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Yes, you can surf in Thailand. Well, yes…and no. Thailand’s largest island, Phuket, is blessed with beautiful white sand beaches, a coastline of blue-green warm waters, and picturesque sunsets. The surf, however, isn’t known for the same standard of exotic perfection. However, if you know when and where to look, waves produced by short period wind swells and less frequent groundswells are surfable and fun.

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Now, if you’re a swell-seeking surfer strictly set on getting spit out of overhead barrels then you’re better off heading to well-known surf destinations. However, you’ll be surprised (and stoked) to know that there can be fun waves for anyone who also wants to experience why Thailand is consistently one of the top travel destinations in the entire world.

Since Phuket gets less consistent ground swells mainly due to the obstruction of the northern tip of Sumatra, located over 300 km southwest from Phuket’s most southern point, local surfers usually settle for strong wind waves produced across the Andaman Sea. However, SW groundswells originating in the Indian Ocean do occasionally pass through the Great Channel (between Banda Aceh, Sumatra, and the Great Nicobar Island) leaving locals and fortunate well-timed surfer tourists with clean, fun high-quality waves.

Occasionally, we get swells from the West-Northwest around September and October, which can also produce some of Thailand’s most enjoyable waves.

Image: Dr. Steven Martin Education Abroad Asia – Study in Phuket

We have two distinct seasons: the NE monsoons produce our “Hot Season.” The SW monsoons produce our “Green Season.” Green season is your best bet for coming to Thailand and finding some fun surf.

Image: Dr. Steven Martin Education Abroad Asia – Study in Phuket

Northeast Monsoon – High and Dry 
Throughout the high tourist season of November to April, the Northeast monsoon (winds that blow downwardly from as far as mainland China) is prevalent and the weather stays fairly consistent as air temperatures range from 24°C to 32°C (75°F to 89°F) with some cool breezes that give us a bit of relief at times. Rainfall is minimal, thus making it a popular time for tourists to visit from all over the world, especially those who are escaping cold winter months in their home country.

Due to Phuket’s location and surrounding Asian nations, the Northeast winds don’t stir up much wind swell along the west coast, leaving much of Phuket’s west facing surf breaks flat with glassy conditions. Obviously, this is downtime for local surfers but it does make it a terrific time to explore SUP activities and other ocean related activities like snorkeling, wind surfing, or kiteboarding throughout various regions of Thailand.

Southwest Monsoon – Surf’s Up 
Although characterized as our green season thanks to more rain, the southwest monsoon just means that winds blow upwardly from the southwest region over the Indian Ocean, bringing relatively more rainfall and higher humidity than the high and hot season.

During this low tourist season period of May to October, the majority of tourists vanish like David Copperfield in his heyday. You’re likely to find hotels and villas offering major discounts off peak season prices. Rows of beach umbrellas, sunbeds, and beer-bellied fat guys sporting banana hammocks are also cleared out, creating a completely different scene. Coincidentally, this time happens to be your best bet for surfing in Thailand. Yewww!

Yes, it does rain but it’s typically marked by intermittent, short bursts of downpours followed by clear blue skies. In fact, the majority of the green season is predominantly sunny and warm. It can get pretty hot too, particularly at the start of surf season, which is around early April. This has been a misconception by many but those who don’t mind some rain and who are keen on this do take advantage of the slashed prices and minimal crowds around the island. Occasionally, storms do overlap, resulting in intermittent rainy conditions for days or even weeks (rarely) at a time. As with anywhere else in the world, weather conditions and Mother Nature can be highly unpredictable.

Local surfers are more than content surfing an uncrowded break with onshore windy conditions (and if they’re not, Bali is a short hop, skip, and a jump away). However, these onshore conditions created by local wind swells do have a clearing up period, resulting in clean-faced, lined-up, rippable waves that can last for days. Consider yourself lucky if you happen to be visiting around that time.

Although our high NE Monsoon season is typically flat and dry (but not always), there is a very small chance of swell popping up during these months. However, if you’re planning your trip to Phuket during our low, green season, then your odds of getting rained on increases but the likelihood of catching some surf in Thailand does too.

Note: You can learn more from the author about surfing in Thailand here.



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