Jet-skiing is for many the best way to have water sports’ fun while on holiday. Those who love to make their own waves can head to Phuket’s main beaches where the machines are for hire.
Where to Enjoy Jetskis
Jet-skis are available for hire at most of the island’s major beaches. It’s a fun and popular activity but it should be noted that, beyond providing life jackets, there is little regard for safety and – on Patong Beach in particular – speedboats and jet-skis can be seen navigating dangerously close to swimmers.
There are currently more than 200 licensed jet-skis in Phuket with over a hundred in Patong and the rest on Bangtao, Kamala, Karon and Kata beaches. Would-be riders should look for the ‘insurance jet ski’ sticker on the vehicle’s side. Beware of the fact that a number of jet-ski operators operate their business without a proper license, not to mention taking out rock-solid insurance.
As with any vehicle hire, make sure you agree on the price, the time and check the state of the vehicle before you use the machine. Most operators provide you with a life vest and it’s definitely a good idea to wear one. On Patong Beach swimmers are cordoned off and outside of these areas jet-ski pilots are free to enjoy ‘life on the fast wave’.
At best this is an annoyance, but there are a number of people who have had their holiday fun ruined by a serious accident. Unless you are confident that the machine, equipment and the insurance are all safe and professional, jet-skiing is not recommended.
A session of 30 minutes costs from 800 up to 1,500 baht depending on when, where and which jet-ski operators you talk to. But you might come across advertising brochures quoting jet-ski rental rates as 1,500 baht for 30 minutes, 2,000 baht for 40 minutes, and 3,000 baht for 60 minutes. An extra rider costs 200 baht.
Did You Know?
- Under Thai law, jet-skis may only be operated by people holding a valid Thai sea captain's license but the regulation is rarely checked or enforced by officers on the island.
- There have been a few distressing stories about false damage accusations when riders return jet-skis. The most publicized of all was when in late 2009 a British documentary called Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand showed footage of JJ, a Patong based jet-ski operator threatening Jack, a British marine, over dubious jet-ski damages at gunpoint. In a short while it got more than a million hits on YouTube.com alone. This episode, as well as increasing complaints from aggrieved riders, changed the entire jet-ski business in Phuket. New regulations have since come out that all jet-skis must be insured, but not all operators obey them.
- A good number to remember if you decide to try a jet-ski is 1155. It is the Tourist Police’s phone number.