Phuket is one of Thailand’s most important tourist destinations and is widely known for its abundant sandy beaches, beautiful islands and scenery, and it’s raucous nightlife and entertainment; all of which are factors encouraging thousands of people each year to visit the island. Many holidaymakers in Phuket participate in the various water-based activities and sports available especially diving, snorkelling, kiteboarding and sailing, which have come to epitomise the diverse choice of water sports on the island. It certainly helps that Phuket is blessed with almost year round good weather, clear and warm waters, a decent tourist infrastructure and many other things to do; Phuket is arguably one of the finest Asian holiday destinations when you consider all these factors together and its mixture of sun, beaches, sports and entertainment.
Windsurfing in Thailand is mainly concentrated in the main tourist areas such as Pattaya, Samui and of course Phuket, where it is steadily growing in popularity. The whole region benefits from fairly good and steady winds throughout much of the year during the two monsoon seasons, and there are some places around the island which offer ideal conditions to try out this exciting sport. On many of the main beaches you won’t have to go far to find equipment to rent, or a school that can organise one-on-one or group lessons.
Despite being perhaps slightly eclipsed in popularity by other water sports such as surfing, windsurfing is nevertheless a great and safe way to enjoy the water, and combines the best elements and techniques of surfing and sailing into quite a unique sport.
The Local Conditions
In Phuket there are ample opportunities to get into the water and surf all year round. The best time is generally between November and April when the northeast monsoon brings fresh winds from the east and clear blue skies with long periods of good weather and stable conditions. Winds during this time are consistently between 10 and 15 knots. The more turbulent southwest monsoon blows between May and October, bringing mainly western winds that can generate very large and possibly even dangerous waves, with conditions much less suitable for beginners. August and September tend to be the windiest months in Phuket and experienced windsurfers will be in for a thrill.
Another factor that makes windsurfing enjoyable in Phuket is that the sea is always warm with water temperatures averaging between 27 and 30 degrees. This means that it’s never really necessary to wear a wet suit, but some light cover such as Lycra is advisable to avoid sunburn and any minor cuts and abrasions.
Most windsurfing in Phuket is based around the main beaches on the island’s west coast, such as Karon and Bangtao.
Learning to Windsurf
Despite what many people think, windsurfing is not quite as hard to learn as you might expect. Compared to some other water sports it’s true that there is a steeper learning curve, but after a few attempts most people seem to get the knack. You might find it challenging at first just learning to stand up on the board! When learning windsurfing, it requires you to think about a few things and techniques simultaneously, but it’s very rewarding when you progress from an amateur to intermediate level and can plane along at decent speeds, and maybe even pull off a few advanced moves and tricks. Beginners will of course spend quite a long time off the board in the water, which can be quite frustrating at first but persistence is definitely key to get the hang of it.
It doesn’t hurt to enrol in a few lessons, especially if you are a complete beginner with no previous experience, since it’s not really possible to learn just by having a go independently. It definitely helps to learn a few of the basic techniques of sailing and take a few lessons with an accomplished windsurfer, after which you’ll soon be clamouring to get out on the water and have a go alone. You should be aware that there are many hazards in the busier stretches of water around Phuket, namely swimmers, other windsurfers, regular surfers, snorkelers, jet skis, and motorboats. Thailand does not always consider safety as highly as western countries, so it pays to be extremely cautious and stick to the safe areas advised by your guide.
Windsurfing Courses and Rental
There are a few windsurfing courses and schools in Phuket where you can arrange lessons, as well as rent or buy the necessary equipment. Some of the large hotels also have boards to rent out but they always try to make sure that you are relatively skilled, and can be reluctant to let you hire them when the sea conditions are bad. There are also places on many of the popular beaches such as Patong Beach and Kata Beach where you can rent a board and sail. These days, even children can learn to windsurf using modern stable boards that are quite easy to learn on. The windsurf shops have all types of gear to suit most styles, conditions and experience.
The typical prices for a day of windsurfing tuition are around 4000 baht, which aims to give beginners a complete rundown on the theory and skills, as well as some time on the water putting it all into practice. Note however that a one day course usually means 3 or 4 hours and not an entire day. To rent the equipment alone without a lesson costs around 500 baht an hour, or over several thousand baht for a full day.
The following company in Phuket can give lessons and provide all the necessary kit, but it’s also easy to find local resources on the beaches and at the main hotels.
Tel: +66 (0) 87 8888 244