Phuket, Thailand is a tourist hotspot and one of the best places to begin a charter boat sailing holiday. The western Malay Peninsula is increasingly popular amongst holiday sailors, and Phuket is at the heart of it. The Andaman Sea has something for everyone, from agreeable conditions and picture-postcard sandy beaches to wonderful cultural experiences and great nightlife.
We work with a number of excellent operators based in the Andaman Sea, most of them out of Phuket. Let us sort through all the available boats and recommend the best options to suit your vacation plans. Some of the companies we work with offer extra services that are unique to this destination. We will personalize your proposal and give you the benefit of our knowledge and contacts, for a most-enjoyable sailing holiday in Southeast Asia.
Choose a boat from the modern Phuket charter fleet and set out on your adventure; discover new places, meet new people and experience the Tropics as never before.
The sailing grounds of the western Malay Peninsula stretch from the national park islands of the north to quintessentially tropical getaways just offshore southern Thailand and right down to Langkawi just across the border with Malaysia. But you don't need to sail far at all from Phuket's Yacht Haven Marina to find some of the most idyllic places to explore.
If planning a Phuket sailing vacation and time as usual is limited, you may well find you have a difficult decision to make - what not to see. In a nutsehell, to sail north or south? That is the question.
Northward lie the famed Similian Islands and further on Ko Surin, an offshore national park close to the Burmese border. You need time to truly discover these watery wonderlands. They are easily accessible, but note the road bridge at the northern end of Phuket means sailing the long way round, whcih makes a day sail to Similan a very long one. Many charterers choose to get there via stopovers on the western side of Phuket, Thap Lamu and/or inshore Ko Pra Thong, a delightful place where you can just about rely on being all alone in the bay.
We suggest a two-week charter to make the most of these special places north of Phuket and the time involved in getting to them. If there's less time on hand it's stil possible and well worth the commitment. The downside is all those other places that you've read about to the south that have to wait for another time. Planning an itinerary is like selecting from a menu. It's a matter of choice from all the great offerings available.
Note that from May to September sailing north of Phuket is not recommended (and may be prohibited by the operator), due to the effects of the southwest monsoon.
If you plan to keep your charter close to Phuket, you can enjoy all the island itself has to offer the visitor while still getting the most out of your boat. The western shore of Phuket has some of the nicest spots you will find on your travels, with places for snorkelling and diving such as the coral reefs off Kata Beach. From there it's an easy half-day sail south to spectacular Koh Phi Phi, where the movie 'The Beach' was filmed. Directly east of Phuket is sheltered Phang Nga Bay, a picturesque place of traditional Thai villages and striking limestone formations with their unique sea caves.
Further south and about halfway to Langkawi on a one-way hire to/from Phuket lie the Ko Rok Islands. More of the same clear water with brilliant snorkelling, sun drenched beaches and friendly people you may say. But every small island in the Andaman Sea has something different to offer, every peaceful anchorage an endpoint in itself from which to loook back on another wonderful day of sailing, where you can totally relax in the evening, and take an early-morning walk in the lush tropical forest before setting out once more.
This is but a very brief overview that mentions some of the more popular places to visit on a Phuket sailing vacation. There are so many more, all of them accessible, safe, inviting - and awaiting your arrival.
The Andaman Sea has distinct wet and dry seasons as determined by the monsoons, but stormy conditions are very rare. The northeast monsoon coincides with peak tourist season in Phuket, in the months of October to April. The weather is consistently good at this time, with light to moderate breezes from the sheltered northeast and calm waters.
From May to September the wind is in the southwest and somewhat stronger, and the coast is more exposed. The southwest monsoon wind range is normally 15 - 25 knots and less predictable than during the north-westerly pattern. This period also brings the rain, but there are numerous fine anchorages sheltered from the south and west to make a sailing holiday comfortable if you keep your plans flexible. This is the low season, and best to limit your itinerary to the area from Phuket south. The weather is still warm, and sailing conditions can be surprisingly good, particularly in the shoulder periods. Expect the occasional afternoon tropical downpour followed as often as not by a still night.
Average daytime temperatures vary only marginally, from 30°C (86°F) in June to 27°C (80°F) in December. The tidal range can exceed 2.5 metres, so tide needs to be considered when navigating and anchoring. Plenty of landmarks mean navigation is line-of-sight, keeping a careful eye on the chart and GPS to avoid the numerous coral reefs. Whatever the time of year, a sailing vacation out of Phuket is within the capability of sailors who have confidence in basic coastal navigation.
With growing interest in boat charters out of Thailand and Malaysia, Sail Connection's Robert Cross chartered a catamaran in the low season, to find out for himself the nature of the weather at that time of year and how suitable it is for a sailing holiday. Here's Robert's account of the trip.
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