Water Sports in Phuket

Sea kayaking is great fun
Sea kayaking is great fun

Millions of visitors come to Phuket each year to enjoy the sun and beautiful beaches of the Andaman Sea. The waters are warm and pristine, and the calm waves make for safe, yet exciting, jet-skiing, sailing and fishing. Yacht and boating clubs are plentiful along the coast. Lessons in any Phuket water sport and for any level are available.

There is a plethora of tours that travel from Phang Nga to the southernmost point of Nai Harn, allowing visitors to explore the dramatic karst islands, or get in touch with nature by floating along in a kayak. While you’re out on the water, grab your snorkelling gear and see some of the most colourful fish and coral reefs in Thailand.

Watersports in Phuket

Fishing: Phuket is becoming a popular destination for sport fishing and angling. King mackerel, sea bass and black marlins are just a few of the game fish species you’ll see along the mangrove estuaries and in the deeper regions of the Andaman Sea. Thailand has a very strict catch-and-release policy, ensuring the environment’s well-being and many future opportunities to catch a big one.

Canoeing and sea kayaking: A quiet, laid-back experience with nature can be had by floating past tropical flora and listening to the chatter of monkeys and birds. Or grab your oars and head for the adventures of the white water rapids that lie inland and challenge all levels of experience. Here, Phuket’s famous limestone cave systems (hongs in Thai) can be explored in inflatable canoes, which are specially designed to navigate narrow passages. When the sun reaches inside the roofless caves, the stalactites glisten in the warm waters. John Gray Sea Canoe offers the excellent ‘Hong by Starlight’ tour.

Jet-skiing: One of Phuket’s most popular sports partly because it’s fast, fun and easy to learn. At the moment only five beaches allow legal use of jet-skis: Patong, Kamala, Karon, Bangtao and Kata.

When sea conditions are too rough for jet-skiing, red flags are posted. All water activities are then restricted. Although jet-skis are easy to use, it’s highly recommended to follow the rules of the beach and drive responsibly. A life jacket is given to every rider and passenger, and riders must stay within 500m of the coastline.

Make sure you have insurance, too, and check over the machine thoroughly before taking it out, pointing out (and photographing) any previous damage to the owner!

Scam Alert!
The jetski damage ruse has been going strong for several years and despite a high profile international documentary expose, the police seem to let the jetski owners continue scamming tourists. It’s quite simple, you rent a jetski, signing a contract that says ‘no insurance’, and then when you return it the operator claims you’ve caused damaged, pointing to pre-existing marks. When you refuse to pay the $500 they ask for, they threaten to take it to the police where ‘it’s, likely to cost more’. When you refuse, they get heavy. The very best advice we can give is to NOT RENT JETSKIS IN THAILAND, or else agree to go to the police, insisting they take you to the charge office (avoid mediators in uniform), and ask to call your local consulate.

Note: To find the best rate Hotels in Phuket, and we’ve lined up the web’s biggest room booker, Agoda.com, for an instant search. Dozens of cheap guesthouses are also listed.

Diving: Known as one of the best diving spots in the world, Phuket boasts colourful marine life, unique underwater rock formations and warm waters year-round. Along the shores of some of the most popular beaches, visibility can easily exceed 30m. The best dive sites are on the western side of the island in close proximity to Nai Harn Beach, while some divers enjoy sightings of sharks and manta rays in the waters around Phi Phi. There are numerous diving courses available across Phuket offering dive certifications. Diving day trips are extremely popular and can accommodate all levels…more on scuba diving.

Parasailing: Definitely one of those sports you see in action and want to try yourself, and if you’re on Patong beach you’ll see the ‘chute’ drifting along the beach at all times of the day. Although not strictly performed in water, parasailing takes place off beaches, towed by a speed boat over the waves. It’s a thrilling ride that affords the best views of the whole Phuket west coast. It’s also offered on other main beaches like Karon. Just show up and you’ll soon be harnessed up and in the air for a 15-minute ride.

Snorkelling: A great way for families to see Phuket’s underwater community. Snorkels, masks and fins are all that’s needed (and a t-shirt and sun block if you want to avoid looking like one of the brightly-coloured sea creatures). The Andaman offers some amazing marine life, including exotic fish, giant crabs, brilliantly-coloured coral reefs, and amazing rock formations. Do follow safety precautions and go with a partner if swimming isn’t your strong point. Undertows can be dangerous along the west coast and if red flags are posted, swimming is prohibited. It’s best to go on a day tour as is can be difficult to find offshore reefs, plus the locals know the best spots at Poda and Gai (chicken) islands, which are pristine.

Surfing: Kata and Nai Harn seem to get the biggest waves, but they’re actually quite modest and restricted to the monsoon season. This makes them ideal for learning and some companies based at Kata offer lessons and boards for rent, if the surf’s up!

Sailing: Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Le, featured in the movie The Beach, are among the most scenic islands in Thailand. Boat and yacht rentals are available to meet any budget, and the islands offer some good places to anchor. Daytrip excursions are available from Phuket, which also allow sailing enthusiasts excellent fishing opportunities. Tours are a great ways to lay back and let someone else take the helm. Boats are available for charter or you can join a daily sailing of one of the tours, with Phang Nga Bay being the most popular and rewarding…more on sailing.

Windsurfing: See the mountains, coastline and sunset from a new perspective. Although half the beaches offer windsurfing in Phuket, Patong is the most popular location for this sport. Lessons and equipment are readily available on the beach; however, some of the larger hotels and independent vendors may offer better quality equipment. The best Phuket windsurfing opportunities are during the monsoon season from November to May. It is advisable to avoid windsurfing in Phuket during high tides.