While surfing in Phuket is not ranked among the absolute best in the world, it's certainly the best in Thailand and should not be dismissed entirely. The island supports a small but lively surf community and, as the sport has become more established here and prices for board rental and courses drop, the community has continued to get bigger and bigger.

    The surfing season starts as the tourism high season is just ending. With the wind direction switching from east to west around April, the west-coast seas go from perfectly flat to perfect for riding – a situation which lasts until the winds turn back around October. At the same time, the air and water temperatures are both usually good and the lower number of tourists puts fewer obstacles in the water, making Phuket a comfortable and safe place to surf.

    Kalim Beach is certainly one of the best surfing spots in Phuket, but is also not for beginners. Located just north of Patong Beach, the central part of the beach is where to head to with a properly waxed surfboard. Here, surfers can ride the swell on a 100-metre-long spot, with waves reaching up to 3 metres.

    It’s best to go at mid to high tides and cautious landing is advised as the shore is pretty rocky and hides a shallow coral reef. Kalim Beach hosts yearly surfing contests including a few events sponsored by the Quiksilver Thailand Surf Competition.

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    Kamala Beach offers a great surfing spot at its northern part. This beach has 3 main parts: its southern part (from the temple to the village) offers a gentle swell that can be surfed when over 1 metre, making it a good place for beginners. The central part starts with the first guesthouses and ends parallel with Phuket FantaSea and its sandbanks create waves up to 3 metres, making this section a great place for advanced and experienced riders. At the northern end is a small and tricky reef point break, making it the best surfing spot on the beach.

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    Kata Beach is considered the surfing mecca of Phuket Island. The southern end of the beach is where to head to for a great surfing experience. Due to its popularity, the place can be crowded at times but the atmosphere remains friendly. Check out for the surf shops to find equipment for rent or sale and courses available – the best breaks are right in front of them.

    With a maximum height of 2 metres, beginners and advanced riders can have fun here. If you’d like to experiment with surfing in a super-safe environment beforehand, try out the flowrider at Phuket Surf House. Kata Beach hosts yearly international surf contests.

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    Nai Harn Beach offers a beach break at its southern end and a beach and reef break at its northern end. Winds are variable and waves can reach up to 3 metres. Surfable at all tides; Nai Harn is not considered too challenging a place by experienced surfers.

    The 2 ends of the beach allow different surfing experiences: at the north end, right in front of the Royal Phuket Yacht Club, a coral reef and rocky break make for big swells. The southern end of the beach has a permanent sandbank in front of a small lagoon and offers a fast and long ride, even with small swells.

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    Surin Beach is a great surfing spot, though some of the heaviest waves in Phuket make it only recommended for advanced and experienced surfers. The 2 ends of the beach are good for surfing, but you should be aware that there’s a rock formation in the central part of the beach, visible at low tide. 

    The northern end of this rock formation sometimes creates a small sandbank that results in a fast and short wave to ride. The central part of the beach also has a sandbank that creates a nice break at mid-tide. The sandy bottom all along the beach (apart from its extremities) assures a safe landing from waves that can be up to 2 metres.

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    Bangtao Beach is a pretty good place for absolute beginners to learn and develop their surfing skills. The middle of the beach is protected from the swells and some smaller waves are eminently rideable. Further north along the beach, the waves can get up to 3 metres as it's exposed to the wind. Shifting sandbanks make the going unpredictable, but sometimes it's near-perfect here.

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    The good waves at Kata Noi Beach are usually off the northern headland and can be quite fast, but good at times. The right-hander main wave breaks near the northern headland. Winds are southeasterly to northeasterly with waves up to 2 metres.

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    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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