Where to Surf in Phuket
In case you didn't know it, Phuket's West Coast is gaining a reputation as a surf destination. Okay, so this is no Waikiki, and surfers here would be the first to admit that, but the island's West Coast is the best place for surfing in Thailand.
Here's a brief surfing guide to Phuket's beaches.
Learning to Surf in Phuket
As surfing is not a major sporting pastime in Phuket there are relatively few places to rent boards or to receive surfing lessons but the best bet for the aspiring surfer is to head over to Kata Beach where boards, instructors and - most importantly - waves are available. You may be able to rent at other beaches such as Patong but waves are not guaranteed.
At Kata there are two surf shops and seven beach outlets where you can rent a board. Surfboards cost 150 baht per hour, 500 baht a day and 7,000 baht a month. Please remember that these are starting prices and that some outlets charge more.
Private instructors cost 800 baht per hour – 1,500 to 3,000 baht for two hours, depending on which company you are dealing with.
For those who don't do things by halves, there is a small selection of new boards for sale at Cobra in Chalong.
Surfing Competitions in Phuket
There are three main annual surf contests in Phuket. The Phuket Surfing Contest is held at Kata Beach, and has been running for the past seven years. It usually takes place in mid-September but this year it will be from August 31 till September 2. There are cash prizes of more than 100,000 baht to be won. For more information, please contact Wallop Nadon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Scroll to the end for special hotel offers for the event.
Kalim Beach hosts the Kalim Surf Contest. Organized by members of the Phuket Board Rider Club, the 2007 contest took place in late June with 80 surfers participants, cheered on by an audience of over 200 enthusiasts. This was its third year.
Then there is the Kamala Go Surfing Contest. This year it will be held from August 25-26 at the northernmost end of Kamala Beach. This contest will mark its fifth year. Again, it is organized by locals - members of Kamala Go Surfing Club.
For more information on the last two events, please contract Chanin Aiyarak at email@example.com
Where to Surf in Phuket - Beaches
Bang Tao Beach Surfing
The middle of the beach is protected from the swells and some smaller waves are eminently rideable. Further north along the beach the waves get bigger as it is exposed to the wind. Shifting sandbanks make the going unpredictable, though, but sometimes it is near perfect here.
Details: Southerly winds with waves up to three metres.
Kalim Beach Surfing
Kalim Beach is one of the better surf beaches on Phuket and when other beaches are impossible many surfers head to Kalim as it is protected from the swell. On wild weather days there are waves to ride further out towards the headland. The wave ride is about 50-100 metres long and gets very shallow at the end. Quite a busy surfing location.
Details: Winds are southeast to northeast with swell up to three metres. Shallow coral reef break.
Kamala Beach Surfing
This north end of Kamala's northernmost beach is a beach break with stable sandbanks, due to the reefs. Here, there are consistent waves of up to three metres and they build up the closer to shore you get.
Details: Variable winds with swell up to three metres. There is a point break for experienced surfers.
Karon Beach Surfing
Karon is not so popular with surfers as it is very open to conditions. With constantly shifting sandbanks it is not a reliable location and just about anywhere else is better. However, you can surf when there are small swells and no wind.
Details: Karon's shifting sandbanks mean swell from all directions. Winds are light and changeable and waves are up to two metres.
Kata Beach Surfing
Kata Beach is the surfing capital of Phuket. Renowned for its consistent surf, this is the logical venue for the island's biggest annual surfing competition.
For many, the south end of the beach (outside Kata Beach Resort) offers the best board riding in Phuket and this is why Kata Beach can get rather busy at times. Still, the ambience in the waves and on the beach itself is friendly, international and laid back. Many surfers join in at the volleyball net afterwards and there is even a surfer's bar close by.
There is a car park a stone's throw from the main surfing drag and spectators can watch from under the shade of rocket trees that line the beach.
The waves are fast but manageable and at times can really buck high at the sandbar and this, in essence, is what provides the thrill of catching a break at the south part of Kata Beach.
Details: Winds are southwest to northeast. Swell is up to two metres. There is a beach break at the southern end of the beach.
Kata Noi Beach Surfing
Here, the good waves are usually off the northern headland and can be quite fast, but good at times. The right-hander main wave breaks near the northern headland.
Details: Winds are southeasterly to northeasterly with waves up to two metres. Beach break.
Laem Singh Beach Surfing
Rock formations along Laem Singh Beach offer some very fast surfing. Here, you can surf on most tides as each little swell is picked up.
Details: Protected from winds with swell up to three metres. Very fast.
Mai Khao Beach Surfing
Very inconsistent surfing here due to a steep drop-off. This makes for big shore breaks but not a lot more. If you go to where Phang Nga Bay meets the Andaman Sea there are swells of up to two metres and varying conditions.
Details: Winds northwest to southeast. Swell up to two metres.
Nai Harn Beach Surfing
At the south end of this beach there is a permanent sandbank that gives a good and often fast ride, even in the smallest swells. At the northern end (right next to Le Royal Meridien Yacht Club) there is a beach-and-reef break in the corner. This break can hold large swells and can at times get pretty potent.
Details: Winds are variable with waves up to three metres.
Nai Thon Beach Surfing
Can get choppy, and care must be taken of the rocks.
Details: Winds northwest to southeast. Swell up to three metres.
Nai Yang Beach Surfing
There is a large coral reef a distant paddle from the beach that can mean great surfing when conditions are right but don't be fooled: it's a long way out. Low tide surfing is good also with unpredictable banks and peaks.
Details: Slight wind with swells up to three metres.
Patong Beach Surfing
The best place to surf at Patong Beach is at the north end, where the waves can be quite good, fast and open to the wind.
Details: Slight winds with waves up to a metre and a half with a beach break.
Surin Beach Surfing
Surin offers some good surfing opportunities at both ends of the beach. There are good waves on the high tide or on the low-mid tide. Watch out for the group of large rocks in the middle of the beach. The last rock at the northern end results in a sandbank with a fast left-hander.
Details: Slight wind with waves up to two metres.