This exhilarating and impressive extreme sport has witnessed an explosion in popularity in recent years, and there is now an established and vibrant kiteboarding scene in many coastal regions of Thailand, including Hua Hin, Chumpon, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui and Cha-am. Phuket is especially fortunate as its location affords perhaps the best kiteboarding anywhere in Thailand, with the finest and most consistent winds in the country. Thailand now enjoys a very strong reputation in this sport, which has been enhanced by the exposure generated by the yearly championships in places such as Hua Hin. Moreover the warm water, attractive scenery and friendly nature of Thai people encourages people to have a go, and many that do are understandably hooked!
The basic techniques of kiteboarding are quite simple to learn, and most reasonably fit people should be up and running in just a few days. There is usually little down time spent in the water compared with similar water sports such as windsurfing, but it can take a while to master the various techniques and to learn the more expert manoeuvres. Riders stand on a board and are harnessed to a large kite, which catches the wind and propels the rider over the water, sometimes at great speeds. It’s a challenging mixture of balance, skill and strength, and is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding water sports there is for people of all ages and abilities.
In Phuket, there are two ideal times of the year in which to kiteboard. The first is roughly between June and September (the southeast monsoon) when the winds tend to be around 12 to 18 knots (but can be higher), and the second period is between November and February (the northeast monsoon winds, which blow from China) with similar wind speeds.
The two kiteboarding seasons roughly correspond to the low and high tourists seasons in Thailand. In the low season there are many short, sharp bursts of rain and it’s typically very hot, but in the high season blue skies prevail, with fairly calm seas and much less rain. Each season produces optimal conditions in different locations around the island, so it’s not unusual to have to visit several different beaches in order to catch the best winds.
Where to Kiteboard in Phuket
The southeast of the island is especially suitable for beginners and novices, as it has very shallow waters and gentle winds, both essential ingredients for anybody getting to grips with the sport. Popular kiteboarding spots in Phuket are Chalong Bay, Nai Yang Beach (near the airport) on the north west coast, Rawai Beach in the south, and Layan Bay which is also ideal for beginners. More advanced and confident riders will have a much greater choice of surfing locations, and can get on the water even when the winds are stronger.
For anyone that hasn’t experienced kiteboarding, the recommended way to learn is to take a short course with one of the kiteboarding schools located in Phuket. New students are always taught in shallow water and there are normally two per teacher, which is an effective way to learn and means that time is not wasted as it could be in a large group. This is also the best compromise between learning quickly and minimising the total cost.
Most schools offer a special 1 day introductory course which starts at around 4000 baht (with just 2 people in the group), rising to over 6000 baht for a one-on-one private lesson. A more comprehensive 3 day course suitable for beginners starts at around 11,000 baht, or up to 17,000 baht for private tuition. Some schools even provide the latest radio helmets for real time coaching so you can keep in contact with the instructor at all times.
When you have enrolled on a suitable course, all the necessary equipment is provided (which includes the board, kite, lines and harnesses), but you can also rent or buy the kit later from the schools. Renting a comprehensive set of gear for one day can cost as much as 4000 baht, so buying the gear will save you some money in the long run, if you intend to take up the sport regularly. Note that it’s also important to check your kiteboarding instructors are properly trained and certified, for example they will have International Kiteboarding Certification (IKO) status.
The kiteboarding schools listed below are based in Phuket and can provide advice, expert tuition, and equipment rental. Some even have their own beach bars and accommodation, and aim to promote a friendly and sociable culture around all things kiteboarding.
Kiteboarding Asia (KBA)
Tel: +66 (0) 81 591 4594
Tel: +66 (0) 83 395 2005
Tel: +66 (0) 81 090 3730