by Harriet Bond
(San Francisco, CA, USA)
Watersports are popular at many Thai resorts, but the disturbance they cause to the environment has resulted in them being banned in places such as Krabi. However, at most other seaside towns it is possible to rent windsurfing boards and jet skis. Banana boat rides are common, even in places such as Ko Samet.
For the best range of such sports, vacationers should head to Hat Jomtien in Pattaya, or try resorts in Hua Hin, Cha-am, and Hat Patong or Hat Karon in Phuket.
Anglers can make use of the excellent big-game fishing opportunities with Pattaya Fishing in Chonburi and Dorado Game Fishing or Aloha Tours in Phuket, but they must pay in excess of 10,000 baht for boat rental. The Barracuda Bar in Pattaya also arranges for freshwater lake fishing.
Thailand’s dramatic coastline is popular with the yachting fraternity who come to Phuket every December for the King’s Cup Regatta. Chartering a yacht – with or without a skipper – is possible, although rates for this exclusive activity are not cheap.
Sailing companies such as Gulf Charters Thailand operate on the Eastern Seaboard, where sea breezes are often ideal, but the widest choice of sailing companies is in Phuket.
Some of the best known are Phuket Sailing, Yachtpro, and South East Asia Liveaboards.
Sea-canoeing is not just the most peaceful way to enjoy the unusual karst islets of Phang Nga Bay and the Ang Thong archipelago, but also the only way to explore their collapsed sea caves. Ringed by forest and often containing tiny beaches, many of these spectacular hongs, or underwater caves, were discovered by John Gray’s Sea Canoe Thailand, which, along with Sea Canoe Thailand, runs the most responsible tours to these fragile “lost worlds”.
Another reliable outfit that operates tours around Phang Nga Bay, Ko Tarutao Marine National Park, and the huge reservoir in Khao Sok National Park is Paddle Asia.
WHITE-WATER RAFTING AND KAYAKING
Sedate bamboo rafting is a popular tourist pastime, particularly in the Phang Nga area where Adventure Camp is the acknowledged leader. More exciting, although, is white-water rafting on hardy inflatables.
No experience is necessary apart from the ability to swim, since instruction is given to paddlers before setting out, and each raft has a crew capable of dealing with any emergency. The Wild Planet provides good information on the best times and places. The season for whitewater rafting and kayaking lasts from July to December.