One of the questions we repeatedly get from students interested in studying in Phuket is if it is possible to surf around the area. Let us give you a clear answer: Yes, you can surf in Phuket. There are a few articles written about surfing in Phuket that you can easily find with a little Google-search, yet we’ve summarized all the basic you need to know about surfing in Phuket here. If this information tickles your fancy, drop in and enjoy the ride!
Surf’s up in Kata Beach, Phuket! Photo courtesy of www.surfhousephuket.com
We said it. You can surf in Phuket! While this beautiful holiday island has not traditionally been considered a surf destination, for years expats and dedicated locals have been surfing around Phuket’s west coast. An increasing number of Thai-people have started surfing recently too, and some of the most popular waves around the area may even see a little crowd of surfers when the conditions are right and waves are up. With some 40 odd kilometres of west-facing coastline consisting of bays, points, nice sandy beaches, and a few reefs, Phuket indeed looks like quite a tempting surf destination when first seen on a map.
The whole west coast of Phuket is exposed to any westerly swells. With a little bit of work on Google Maps, by riding around on your motorbike, and by chatting with the locals you will quite quickly start to understand where to go on which days. There are numerous surf breaks that produce waves of varying qualities on a given day, and despite the increasing number of surfers, you can certainly find an empty wave on any day that the winds are light and the surf is up. The Three K’s, Kata, Karon, and Kamala, are beaches that are often surfed by locals and tourists alike. On a smaller day it can be the best to try your luck on a minimal or a long-board, but when the waves get bigger, these beach breaks can get fun and punchy enough for having fun on a short board as well.
Unfortunately though, for those interested in big wave surfing, the Andaman Sea is relatively small and rarely produces swells bigger than 3ft. Phuket is also protected from the swells from the Indian Ocean by Sumatra in the South, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the West, so most often, surfers don’t get to enjoy groundswells from Indian Ocean. However, supposedly on the biggest South-Westerly swells, a solid ground swell will go through past Aceh and North Sumatra, and will light up the coast of Phuket in a way that will make the local surf enthusiast smile for days. There are rumors of reefs that are normally flat starting to work, and Indo-esque, perfectly peeling waves that traveling surfers dream of.
One other thing to notice when planning your surf trip to Thailand though is definitely seasonality. The best surf season for Phuket is considered to be from end of April until October while for the rest of the year the ocean is flat more often than not. The best months to come to Phuket for surfing are often considered to be May and September. During this time there are consistent monsoon winds from North-West producing surfable wind swells up to 4ft. A bigger storm off the coast can bring the waves up during the “off-season” as well, but the chances of you finding waves between November and March are significantly lower. All in all, if you like riding a long board or minimal, and don’t necessarily except to get big waves, Phuket can surprise you positively any time of the year.
For a more detailed spot guide and accurate daily surf forecasts, take a look at Magicseaweed’s Phuket surf guide
Wave spotted, time to paddle out! Photo from our friends at Raya Divers
There are surf shops around Kata and Surin Beach areas, and it is possible to either buy or rent surfboards in Phuket. Many touristy beaches such as Kata Beach have some surfboards for rent too. Renting a board will likely cost you around 500 bath (~13 euros) per day or 6000 baths per month (~150 euros) depending on your bargaining skills. If you are studying in Phuket, and think that you would really like to surf whenever the waves are up, you should definitely consider buying your own one! Many surfboard manufactures are actually producing their epoxy surfboards in Thailand. Such brands as Firewire, Hayden Shapes, Surftech / Tuflite produce some of their boards in Thailand so you may be able to find a quality board for a little less that what you would pay for it back home. If you are serious about surfing, consider bringing your own board though. While there are boards available, many of them are longboards/ fun shapes so if you want anything special, finding it may be a little tricky.
For beginner surfers, or for those willing to refresh their muscle-memory before paddling out by themselves, there are surf schools offering reasonably priced surf lessons. At least Phuket Surf, and Salt Water Surf School offer surfing lessons. At Salt Water Surf School, a group lesson for groups of 2-4 people costs 600 bath per person per hour. By just asking around, you should be able to find someone to give you a surf lesson at least on Kata, Karon, Surin, and Patong Beaches.
On a flat day, or for those just willing to have a bit of fun with friends without having to search for waves, there’s always the artificial wave. At Surf House Phuket you can try your balance on FlowRider for 800 bath an hour. There’s also a nice bar and a restaurant, so you can combine the surfing action into a little outing with your best friends! Asia Exchange students love visiting Surf House for a little session every now and then.