So it might be safe to say that the majority of us know what surfing is, right? But then you hear the word kitesurfing, and you’re like, “ok, well, that sounds interesting!”
What is Kitesurfing
Kitesurfing is a wind-powered surface water sport. You use a board and a kite to move across the water. Where regular surfing relies on the waves, kitesurfing relies on the power of the wind. Attached to you is a parachute-type kite that propels you forward across the water. As opposed to surfing (where you rely on the waves), a flat water surface is actually favored to perform this art of the sport.
Is Phuket a good location for kitesurfing
“Where shall I go kitesurfing?” Well, let’s start at a much-loved destination that has attracted both beginners to professional kitesurfers – Phuket, Thailand. Beyond the overrated Patong nightlife, backpacker haunts and stretches of luxury beach resorts… let’s explore the kitesurfing possibilities this destination offers.
The island of Phuket is an ideal destination for kitesurfing simply because it has the most extended windy period in Thailand, and strong winds allow for smooth and exciting rides.
Kitesurfing Spots in Phuket
There is a little something for everyone. If you are just starting, then you may prefer to steer clear from gale-force winds, and on the Southeast Coast, you will find a light breeze touching your face, perfect to stay motivated. Rawai beach has calm shallow waters that are by no means intimidating, and with warm temperatures throughout the day, this is the perfect place to get going. Just a small tip: Remember to bring a pair of booties as it will keep your feet safe if you walk on small rocks in the shallow waters.
If you are a thrill-seeker, then you would likely opt for the North Coast. Layan Beach and Nai Yang beach offer the perfect combination of wind and water for the thrill-seeker who loves a challenge. Nai Yang is located very near the Phuket international airport which makes it very accessible for people who just want to swing over to Phuket for the long weekend just for a kitesurfing fix.
Safety and Conducive Weather
Phuket offers many sandy safe spots to kitesurf and boasts long beaches and relatively stable wind conditions. You can safely go on your kitesurfing holiday knowing that you are almost certain to have close-to-perfect weather conditions. And should the weather decide to take the day off, the views are simply spectacular, on and off the surfboard.
Kitesurfing seasons in Phuket
Ok, so when should I go then?
The best months for kitesurfing depend on exactly where you plan to go, although generally speaking, June-August and December-March are your best months.
These months offer clear skies, calm seas, little rainfall (which can appear out of nowhere in a tropical environment), and the wind speed measuring 12-18 knots on average, creating the perfect kitesurfing conditions. For travelers who have limited time in Phuket, this also helps you make the most of your trip as your kitesurfing classes or experience is not hindered by the ever-changing weather during the monsoon season ( though mind you, there are still very good kitesurfing days even in monsoon season)
Where to learn kitesurfing in Phuket
If you have the gear and have booked your oversized luggage at the airport, you may already know what you’re doing. What about the rest of us who are mesmerized by the sight of these tan and pro-looking kitesurfers and surfers we see at the airport but have no clue where or how to start?
Kitesurfing Schools and Classes
To learn to kitesurf, there are a few kitesurfing and wind foiling schools in Phuket that will train anyone who is dedicated to learning.
For us, we attempted kitesurfing lessons with KBA Phuket and boy did we have fun. At first, we weren’t so sure what type of lessons we were going to have, as we had already had a first intro experience to kitesurfing in Brazil. But the staff and instructors at KBA were very knowledgeable and we soon learned what refreshers we need and the next set of lessons we need to get into for Cez and me respectively.
Kitesurfing Lessons 101
Cez was definitely more experienced than me with great kite control, and with some practice in launching and rescue, he was on the board and learning how to control the kite while riding. I, on the other hand, had to start with refreshers on setting up the kite, kite control, body dragging and on the final day a few attempts to launch from the board. I am immensely pleased with the progress, though I would definitely love for more days to practice in different types of wind and water conditions.
PRO TIP: Remember to slab on plenty of waterproof and high SPF sunblock, wear your life jacket at all times and stay very hydrated. Sunglasses and caps/ vicars are very useful but are to be worn at your own risk. It helped protect me from getting too burned on my face and the shades from having the saltwater splash straight into my eyes. But, you will stand a chance to lose them if you are not careful and not have them firmly attached.
At the end of the 2 and a half or 3-day course, with insane amounts of falling over, drinking salt water and aching arms, we got the best of the course and were very pleased with our progress. We could officially say that we are kitesurfers and can ride the wind ( to a certain degree). Also, we obtained our IKO certificates.
The IKO certification certifies your kitesurfing skill level, and it is a means of verification as you continue to train and develop your skills regardless of which part of the world you are in. This Kitesurfing Certification is proof of your current ability and training and will allow you to rent equipment and kitesurf by yourself almost anywhere in the world that offers kitesurfing, like Poland, Norway and more ( hint, the places we want to try it next!)
Other Water Sports to Attempt in Phuket
While kitesurfing remains extremely popular, what if you are not a total adrenaline junkie or you want to explore something different. What other options do you have?
Also known as wing surfing, it is also a wind-propelled water surface sport but with a different twist. The wing is handheld and not attached to the board like with kitesurfing. The wings are made from a very light kite fabric that stretches with the aid of inflatable air tubes. So, in essence, this wing is a separate entity.
But as mentioned, it is relatively light, so you won’t need to prepare in the gym six weeks in advance just to keep it upright. If the wind favors you and your balance is good, this can be a pleasant alternative to kitesurfing. Wing Foiling is possible even in weaker wind conditions or when the wind direction is not suitable for kitesurfing, so this can certainly be a pleasant alternative to kitesurfing. KBA Phuket offers wing foil lessons and gear rental for beginners all the way to intermediate.
Also known as cable skiing, this indeed is an exciting water sport. Regular wakeboarding can be costly as you generally require a boat to pull you across the water that needs to be towed and merged into the water, also requiring a driver. While this sport will remain, cable wakeboarding removes the motor boat from the equation.
The cable system does exactly the same, except the tow rope is connected to a spinning overhead cable rather than a boat. With this system, you can, in fact, water ski, shoe ski, wakeboard, wakeskate or even kneeboard, depending on what you find the most comfortable. This is definitely something worth exploring if you need a rest from kitesurfing…even just for a day.
Phuket and the surrounding beaches have so much to offer, but for the kite surfers who love the humid tropical weather, Thai food, and amazing beaches, this is pure paradise. We realized that it is most definitely a destination worth revisiting again next year.