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.
Beachfront WatersportsJet skis are technically illegal, but alas, you’ll hear them all along the length of Patong. (Most of the noisier watersports activities are concentrated along Patong Beach.) Accidents are so common (some resulting in amputations or death when a swimmer or diver comes into contact with a jetskier) that areas are now being cordoned off from these aquatic toys.
You’ll find small sailboats and kayaks for rent along many of the island’s 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 before paddling away from shore.
The trendiest beach activity is kiteboarding or kitesurfing, and a few companies, such as Kiteboarding Asia (www.kiteboardingasia.com; tel. 08159-14594), offer 3-day introductory courses for around 11,000B. The best beaches for kiteboarding on Phuket are Rawai and Chalong in the south and Nai Yang in the north, though which beach is best depends on the time of year—check with a local school for current conditions. While you can kitesurf any month, peak season is May to October.
While it can’t compare to other Asian surfing destinations, like Bali and Sydney, Phuket has a growing surf scene. Go with the pros at Phuket Surfing (www.phuketsurfing.com; tel. 089874-9147) where an hour-long private lesson on Kata Beach is 1,200B, while two days of rental and four hours of lessons runs 3,800B. There are longer lessons and rentals of surfboards and stand up paddleboards.
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.All the tour stands around town can assist with booking multi-island group speedboat trips. They’re all pretty cookie cutter the only difference usually being the size of the boat; smaller boats with fewer people make for a more enjoyable experience. Many diver operators and speedboat tour companies have offices at luxury hotels and give discounted rates for guests. If you’d like something private, Phuket is chockfull of yachts and boats available for private rental. Check out Sweet Dreamers (www.sailingtourphuket.com; tel. 087277-7395) for a well-maintained fleet of yachts and catamarans from 28,000B a day, include things like meals, drinks, and a Thai crew. They also offer small group (3,500B a day) and private (37,000B a day) speedboat tours. Andaman Cruises (www.andaman-cruises.com; tel. 07631-6562) has some of the best yachts in Thailand. If spending several days at sea sounds like an ideal vacation, the pros at Sunsail (www.sunsail.com; tel. 07633-6212) rent yachts for several days at a time for very completive rates. Finally, the website GetMyBoat.com is a bustling marketplace for both private and public boat tours and charters (both bare-boat and crewed). Because there are so many entities on it, the competition often causes prices to drop below what we have above.
Phuket Fishing Charters (www.phuketfishingcharters.com) are deep-sea fishing experts with well-equipped boats. They'll take you out for marlin, sailfish, swordfish, and tuna. Read tour descriptions carefully because some trips are for casual visitors looking for a day on a boat with stops for snorkeling and casting reel (around 2,100B) while others are for serious fisherman (3,900B to 69,000B for private yacht)..
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. The biggest thing to ask each provider is the route of the boat and how many people will join. Avoid boats with 40 or more people, if possible. The trip is more enjoyable with fewer people. If you’re traveling with a bubble blower and you’d prefer to stay at the surface, most of the diving outfits listed above offer add-on snorkel packages.
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.