- article by Sash Milne
Sailing in Phuket
Phuket is the sparkling jewel in the crown of Thailand’s spectacular beach destinations and its crystal blue waters make the island a world leader for marine based holidays.
Phuket is a surprisingly large island and offers a choice of busy beaches, marinas and silent, seemingly undiscovered bays, not to mention uninhabited offshore islands offering a tropical oasis for visitors to enjoy on a sailing trip. Thousands of people travel to Phuket every year, and although the island is full of great attractions, shopping and dining experiences, it can get a bit busy for travellers who really like to experience the quiet and charm of the island, without the hustle and bustle of commerce and partying.
One of the best ways to explore this beautiful part of the world is by boat. For professionals and amateurs alike, there is nowhere better to sail off from a marina than Phuket. The island is situated at the hub of the spectacular Andaman sea, part of the world that is home to some of the most unique coastal landscapes, marine life and hidden islands on the planet.
Ocean Sights and Services
With salt on your lips and the sea breeze in your hair, sailors around Phuket can enjoy gaping river mouths, waterfalls, island enclaves, beaches, bays and amazing underwater creatures in their natural habitat. Phuket has become the major sailing ground in South East Asia and offers some pretty special sailing and boating all year around.
You do have to pick your time, however, depending on your skill levels. If you limit your voyage to Phang Nga Bay on the east coast, you can sail around the protected bay even during monsoon season (April-November). However, if you are a less experienced sailor, it’s probably best to avoid the other parts of the Andaman Sea during this time as strong winds and rough waters can be potentially dangerous. That said, for professional sailors looking for a challenge, it can be a spectacular time to be out on the ocean, as well as a great test of your skills.
If you want to learn to sail on Phuket, there are several reputable sailing companies that offer extensive courses which will teach you the basics in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. You can choose from day trips to longer stays on a live aboard boat, where you can truly experience the art of sailing day and night. Many of these courses allow you to bring a friend at a non-student price, so for those who want to learn while their friend or spouse just relaxes on board, it’s the best of both worlds.
For a relaxed sailing cruise, yacht charters leave from Phuket (from budget to luxury level) on world class yachts with professional crews. Qualified skippers can also bareboat charter, hiring their own boat for family and friends. Alternatively, fully staffed options include a professional sailing crew, plus a skilled cook, which for many is a luxury not to be missed. The food on charters out of Phuket is generally incredible, local cooks serve up amazing Thai and European dishes three times a day for your gastronomic delight. Some ultra fancy charters even include super luxury extras like on board swimming pools, a bar and lounge area, even deck jacuzzis, an almost royal sailing experience. You can either charter a boat with just a group of friends and family or book on a mixed charter to make new friends and share travel stories while you enjoy the peace and quiet of the open sea.
The sheer choice of sights on offer in the Andaman Sea means it is definitely worth getting out on a boat. These remote and largely unexplored locations will give you an access to a side of Thailand that most tourists don’t see. Around Phuket, stunning natural attractions include rainbow coloured reef systems that lay just below the surface. Some sailing tours include scuba diving right from your chartered yacht, allowing time to explore the life under the water as well above it.
Spirit of competition
As the sailing capital of of Asia, Phuket hosts several major regattas every year. Phuket Race Week is a challenging event recommended for professional crews only. Held during wet season, this race is always lively and often crews have to deal with rough seas and howling winds. Later in December, the most famous regatta on Phuket is the King’s Cup Regatta which celebrates the Thai King's birthday. An incredible week out on the water, the regatta is open to yachts and crews internationally and whether you want to compete or just watch the action, the colours, life and celebrations attached to the Kings Cup Regatta are a memorable experience for anyone who is passionate about the sport. For Chinese New Year (around the end of January), the Phang Nga Bay Regatta, is another favourite with both locals and international sailors. The fun, fresh and lively event offers playful days out on the water and parties on the beach.
Whether island hopping, scuba diving, relaxing or looking for pro sailing adventures. You can find it all and more when sailing from the marinas on Phuket. Why spend all your time on land when you can see so much more from the sea?
A visit to one of the Phuket's marinas for a quayside coffee is a little like attending a world class boat show.
- Phuket Boat Lagoon (www.phuketboatlagoon.com): The oldest marina on Phuket also boasts one of the most scrumptious deli offerings on the island, Watermark.
- Royal Phuket Marina (www.royalphuketmarina.com): Located adjacent to Phuket Boat Lagoon, Royal Phuket Marina is the epitome of a luxury boating lifestyle.
- Ao Po Grand Marina (www.aopograndmarina.com): As one of two marinas that cater specifically to superyachts, Ao Po's Quarterdeck Restaurant offers a level playing field for yachties and visitors alike.
- Yacht Haven (www.yacht-haven-phuket.com): The working marina is perhaps the most laid back, with The Living Room coffee shop a fun meeting point for skippers, crew, marina management, and visiting guests.
- A Taste for Tapas
Distinctive Spanish flavours offer something special on a trip to the real Spain
- Active Lombok
There's plenty more than sand and swaying palms to keep energetic visitors occupied on Bali and Lombok
- 3 ski resorts in the Swiss Alps
Come winter or summer, Europe's most sophisticated slopes are the place to be "scene".
- Top 5 to-dos in Mexico's Riviera Maya
The range of attractions makes planning a harmonious holiday easy.
- Natural Wonders on Hawai
Nature goes well beyond typical in the 50th state.
- 5 Croatian islands
Only around 5 percent Croatia's islands are inhabited, making for a whole lot to explore.
- Hot and Wet
Discovering Costa Rica during the rainy season and discovering hot springs at La Fortuna
- Surfs Up on Bali
Year round breaks and professional guides to catch the perfect wave.