We all know Thailand is the perfect location for diving, snorkeling, partying, and chilling, but did you know it’s also a great spot for beginners to learn surfing too? You might not be aware, because it’s not been on the global surf radar for long, but its popularity as a surf destination is growing.
Since the surf scene was ‘discovered’ in the ’90s, more and more surf camps, surf schools, and surf hostels have opened up. And more and more surfers are heading to Thailand to make the most of the underrated and often empty waves. Which, thanks to a combination of geographical features, are perfect for beginners and intermediates!
There are plenty of remote and underexplored surfing spots in Thailand, but we’re concerned with the best ones for beginners. So we’ve put together a list of seven great beaches perfect for those starting out, based on the waves, ease of access, facilities, and tourist appeal.
Bang Tao – Phuket
Bang Tao is one of Phuket’s longest and most beautiful beaches. At 8 km long with very little in the way of development, it will give you serious desert island vibes. The northern end is particularly peaceful but is also home to the biggest of the waves. We recommend beginners head for the central and southern sections of the beach, where the waves are most friendly. This is also where you’ll find the most life and amenities including beach bars, restaurants, and surf schools.
Even if you don’t require lessons, it’s wise to start by talking to one of the local surf schools or rental shops because Bang Tao is home to shifting sandbanks that can cause unpredictable surf conditions. So check with the experts before heading out.
Kata Beach – Phuket
Perhaps the most famous surf beach in Phuket, Kata Beach is the beating heart of the island’s surf scene. The beautiful crescent-shaped bay is dotted end to end with surf shops, board rental stands, and surf schools and is home to an annual surf competition that attracts internationally renowned surfers.
While the waves will never reach the heights of other global surf spots, Kata Beach does get some of the best swells in Thailand and can sometimes hit quite hard. For this reason, it’s an excellent beach to head to if you have a mixture of surfing levels in your party. More advanced surfers can find some fun breaks here, while beginners will still be within their comfort zone. And you don’t even need to get in the ocean to enjoy the surf here. Thanks to the FlowRider permanent wave at Surf House you can always find the perfect wave, and a near-constant party.
If you want your holiday to be all about the surf, we recommend finding accommodation close to Kata Beach and making the most of the friendly, lively, surf-hub vibes.
Kata Noi – Phuket
Kata Beach’s status as the epicenter of all surfing in Phuket can mean that it gets busy, especially when the swell is good. While this is not really a problem for beginners, it can still be a little intimidating. So if you want a beach that’s close to all of the action of Kata but a little removed from the crowds, head south to smaller Kata Noi.
At only 700m long, Kata Noi is one of Phuket’s smaller beaches but still has all the amenities you could want, including beachside cafes and bars, board rental, and surf schools. And it’s gorgeous, so plan to linger a while after you finish surfing. Beginners should head to the southern end of the beach, where the waves are consistently shorter and gentler than at the north.
Kamala Beach- Phuket
Another beach that’s great for a mixed crew of surfers is Kamala Beach, where you’ll find waves for all abilities. Beginners should head to the southern end of the 2.5km long beach and enjoy the sandy sea bed and gentle waves that tend not to get higher than 1m tall. As you move up the beach, there are sandbars and waves up to 3m high, proving more of a challenge for intermediate surfers. And the north end is an advanced-only area since it’s home to a reef break that can be dangerous to anyone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
You’ll find plenty of surf schools and board rental places along this beach, as well as lots of restaurants and bars. It’s a fairly chilled area compared to more lively Kata Beach, so it’s perfect for anyone wanting a peaceful surf vacation. Try to visit in August when there’s a locally organized surfing competition that’s always fun to watch.
Khuk Khak Beach – Khao Lak
An hour and a half north of Phuket is the much less visited area of Khao Lak. It is best known as the jumping-off point for dive trips to the Similan Islands but also has a growing, well-respected surf scene. The vibe here is laid-back, welcoming, and beginner-friendly. Surf Schools and lessons are easy to find, as are like-minded surf lovers willing to talk waves over a cold beer.
Head straight for Memories Beach Bar. This is the heart of the surf scene in Khao Lak and is located at the north end of Khuk Khak Beach, where it meets Pakarang Beach. This friendly spot will serve you food, drink, and advice all day long. It also has an attached surf rental shop that will get you kitted out. Once out on the water, you’ll find gentle swell breaking over a safe sandy sea bed, and generally, very few other people crowding your wave.
Klong Dao – Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta, located some 250 miles down the coast from Phuket, is one of our favorite Thai islands. It’s more laid back and less developed than Phuket and is a wonderfully relaxed vacation destination. It’s also home to some of Thailand’s best surfing, receiving more groundswell than Phuket and occasionally getting waves up to 4m tall.
There are several remote surfing spots on Lanta, but the best beach for beginners is Klong Dao. Here you’ll find a soft sandy sea bed and mellow waves that break both left and right and plenty of surf camps and schools to help you get started.
The 2km long beach is a beautiful expanse of white sand backed by beachside bars and restaurants perfect for an after-surf beer with a beautiful sunset view. The best time to surf here is June – August, when the waves are most consistent, and the vibe is lively without feeling crowded.
Chaweng Beach – Koh Samui
As we mentioned at the start, surfing in the Gulf of Thailand is rare but not impossible. If you’re committed to finding surf on the east side of Thailand, you need to head to Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui. It’s the best place to find decent waves, but it’s still a waiting game. Since there’s no groundswell on this site, you’re at the mercy of the local winds. But the surf does come, often late in the season, with some of Samui’s best conditions occurring in October. So keep an eye on the conditions and when the waves are hitting, get out there!
Chaweng is the busiest, most developed beach on the island, so even if there are no waves, you won’t struggle to occupy yourself. It’s a little lacking in dedicated surf schools, but you’ll find decent surf shops, surf and bodyboard rental, and plenty of friendly locals willing to offer their services as instructors.
Is the surfing in Thailand good for beginners?
Surfing in Thailand is great for beginners. This country does not attract the massive swells and large surf crowds of other more popular surf spots but offers small, empty waves perfect for beginners. With warm waters, plenty of sunshine, delicious food, beautiful beaches, rich history, endless activities, and vibrant nightlife, Thailand makes for a great surf holiday destination.
Where is the best place for beginners to surf in Thailand?
Phuket is the best place for beginners to base themselves. Thailand’s largest island is the undisputed hub of the country’s surf industry. It gets the best of the swell and has the largest concentration of surf schools, surf camps, and hostels. You’ll find a choice of beaches, but Kata Beach and Bang Tao are considered the best starting place for beginners.
When is the best time for surfing in Thailand?
The surfing season in Thailand stretches from April through to November, with the best months being June, July, and August. This is opposite to the peak tourist season, which runs from November to March. While this might disappoint some people, it can be a blessing. The price of everything, from flights to accommodation to excursions, drops outside of peak season, making for a cheaper holiday with fewer crowds.
Is the surfing safe for beginners in Thailand?
The waters of Thailand are generally safe for surfing. In fact, the sandy sea beds, small waves, and lack of dangerous marine life make Thailand safer than many more popular surf destinations. However, strong currents are common on many of Thailand’s surf beaches, and these can be dangerous if you don’t know how to cope with them. Our best advice is to take some lessons with a qualified surf school who will make sure you’re aware of the dangers before taking to the water. Then, always pay attention to the conditions when going surfing.