A Complete Guide to Surfing in Phuket

Although widely known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife and mouthwatering cuisine, Phuket also promises a range of exhilarating surfing experiences for beginners and experts. With its crystal-clear waters, consistent swells, breathtaking scenery and numerous beach and reef breaks, heading to Phuket for a surfing adventure is always a good idea.

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The Underdog of World Surfing Destinations

Despite the occasional absence from top surfing destination articles, Phuket holds its own distinctive appeal, attracting surfers who seek an adventure off the beaten path. Unlike more popular surf breaks, Phuket's charm lies in its uncrowded sets and varied swells that allow boardriders to indulge in the pure joy of surfing without the hustle and bustle of congested lineups.

However, it isn't just the rhythmic pulse of the waves that keep surfers and holidaymakers returning for more. Phuket's range of affordable accommodation options and vibrant local culture also play a significant role in its appeal. With all this and more at your doorstep, Phuket offers a unique experience for those willing enough to explore.

Top Phuket Surfing Spots

From short reef breaks that pack a punch to more gentle beach sets ideal for beginners, Phuket is a dynamic playground for surfers of all skill levels. With consistent swells and lengthy barrel sections that challenge even the most experienced surfer, it's safe to say that Phuket Island is home to some of the best surf spots in the whole of Thailand. From the north of Phuket Island to the south, the top surf breaks in Phuket include:

1. Bang Tao Beach

Stretching over eight kilometres long, Bang Tao Beach is the second largest in Phuket and offers an expansive playground for beginner surfers. Its gentle rolling waves and sandy bottom make it an ideal spot for those looking to catch their first wave. It's also worth noting that the swell is consistent and forgiving, providing ample opportunities for practice and improvement.

Shifting sandbanks sometimes result in unpredictable conditions at Bang Tao. However, on most days, you'll enjoy near-perfect conditions with southerly winds helping waves reach up to three metres high. The southern end of the beach is also home to several surf schools and rental shops, making it convenient for visitors to try their hand at the sport.

Location: Northwest coast of Phuket Island
Skill Level: Beginner
Best Swell Direction: W, WS
Nearby Accommodation:


2. Surin Beach

Just a stone's throw south of Bang Tao Beach, Surin Beach is known for its short reef breaks and consistently powerful waves. More advanced surfers frequent this area, seeking the thrill of riding challenging waves that look onto the idyllic palm-fringed shores of the island. The reef breaks here create powerful, hollow waves and thrilling barrels that demand respect and skill from riders, making it a favourite among more experienced surfers.

The prime surfing locations at Surin lay next to the north and south headlands, with surfers flocking to these areas on the lookout for the perfect wave. However, it is worth being aware of the rock formation towards the centre of the 800m stretch of beach. Here, surfers are reminded to exercise caution particularly at low tide, however don't be deterred because some of the best rides in Thailand lie right on these sandy shores.

Location: West coast of Phuket Island, between Bang Tao Beach and Kamala Beach
Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced
Best Swell Direction: SW
Nearby Accommodation:

3. Kamala Beach

Tucked away on Phuket's western coast, Kamala Beach is an exposed beach break offering up an impressive range of left and right-handers for beginners and experts. At the northern end, more confident surfers and longboarders are greeted by stunning right-handers just off the point of the headland. Here, riders enjoy four to eight-footer-high waves and slick long barrels that last up to 100 metres in length and bring them right into shore.

On lighter days, beginners can enjoy cruisey, forgiving waves on the northern end, providing them with the ideal conditions to practice and improve. Heading towards the southern end of the beach next to the headland, however, experienced surfers are greeted by a slick left-hander. Surfers seeking more challenging conditions and advanced waves are drawn to this spot, as the waves here can be powerful and fast-moving due to the exposed location.

Location: West coast of Phuket island, approximately 11 kilometres north of Pa Tong
Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced
Best Swell Direction: W
Nearby Accommodation:

4. Kalim Beach

Kalim Beach is small but mighty, offering up a thrilling right-handed reef break set upon rocky coral shores. Advanced surfers flock here to test their skills and experience the adrenaline rush of riding 50-100 metre-long waves. Kalim's coral bottom and powerful swells create slick hollow barrels, offering an exhilarating ride for those brave enough to tackle them. With some waves reaching over nine feet high, Kalim's shallow reef break is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

It is worth noting that ideal surfing conditions at Kalim are often experienced when tides reach mid to high levels. As the water covers the rocks and coral below, it smooths out the wave breaks, providing a more consistent and rideable surface.

