit Phuket west coast are actually surfable. But today the surfing culture on the island is developing rapidly and more and more tourists are getting into surfing.
What time of year can you surf?
The high season for tourists starts in November and lasts until April. Starting from May the island begins to desolate. It rains almost every day and the Andaman Sea becomes unfriendly to swimmers and beach crawlers.
In June you can find waves rising up to three meters. And this is when surfers come to play with them. The surf season therefore is June to September.
Where can you surf?
Of course, there’s no comparison to the swell of Bali. But if you’re a beginner and you want both – have an exciting vacation and learn to surf in a relatively safe environment – Phuket is the place to go.
There more than 25 beaches on the island. Most of them are concentrated on the west coast and look like Paradise. Even during the low season.
Looking for the best surfing spot is every surfer’s daily routine. When it comes to Thailand, the swell here is very inconsistent so if you see a wave – go catch it! Don’t waste tour time looking around and waiting for better conditions – they might only worsen.
Surfing-wise, Phuket beaches can be divided into three types:
- for beginners
- for intermediate level
- for experienced surfers
Patong and Kata Noi beaches fall under the first category. Patong is also a Mecca for party and shopping lovers. Basically this is the most touristy area on the island. Which is perfect for newbies as you most likely would want to relax and have fun after the tiresome training.
If you already surf and need to practice catching a wave but don’t want to “swim in the kids’ pool”, go to Kamala or Bang Tao. Both beaches are quite long – 2 and 6 km respectively. Enter in the middle of each to find surf schools and surf rental shops.
Surin and Nai Harn have the heaviest waves, but be particularly careful with the last one. The reef break in its northern part is tricky and each year it takes the lives of a couple of inexperienced swimmers.
But Surin is just perfect. It has been included in World's 50 best surf spots by CNN Travel.
There’s not many more spots I can recommend to experienced surfers though. The inconsistency of the swell may be fun but if you’re looking for a real rally – honestly, Phuket is not the best choice.
But if you are a professional and happen to be in Thailand, don’t miss Kata Beach – a must-visit for every surfer, as this is the epicentre of Phuket surfing life.
This is where you can find surf schools, rental shops, surf bars and even an artificial surf park.
An average soft-top board rent will cost you about $15 USD a day and $200 USD a month.
If you’re a newcomer, you will definitely need a couple of theoretical lessons and practice on the beach before you can even go into the water with your board.
Surf lesson prices in Phuket vary between $35 and $50 per lesson including equipment.
There’s a number of surf bars in Kata, like The Tube, where you can meet with fellow surfers and watch your favourite surf videos while having drinks or dinner.
The most popular night-life spot would be Surf House. The idea of this venue is similar to a water park, yet it’s not one. They have a trampoline-like water slide with an artificial consistent wave where you can make your first steps in surfing. They also provide instructors who will be eager to teach you the basics.
The most outstanding feature of Surf House is that the place where you train is also the place where people are having drinks and snacks. So yes, it’s also a bar. With music, fun and all the other components. The crow is normally very supportive so you will feel like a star even if you can’t stand straight up on the board. It's a great place to learn before you hit the ocean!
A one-hour ride will cost you about $22 USD but you will have to queue as there are normally more than one rider per lane. Or you can make a private booking for $200 USD per lane and enjoy the whole lane and a dedicated instructor for the whole hour.
By Kate Rutkovskaya