You can spend a lot of time on Phuket and still not do everything. Thanks to years of resort growth, a host of activities are on hand, appealing mostly to those who like a bit of action. The beachfront areas are full of tour operators, each vying for your business and offering similar trips (or copycat tours). We've listed the most reputable firms, but ask lots of questions before signing up for anything, so there are no surprises.
A 10-minute parasailing ride is about 800B at most beaches. You'll also find Hobie Cats for around 600B per hour, as well as windsurf boards for 200B per hour. On Patong, there are no specific offices to organize these activities, just small operators with hand-painted signs usually hanging around under umbrellas -- bargain furiously.
Jet skis are technically illegal, but alas, as you'll hear all along the length of Patong, plenty of people are willing to spend their money on screaming up and down the beach on a gasoline-belching scooter. (Most of the noisier watersports activities are concentrated along Patong Beach.) Accidents are now so common between swimmers or divers and jet skis (some resulting in amputations or death) that areas are now being cordoned off from these (wholly unecological) aquatic toys.
You'll find small sailboats and kayaks for rent along all of the beaches. Kata is a good place to rent a kayak and play in the waves for 200B per hour, but ask about the strong riptides along this dangerous coast.
The hottest new beach activity is kiteboarding or kitesurfing, and a few companies, such as Kiteboarding Asia (tel. 08159-14592; www.kiteboardingasia.com), offer 3-day introductory courses for around 10,000B. The best beaches for kiteboarding on Phuket are Rawai and Chalong in the south, and the best months for wind are January/February and July/August.
Day Cruising & Yachting
The turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea near Phuket are every city dweller's dream. Every December, Phuket hosts the increasingly popular King's Cup Regatta, in which almost 100 international racing yachts compete. For more information, check out www.kingscup.com.
For a different view of gorgeous Phang Nga Bay, book a trip aboard one of Asian Oasis's three luxury Chinese junks, the June Bahtra 1, 2, and 3. Full-day trips include lunch and hotel transfers. Passage on an all-day cruise in stunning Phang Nga Bay, to the likes of the (now totally ruined) "James Bond" Island, starts from 3,700B per person, depending on the number in a group (alcoholic beverages are not included). Book through their website, www.asian-oasis.com.
There are more and more options for chartering yachts in Phuket. Contact Asia Marine for details (c/o Phuket Boat Lagoon, 20/8 Thepkasattri Rd., Tambon Kohkaew, Phuket 83200; tel. 07623-9111; www.asia-marine.net) or Sunsail Asia Pacific (Phuket Boat Lagoon, 20/5 Moo 2, Thepkasattri Rd., Phuket 83200; tel. 07623-9057; www.sunsailthailand.com).
Many of the high-end resorts, such as the Amanpuri (tel. 07632-4333; www.amanresorts.com), have their own fleets of pleasure boats for in-house guests, or can make arrangements.
Blue Water Anglers are deep-sea fishing experts with well-equipped boats. They'll take you out for marlin, sailfish, swordfish, and tuna, and also have special night-fishing programs; but be warned that if you're new to the sport, it isn't cheap -- the trip will set you back thousands of baht. Stop by at 35/7 Sakdidet Rd., Phuket Town; or call tel. 07639-1287. Or look up www.bluewater-anglers.com.
A romantic and charming way to see Phuket's jungles and beaches is on horseback. The Phuket Laguna Riding Club, 394 Moo 1, Bangtao Beach (tel. 07632-4199), welcomes riders of all ages and experience levels, and can provide instruction for beginners and children. Prices start at 600B per hour.
In the smaller bays around the island, such as Nai Harn Beach or Relax Bay, you'll come across some lovely snorkeling right along the shore. For the best coral just off the shoreline, trek up to Nai Yang Beach for its long reef in clear, shallow waters. Nearby Raya Island is popular, and many venture farther to the Similan Islands or Ko Phi Phi. The best times to snorkel are from November to April before the monsoon comes and makes the sea too choppy. Almost every tour operator and hotel can book day trips by boat that include hotel transfers, lunch, and gear for about 1,500B per person.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.