Location: Less than three kilometres north of Patong
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Best Swell Direction: SW
Nearby Accommodation:


5. Kata (Yai) Beach

Kata (Yai) Beach is widely considered the surfing mecca of Phuket due to its consistent swell that sees riders of all skill levels greeted with ideal surfing conditions at any tide. Kata Beach was even the host of a Quicksilver pro-event in 1999, so it's no surprise that Kata is where surf culture in Phuket first began.

You'll find most of the action at Kata towards the southern end, where the waves are fast but easy enough to get on. However, as an exposed beach break, you'll have to be wary of the shifting sandbanks that transform incoming swells into waves that are larger and steeper. Kata is also one of the only places with board rentals and surf schools in Phuket, making it convenient for beginners looking to learn and more seasoned pros in need of equipment.

Location: Southwest of Phuket Island, approx. ten kilometres south of Pa Tong
Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced
Best Swell Direction: SW
Nearby Accommodation:

6. Kata Noi Beach

The sister beach to Kata Yai, Kata Noi Beach, is located just south of its counterpart and is separated only by a small headland. Primarily suitable for more advanced surfers, the main waves that keep visitors and locals returning are right-handers that break on a deep reef towards the northern headland. These waves are hollow and powerful and tend to be faster and steeper than those on Kata Beach, offering an exhilarating experience for more experienced surfers.

There are also a few nice small beach breaks closer to the middle of the beach, offering less seasoned surfers a chance to practice and enjoy some manageable waves. Complete beginners are, however, encouraged to hop on over to Kata and take advantage of the surf schools on the neighbouring beach.

Location: South of Kata (Yai) Beach
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Best Swell Direction: W
Nearby Accommodation:

7. Nai Harn Beach

Due to its southerly location, Nai Harn Beach experiences a decent amount of swell that contributes to pretty consistent surfing conditions. At the northern end of Nai Harn, you'll find decent beach and reef breaks with a couple of crumbly right-handers at your disposal.

However, the southern end is where it's at. Here, in front of the lagoon, you'll find an impressive beach break that is a particular favourite with small groups of local surfers. The waves served up here are long and hollow, with impressive barrel sections offering up the most satisfying rides for those lucky enough to catch them.

Location: Southwest coast of Phuket Island, approx six kilometres southwest of Rawai
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Best Swell Direction: W
Nearby Accommodation:

When to Surf in Phuket

Phuket's surfing conditions vary throughout the year, offering boardriders of varying skill and experience levels a different experience depending on the season.

May to October: The best time to catch some waves in Phuket is during the southwest monsoon season. During this time, the island's western-facing beaches are exposed to consistent swells, creating ideal surfing conditions along the west coast. Here, well-seasoned pros take advantage of the monsoon swells that create powerful barrel sections along the coast.

November to April: The northeast monsoon season, from November to April, otherwise known as the dry season, brings calmer seas with only a couple of surfable days a month. During this time, the waves are generally smaller and more manageable, making it more suitable for beginners and those looking for milder waves.


Key Things To Remember Before You Pack Your Bags

If you're in Phuket during surfing season, you're going to want to consider the following key points.

What To Bring

At TravelOnline, we're all about making things easier for you, so we've come up with a list of the essentials you shouldn't forget if you're planning on heading to Phuket for a surfing holiday.

  • Surfboards
  • Spare leg ropes
  • Wetsuit
  • Rash shirt
  • Reef-friendly sunscreen
  • Reef shoes (not mandatory, but recommended)
  • Spare leg ropes
  • Spare fin sets and fin keys
  • Surf wax
  • First aid kit

Consider Booking

Planning for a regular holiday, let alone a surf trip, requires a bit of foresight to ensure you have everything you need booked and ready to go. We recommend booking the following if you're heading to Phuket on a surfing trip:

  • Surf School: For those new to surfing, Phuket offers various surf schools that provide lessons for beginners. Surf schools are a fantastic way to get started and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in the water.
  • Equipment Hire: Many surf shops, among some of the most popular surfing spots in Phuket, such as Kata and Bang Tao Beach, offer board and equipment rentals at reasonable rates for travellers who want to avoid bringing their own gear.
  • Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is always important to consider as it protects you from unforeseen events and provides you with enhanced peace of mind.

Surf Safety & Etiquette

Before hitting the waves, we recommend familiarising yourself with surf safety guidelines and etiquette to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for you and those you're sharing the water with. It is worth considering the following:

  • Respect locals: Always respect local surfers and adhere to the right-of-way rules to avoid collisions.
  • Adhere to warning signs: Pay attention to any warning flags or safety announcements from lifeguards, especially during the monsoon season when conditions change rapidly.
  • Know your limits: Be honest about your surfing abilities and only tackle waves that match your skill level to reduce the risk of accidents or injuries.
  • Check the conditions: If you're planning on going surfing in Phuket, having a look at the surf report for that specific day can help you judge the conditions and plan your session accordingly.

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