Phuket: 12 things to do in the sea
Phuket’s an island. The sand is stunning, the weather’s gorgeous and, for many a beach potato, that’s enough. But just out there is the sea (that stuff described in the brochures as ‘azure’) and you can do more in it than just paddle up to your ankles. Phuket has stacks to do on and in the water, especially during the high season when the low season winds have gone and the sea is like glass – all the way to the bottom. Get the urge to submerge, pay devotion to the ocean, indulge your wish to be a fish…in other words, whatever floats your boat, Phuket’s got it.
1. Need for speed.
Get out to see the islands on a speedboat. There are lots of companies doing day trips to the islands off Phuket. Head for Koh Kai (Egg Island) to wade among tropical fish that will eat from your hand (great for kids), or go snorkelling at Koh Hei (also known as Coral Island) or Koh Racha Yai.
Alternatively head for Phi Phi and follow the footsteps of Leonardo ‘The Beach’ DiCaprio in Maya Bay, or go to the top of Phang Nga Bay where James Bond battled with bad guys. Note: a lot of other people do these trips, so if you’re seeking a bit of solitude, grab your wallet and head for No. 2 on our list.
2. Need for champagne.
If you have the urge to splurge, get some friends together and rent a fabulous high-speed cruiser from Tawan Cruises or Limestone Adventures. Your own super-attentive hostess, champagne, caviar, strawberries and cream, and a nice big sun deck. Where you go will be up to you, but the guys who run these trips know gorgeous parts that other boats don’t reach, so ask their advice.
For big parties, contact Klaus, who owns Voyager, a sleek, fast, 20 metre motor yacht that will take up to 35 people.
3. Gone with the wind.
Sailing dinghies, mostly Toppers, Lasers, Hobie Cats and the like, can be rented at most of the major beaches (Patong, Bang Tao and Kata especially). These are relatively simple to operate, and winds are usually light between November and April, so you won’t get into too much trouble, even if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Some of the bigger hotels have dinghies for the free use of guests.
4. Gone with the first class wind.
If you don’t relish getting wet and doing all the work, and your wallet can take the punishment, charter the 100-year-old schooner Seraph or the Indian dhow Aumgaia. They’ll wine and dine you, and take you in peace and comfort to some delightful out-of-the-way places. Watching the sunset while sipping cocktails on the deck of your own boat (if it’s only for a day) is the way to go.
5. Learn your lesson.
Never sailed before but got a yen to try? Phuket’s the perfect place to learn – no freezing rain coming sideways, no huge waves, and fabulous scenery all around. YachtPro, at the north end of the island, or Sunsail in the Boat Lagoon marina are the people to contact. If you already know how to pull a few ropes and just want to get out on the water, skippers at the Ao Chalong Yacht Club are often looking for crew, especially on race days. Bring a bag of beers and you’ll be welcomed with open arms.
6. Underwater wonder:
Phuket is surrounded by tropical reefs teeming with brilliantly coloured fish. The best way to see them is to get down there among them. Go diving. There are dozens of dive companies in Phuket. Many of them will teach you how and, so long as you don’t really muck it up, will award you a
PADI, NAUI or CMAS certificate. Choose from a huge range of day trips, close to Phuket or further away, or head off over the horizon for a few days on a live-a-board trip.
7. Siamese fins:
Not yet ready to entrust your life to a gas tank and a load of tubing? Then another great way to see fish and coral is from above, paddling gently along with mask, snorkel and fins. Plenty of companies organise snorkelling packages in the waters around Phuket. Most packages include food, soft drinks and snorkelling gear.
8. Power to the fish:
Better yet, try power snorkelling. The Power Snorkel is a nifty air pump that floats around above you, supplying air through a tube, allowing you to dive to the bottom and stay there as long as you like – your air supply device floats around above you. Call Steve at Power Snorkel, which operates at Coral Island. Steve also has canoes made of clear plastic so that you can float around looking at the wonders just below your backside.
9. Paddling about:
When the sea’s calm and the weather’s sunny, there are few more delightful ways to get about than on a canoe or sea kayak. Again, there are dozens of companies offering canoe trips, especially to the ‘hongs’ in
Phang Nga Bay – caves and secret bays right inside the ancient islands of the bay. One company stands out: John Gray’s Sea Canoe, which also runs magical night-time trips under the stars. John started all of this, and although he has very good imitators, he’s still the best.
line and sinker: Fancy yourself as Ernest Hemmingway? Get a good way offshore and the fishing can be really exciting. Billfish, dorado, marlin, sailfish, trevally, wahoo – they’re all waiting for you. Day trips or half-day trips are available.
11. Surf’s up:
Phuket is not world-renowned as a surfing destination, but quite a few surfers still manage to have themselves a good time on its moderate swells. Boards can be rented. So too can windsurfers and kite surfing equipment, along with lessons. Start with advice, lessons and equipment rental from Phuket Windsurfing, Phuket Kite Surfing or book through the Extreme Sports Café website.
Look at it this way: would your mother let you climb onto a high – powered motorbike and roar off down the road without benefit of license, or any skills or knowledge? So why would you want to climb on a high-powered jet-ski and go roaring off across the water?
ask for Stuart Clarke, Tel: 076-354074, www.coralseekers.com
Tel: 081-7971120 or 081-7470074, www.seraphcruises.com
Tel: 076-239710, www.tawancruises.com
Tel: 087-8865425, www.allasiayachts.com
Coconut Laid Back Co (Aumgaia),
ask for Mark Caine,
Tel: 076-270891 or 089-8733952, www.laidbackcruises.com
Ask for Rob Williams, Tel: 076-348117, www.sailing-thailand.com
Tel: 076-238057, www.sunsailasia.com
ask for Steve Anderson, Tel: 076-383796, www.powersnorkel.com
John Gray’s Sea Canoe,
Tel: 076-254505, www.johngray-seacanoe.com
Tel: 076-212172, www.seacanoe.net
Tel: 076-281510, www.wahoo.ws
Let’s Go Game Fishing,
Tel: 076-383730, www.letsgogamefishing.com
Phuket Island Hopper,
Tel: 076-273328, www.limestoneadventures.com
Phuket Scuba Club,
ask for Kevan or Chantal, Kata, Tel: 076-284026,
Cherng Talay, Tel: 076-270379, www.diveh2osportz.com
Patong, Tel: 076-294225, www.scandinavian-divers.com
See Bees, Chalong,
Tel: 076- 381765, www.sea-bees.com
Sea King Divers, Rawai,
Tel: 076-288971 or 081-8923320, www.seaking-diving.com
Andaman Sea Kayak,
Tel: 076-235353 or 076-235098, www.andamanseakayak.com
Tel: 076-228329, www.phuketwindsurfing.com
Tel: 081-0903730, 089-9701797 or 076-288258,
Extreme Sports Café,