Dec 16 – Jan 17
When I went on a trip to Thailand, it was not my intention to build a holiday around surfing but it somehow ended up being just that.
Khao Lak is a sleepy little town (okay, not that sleepy, and not that little) that is about 1.5 hours north of Phuket. According to the expats there, it is what Phuket was like 30 years ago; it’s relaxed, surrounded by beautiful waterfalls, populated by beaches each with a few Thai resorts, and not exactly where you would go if you are after a wild night out fuelled by cheap Singha’s. But that suited me just fine.
Where to surf:
In the region of Khao Lak is Cape Pakarang on the Andaman coast. The best surfing, I’ve read, is from April to November. I was there in late December / early January and found that it was truly a beginner/intermediate surfer’s dream. There are head high days (or so I was told), but it’s mostly small, very warm and playful. I got away with surfing in my bikini, even on the days that it rained.
I surfed at a break at Pakarang beach, but just to the north of it is Bang Niang river mouth (I was hesitant to surf here as I was not at all confident about the water source) and further north is Cape Pakarang reef, which I’m told really cranks during the high season on the right swell.
It was too small for the reef break to be working, but Pakarang beach had some fun, small, long wave. Water conditions were warm and perfectly glassy. The paddle out was very easy, and it was lovely to see just as many Thai locals paddling out as the tourists.
The locals are actually super friendly, cheered for each other (and me!) when I could stand up on a wave, and just genuinely warm and lovely.
Board rental – Memories Beach Bar:
Right in front of the break is Memories Beach Bar, reminiscent of a 70’s beach shack complete with hippy dippy music and a very chill vibe. Just behind Memories Beach bar is Pakarang Surf Shop (http://pakarangsurfshop.com), run by two brothers who looked like they surf their local break almost every day.
When I was there, they were renting out boards at the following rates:
- 100 baht – 1 hour
- 300 baht – half a day
- 500 baht – whole day
How to get there:
The break is very close to Apsara Beachfront Resort and Villa. It also sits directly in front of Memories, and link here from them best explains the route to take from Khao Lak centre: http://memoriesbar-khaolak.com/how-to-get-here/
I tried to find a shortcut via roads that appeared to exist on Google maps, and I can safely say, “don’t do what I did.” The “shortcut” trail went from road, to bitumen road, to single file cat track big enough for our scooter tires…just, and then stopped at the beach…but 600m south of the actual break… It was not my finest moment, but did make for a fun tale to tell friends (but very much after the fact)
All in all, it’s definitely a great beach to try your hand at surfing in a relaxed environment where the locals are warm and welcoming.
Pakarang Surf Shop also have SUPs for rent, which looked fun on the flatter days. There’s also a volleyball net there, and of course, you can always just relax on deck chairs and sip on a cocktail.