Phuket and Khao Lak surf spots offer visitors uncrowded, friendly waves and warm azure waters
Updated on 22 August 2018: The Phuket Surf Series 2018+Khaolak is already four events into the current season, which was scheduled up to one year in advance. Prior to the launch of Phuket Surf Series 2018+Khaolak, Phuket annually hosted competitions sponsored by international surf and lifestyle brands including the locally organised Kamala Go Surfing contest is now in its 14th year.
The first competition of the Phuket Surf Series 2018+Khaolak series was held at Patong Beach on 30 June to 1 July.
The second competition, Kamala Go Surfing 14th Contest 2018, was held on 7 to 8 July on Kamala Beach.
The third competition, 2018 RAST REnextop Asian Surfing Tour #2 was held at Patong Beach on 18 to 21 July.
The fourth competition, Kalim Reef Surfer Surfing 2nd Contest 2018, was held on 3 to 5 August at Kalim Beach, Phuket:
Two additional events, scheduled since early April, will complete the series. The 2nd Surin Beach Surfing Contest 2018 will be held on 22-23 September at Surin Beach in Phuket followed by the 4th Khao Lak Surfing Contest 2018 will be held on 26-28 October, at Pakarang Beach, Khao Lak in Phang Nga.
Phuket is home to the occasional point break with reefs, but it’s mainly made up of beach breaks that offer fairly uncrowded, mellow waves, and the warm azure tropical waters of the Andaman Sea. Most of Phuket’s West coast beaches are surfed during the monsoon season. The best spots that can handle a storm swell and produce clean surf include Kata Beach, Kalim Beach, Kamala Beach, Surin Beach and Nai Han Beach.
Anyone can have a blast surfing here!
Surfing in Phuket might not seem as impressive as in Bali, Tahiti’s Teahupoo, or the Mentawais, but there are many good waves to be had. There is also the reality of flat lake-like conditions outside the short swell season during which the mushy, onshore conditions are inconsistent, windblown and rainy. At least, there are fewer tourists for surfers to share the beaches with.
The safest bet for the aspiring wave rider is southwest facing Kata Beach. It is considered by many as Phuket’s most popular spot because the waves are punchy, fast and often bigger, especially at the south and near the Kata Beach Resort. Which means when the surf is good, Kata is comparatively crowded by Phuket standards. Having said that, there is no shortage of take-off points along the 1.5-kilometre-long beach depending on sandbar positions, so there are usually enough good waves to go around. There is also an annual Quicksilver contest. But best to avoid after heavy rains, as it gets polluted.
It is one of the relatively few places to rent boards or to receive surfing lessons in Phuket. Board rentals are abundant, but rates are seasonal. There is also the Phuket Surf House across from Kata Beach. Flowboarding can be a good tune up for veteran surfers, and a challenging training ground for ‘groms’.
Nearby Nai Han Beach handles a six-foot swell that can deliver up to eight-foot sets. It features a sharp peak breaking over shifting sandbars after storms, especially when the river mouth is clear to the Nai Han Lake. This delivers steep drops and short, fast lefts with barrels galore for goofy footers. Right sends surfers towards the rocks on the south end of Nai Han, and it is not advisable for beginners. At the north end are beach peaks and a right reef break in the corner, in front of a huge cliff hugging resort.
Also, a word to the wise: big waves at Nai Han means strong rip tides. So, tourists are advised to stay near local Thai and foreign resident surfers at Nai Han to correctly position themselves properly in the line-up.
In Northern Phuket, Kamala Beach’s sandbanks are stabilised by the reefs and attract less crowds than Kata. Waves break quite far outside and slow with bigger swells while inside there is a small surfable, but inconsistent point/reef break. Nearby Kalim offers a respite if the surf is too big elsewhere. Kalim is considered by many as one of the better breaks on Phuket, where a right-hand reef break unfolds over shallow coral offering a 50 to 100-metre-long ride that gets very shallow at the end, especially at low tide. Even when it sometimes gets crowded, it usually remains very friendly in the line-up.
In Phang Nga, Khao Lak’s Pakarang Cape is one of the few mainland destinations in Thailand to have good surf after New Year, often well into January and February.
This year Thailand’s fast growing local surfing communities will gather for six events in one series with the exciting launch of the Phuket Surf Series 2018+ Khao Lak. Five events are already being held in Phuket with the six in series scheduled later this year in Khao Lak, Phang Nga province from now until the end of October 2018. This will further reinforce the tourism image of Phuket province as a sports destination and generate surf-related tourism revenue for the country.
Surfing in Phuket and Khao Lak are not only about the waves; it is a lifestyle and culture all to itself. Surfers worldwide identify and meet to celebrate the sport and the friendship it brings at a grassroots level. This is very true of a growing surge in surf culture in Phuket, with more Thais in the water than ever before, with locals learning to love and appreciate the ocean lifestyle and all that Thailand’s beautiful sun kissed shores have to offer.