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Surfing in Phuket

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Although Thailand is not known for world class waves, surfers have been coming here for over 25 years now. They are obviously keeping the secret between them and the surfing world. Many come back stay longer each time.

As more people came here seeking what this country had to offer, they saw what they thought couldn’t be true – good-sized waves breaking on a sandy beach. People talked, and the word spread quickly. Surf shops started springing up, clubs were formed, surf contests help, and of course surf schools and surfboards for hire.

Thailand’s surf is ruled by seasons. The west coast has waves in the wet monsoon season from May to October, and the east coast from November to April. Both need storm activity and winds to bring up the ocean swells. The west coast swells are dominantly from the south to southwest. Occasionally, swells roll in from the west and northwest created by low pressure systems. The winter below the Equator produces most of the surf that hits the west coast. These produce ground swells (those that travel a long distance and have a corduroy look to them). The roaring forties are storms that travel from a west to an easterly direction (Africa to Australia). These giant storm fronts push swells up into the Indian Ocean traveling thousands of miles pounding on reefs and open beaches.

The South is slightly blocked by Indonesia. Traveling swells have to wrap around the northern tip of Banda Aceh in Indonesia before they hit the open reefs and beaches of Thailand. The swells that finally reach Phuket are about one third the size of what Indonesia has just experienced. Swells traveling from the west and northwest will not decrease in size but they are not as common.

With the dominant southwest trade winds consistently blowing, small local swells are produced and make fun little waves for all. Unfortunately, as the summer starts up in the Southern Hemisphere the low pressure systems of the roaring forties drop too low and the swells can’t reach as far as Thailand. The trade winds change to the east and the Andaman sea becomes a beautiful sheet of glass.

Phuket is probably the unofficial leader of the Thailand surfing industry and the number of local Thai surfers is increasing every year. It is Thailand’s largest island. Dubbed the “Pearl of the Andaman,” it is blessed with a world full of activities and ocean sports, including surfing. This cosmopolitan island has beautiful beaches and clear blue waters teeming with tropical fish. The island’s southwestern side is loaded with amenities and entertainment options. During the surf season the popular surf beaches come alive with surf fever. Phuket is now popular as a surfing destination.

Phuket’s water temperature is a stable 28 degrees Celsius, making it suitable for surfing in board shorts alone. As the surf season becomes more dominant the waves can reach around two meters which makes it great fun for all surfers, but in general the average height is one meter. There are multiple choices for surfboard rentals and surf lessons available at popular sports such as Kata beach. These surf shops are situated right on the beach and are very well priced compared to other world surfing destinations.

The best time for surfing Phuket is from end of April to September. The best months are usually at the beginning and end of the season -May/June and September.
The west coast of Phuket has many beautiful beaches and headlands and there are many surf spots known and some not so well known. There are also islands and reefs just offshore which are surfable in the right conditions. On the east coast of Phuket most of the beaches are muddy mangrove areas and are protected from the swells.

Common questions about surf in Phuket

Is there surf in September? Sometimes if you are lucky, about 60% chance of getting waves.
Is there surf in October? Sometimes if you are lucky, but generally don’t count on it. 20% chance.
Is there surf in November? Sometimes if you are lucky, but generally don’t count on it. 5% chance.
Is there surf in December, January, February? Not usually. 1% chance.
Is there surf in March, April? Sometimes if you are lucky, but generally don’t count on it. 10% chance.

In saying that, there are exceptions. As we said….you might be lucky!

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