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Windsurfing in Phuket
Consistent winds, readily available equipment and the beautiful environment make Phuket an enjoyable place for windsurfing. Although the winds are not strong enough often enough to make Phuket a ‘name’ windsurfing destination, the island still atracts a reasonable number of windsurfers in the high season. Generally, it’s a case of being ready to take advantage when the breezes blow.
Windsurfing in Phuket is definitely for early birds, so don’t party too late if you want to catch the best winds. The northeast monsoon which generally blows from November to March produces consistent winds of up to 18-25 knots in the mornings. For a full morning’s sail, you should be out as early as 7 or 8am. During the northeast monsoon, the seas are flat and the winds blow across the island from east to west. The best places to pick tip the winds are on the west coast, such as Kata Beach which offers steady, flat-water sailing. Here, the winds funnel down through the hills, creating a venturi effect, but a problem is that the winds are offshore and you may have to head quite far out from shore before you pick any significant breezes. During high season, it’s easy to rent basic equipment on the most popular beaches, including Patong, Karon and Kata.
Kata is one of the best places in Phuket for novices to learn, and to rent high-end boards. Beginners should head for the windsurf stand near Kata Beach Resort, which is operated by Manoch. Here you can rent a board, and if you hire for long enough, you may get a lesson for free the nicer you are, the better the deal! The lessons are fun, and the top-grade equipment is extremely well maintained. There’s even a simulator on the beach this year. Another good place to learn are the lagoons at the Laguna Phuket Resort, where the Sheraton Grande and Laguna Beach Club offer visitors use of their facilities, a free lesson and equipment hire. This is a safe, protected environment, where you don’t risk the chance of getting swept out to sea when there’s fierce winds. For intermediate or advanced riders, Rawai at the south tip of the island is one of the best spots to head when the northeast monsoon blows hard. But be warned: Rawai is very tidal, and because of the large reef there, many riders have lost fins making their way back in.
During the southwest monsoon, storms can generate strong gales but these are few and far between and only experienced sailors can take advantage of the conditions. When it does go off, both Rawai and Nai Harn beaches are good for wave-sailing due to big swells rolling across the South of the island. Locals reckon that during the low season, there are half a dozen occasions when with a storm approaching you can blast your way up Phuket’s entire west coast and beyond. The only problem is you’ve got to make your own way back down.