Phuket has been gaining an international reputation for game fishing. The surrounding waters of the Andaman Sea and the now famous Drop Off, west of Phuket, are home to some of the world’s most prized game fish.
The fish-rich waters of the Andaman Sea offer exceptional fishing for Wahoo, Dorado, Barracuda, Giant Trevally, Rainbow Runner, King Mackerel, Cobia, Queenfish, numerous species of Tuna, several species of Shark and one of the most sought-after gamefish - the Black Marlin.
Trips to nearby islands such as Racha Island, operate year round. Trips further afield, such as to the Similan Islands, the previously unfished waters of Burma's Mergui Archipelago, the Burma Banks and the Andaman Islands, operate during the high season from November to March.
Fishing charters vary widely in the types of boats, level of equipment and experience of the skipper. Most of the inexpensive trips that you can book at local travel agents can be a lot of fun. However, really serious big game fishing with all the gear can cost quite a bit and you need to go with a proper fishing charter company.
Phuket ranks as one of the world's top ten dive destinations, and with good reason. The water is warm and teeming with marine life; the Andaman being one of the most diverse seas on the planet. If you are lucky you might see whale sharks and manta rays. There are literally hundreds of islands and reefs to be explored by day trips or liveaboard cruises from Phuket, and a wealth of sites providing a wide range of diving opportunities.
Phuket possesses an abundance of dive companies, all ready to give you accredited instruction, provide equipment for hire, and take you on day trips or extended trips to more distant dive spots. The competition this has created among dive operators means a very high standard of safety, training, quality equipment and facilities. At the same time, prices remain very reasonable.
Conditions and Visibilty: Diving in Phuket's clear blue waters is best from November through to May, when the calm seas and rain free days make diving here an extraordinary experience. However, monsoon winds and surface swells in the Andaman Sea during the rainy season, running from late May to October, can make remote spots inaccessible. (See Phuket's climate for more information).
Due to the weather and low volume of tourists, there are not many dive companies that operate regular liveaboard excursions during this period. However, day trips continue to run throughout the year, and the lower volume of boat traffic during the rainy season often means there is more marine life to be seen.
Water temperatures at the surface range from 26 – 29?C (79 – 84?F). During March and April, unpredictable thermoclines may cause a temporary drop of a few degrees, though at depth this can be as much as 10?C (18?F). Water temperature is highest during May and June.
Visibility is usually best at the start of the dry season, beginning in November, and can be as clear as 40m (130ft). Visibility is variable during the rainy season and is not necessarily influenced by the rain. Sometimes it can be very good, though occasionally storms can stir up silt which clouds the water at some sites.
Whether you're a total beginner or an experienced diver wishing to upgrade your skills, Phuket is a great place to take diving courses. Ranging from short introductory courses, which include a sample dive, to divemaster programs, there is something to suit every skill level. Standards of diving instruction are extremely high, and most dive centres will accept a referral as long as all your documents are in order. A PADI Open Water Diver Course will typically take 3-4 days to complete.
If you don't fancy diving or simply haven't got the time to do a dive course, snorkeling is an enjoyable way to view Phuket's underwater beauty. An added bonus to snorkeling is that you have a better chance of seeing fish, as the bubbles from aqua lungs can frighten them away.
Snorkeling can be enjoyed by simply hiring a mask, snorkel and fins from a nearby dive shop and swimming out to one of the reefs on Phuket's west coast, (not recommended during the rainy season). The area between Koh Pu and Kata Beach is one of the best snorkeling spots that you can get to without a boat. Other beaches with good reefs include: Kata Noi and Laem Singh. Paradise Beach and Freedom Beach are also worth considering, and are only a short longtail boat ride from Patong.
For healthier coral, charter a longtail boat from Rawai to one of the offshore reefs and islands, such as Coral Island (Koh Hae). Alternatively, most tour companies provide day trips that include snorkeling at some of the neighbouring islands such as Phi Phi. If you are staying on Phi Phi Don, boats can be chartered from Ton Sai beach to the nearby spots such as Maya Bay or Bamboo Island.
Most dive trips and liveaboards have space for non-divers, meaning you can go along as a snorkelling. Prices are often half for non-divers.
First off, Phuket is not a world class surfing destination. If you want a surfing holiday then you are better off going somewhere else. That said, during the rainy season from May to October, there are rideable waves, which even though they aren't big can be a lot of fun. For the rest of the year, it is almost totally flat with the very occasional freak swell but don't hold your breath.
There are some decent long rides to be had, but you have to be a bit lucky to catch good waves here. Too often the surf can be mushy and blown out. The best conditions occur after the monsoon winds have blown for a few days, then suddenly stop. The swell continues for several days after the wind has died, allowing for some decent breaks.
During the dry season, Phuket's waters are ideal for water skiing. Most of the main beaches such as Patong have speedboat operators that hire their boats and equipment for water skiing.
Situated in Kathu is Phuket Water-Ski Cableways, an artificial lake with an overhead cable that tows skiers and wakeboarders round a rectangular course. Cable skiing is slightly more difficult than skiing behind a boat but great fun and can be enjoyed in any weather.
Life jackets and boards are provided. Types of boards available include kneeboards, wakeboards, double-skis and mono-skis. For experienced wakeboarders there is a rail slide and a few ramps to launch yourself off.
Windsurfing equipment is available for hire at most major beaches on Phuket, either from resorts or from local shops. Boards may be rented by the hour, half-day, full day or longer. Lessons for beginners are available.
The best time for windsurfing in Phuket is during the dry season, from November to May, when the wind is steady and the sea is calm. The winds are steadiest from November to February. Windsurfing during the rainy season, from May to October is not recommended due to the rough seas and monsoon winds.
During the dry season the beaches to check out are Bang Tao, Patong, Kata and Rawai.
Thailand's very long coastline and the large number of islands make the region one of the best oceanic playgrounds in South East Asia. This is especially true on Phuket, with its constantly growing marina industry making it one of the most popular destinations for boat owners and sailing enthusiasts.
Fascinating sights and rock formations turned Phuket province into one of the major sailing grounds in South East Asia offering spectacular sailing and boating all year around. Phang Nga Bay on the east coast is a well sheltered sailing ground, which enables cruising and sailing the whole year, even during the monsoon season when other parts around the island are suffering from too much rain and wind. The sea on the west coast is usually very rough during the rainy season, when the southwest monsoon pours enormous amounts of rain across the region for one or two weeks. These periods alternate with lighter spells where the weather is beautiful and the sea is rather calm and therefore perfect for sailing and boating.
The region offers beautiful islands on which one will find enchanting rivers and waterfalls. Especially on the east coast, where beautiful limestone rock formations protrude out of the water, some of which are as high as 350 metres from the seabed. The very warm temperatures all year around as well as the regular winds make sailing and cruising around Phuket an absolute pleasure.
Many of the islands surrounding Phuket are stunningly beautiful and most are uninhabited. However, you need a boat to get there. Boat charter companies offer a comprehensive range of options including bareboats, crewed and luxury boats as well as join-ins, game fishing charters and high speed water taxi services, for a day or longer.
You can also charter sailing yachts, fishing boats and liveaboards. As well as a sailing crew, the boats are normally equipped with cooks who can prepare fantastic meals while you are at sea. Take an overnight cruise and enjoy the best times of day: early morning and sunset.