A locals guide to exciting sport activities in Phuket

Top 12 Adventure, Island, Snorkel, Scuba diving things to do in Phuket

By: John T, May 18, 2022

Adventure, Fun, and Sport activities during your Phuket holiday vacation

Adventure. Fun. Sun. Beach. Ocean. Energy. Excitement. These are traits you begin to think of when imagining an active summer vacation on a tropical island paradise. Here on Phuket island, Thailand, us locals dive deep into our Top 5 wonders of Phuket that cater to those craving fun, excitement, and active activities.

Check out the following link for those interested in our Top 30 best relaxing activity things to do in Phuket for families and friends

As a preview, the following are our Top adventure, island hopping, scuba, surfing activity things to do in Phuket, Thailand

  1. Island Hopping around Phuket (Phi Phi, Lanta, Turtle, James Bond islands)
  2. Thai National Parks in and near Phuket
  3. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Phuket
  4. Surfing in Phuket
  5. Inland Surf Schools in Phuket
  6. Sea Cave Exploration inside prehistoric Phuket canyon islands
  7. Paddling and Exploring Mangroves – a Phuket hidden gem sport activity
  8. ATV or Jungle Treking up Big Buddha Phuket
  9. Zorbing in a Plastic Ball in Phuket
  10. White Water Rafting and Bamboo Rafting in Phuket
  11. Zipline over Rainforest Jungles in Phuket
  12. Escape Room fun activity in Phuket

Island Hopping around Phuket (Phi Phi, Lanta, Turtle, James Bond islands)

Photo by Love Andaman at Phi Phi, Rok, Similan, and Maya islands

Surrounding Phuket, there are more than 9 major cluster of unspoiled islands - each with its own diverse range of corals teeming with marine life. These clusters are prime destinations for adventuring, snorkeling, and scuba diving as they are considered some of the most exotic and beautiful islands in the world. Naturally our local tip to all adventure-seeking tourist is to visit and hop around these islands.

In short, these clusters include the following:

  • Koh Phi Phi (Phi Phi island)
  • Koh Lanta (Lanta island)
  • James Bond island
  • Similan island
  • Surin island
  • Koh Yao Noi (Yao Noi island)
  • Koh Yao Yai  (Yao Yai island)
  • Koh Bon (Bon island)
  • Koh Khai (Khai Island)

We always recommend those looking to island hop to use Phuket as the base accommodation location due to the island’s well-balanced facilities (restaurants, shopping, and night life), but we get it, you may also want to extend your trip beyond Phuket out to an isolated island.

Talk to your hotel, visit a local tour operator, or a kayak company to begin your island hop adventure.

As there are so many beautiful and stunning islands around Phuket, Thailand, it would be impossible for us to go into all details. Instead, we will suggest a couple fan-favorite island clusters around Phuket below.

  • Phi Phi Islands
    • Eversince the movie, "The Beach" starred by Leonardo DiCaprio and released in the year 2000, Phi Phi island became famous. The film which took place at Phi Phi island’s stunning Maya Bay, a beautiful hidden blue lagoon, showcased the world for the first time the hidden beauty of Phuket and its surrounding islands. Phi Phi island is famous for its abundant snorkeling and scuba diving spots.
  • Phang Nga Bay
    • Phang Nga Bay is one of the more accessible island hop activities in Phuket due to its proximity to the island. Many tourists enjoy visiting the beautiful limestone caves and cliffs of Phang Nga Bay. One of the favored places to visit along the way is James Bond Island. The name being popularized due to the James Bond movie in 1974 “The Man With the Golden Gun,” that turned the unknown island into a world-class tourist destination. There is enough activities for tourists to do here such as snorkeling, kayaking a cave explorations.
    • A local's tip: To avoid the popular bus boat tours, our tip to those seeking a unique experience is to instead start your boating excursion at the Northern end of Phuket. Here you will run into less tourist and be able to stop at some more quiet and relaxing beaches and sights along the way.
  • Turtle Island (Koh Tao)
    • Koh Tao is a part of Chumphon Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Tao has been a backpacker's favorite for years, also known for its world class diving and snorkeling spots. This is an island that combines a colorful underwater world and an idyllic long beach, which attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Extreme Sport Tips - Those looking for an extreme sport can consider sea kayaking and island camping as their fun activity. As this is a dangerous activity, we only recommend doing it after you have found a professional kayaking shop that would from Phuket with a paddle to the aforementioned islands and beyond. Set up mini tent camps, cook, and sleep in the wilderness. Be sure to take all the trash with you when you depart!

Thai National Parks in and near Phuket

Photo by Dream Andaman Queen

Do you see the stunning photo of vibrant corals above? It may look unreal, but we promise you, it is real. This is a preview to some of Thailand's most famous National Parks. We chose to write an entire article on famous Thai National Parks in and near Phuket Thailand. The reasons National Parks deserve an entire section are listed in that article. We highly recommend planning dedicated excursions to these national parks. Some of these parks near Phuket include the following:

  • Similan Islands National Park
  • Koh Lanta National Park
  • Tarutao National Marine Park
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Sirinat National Park
  • Khao Phra Thaeo National Park

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling around Phuket (Phi Phi, Similan, Surin, and other islands)

Photo by Love Andaman

When you visit a true tropical island such as Phuket, you are given the rare opportunity to explore a whole new world that most eyes don’t get to see. We are talking about the underwater world.

Taking a day trip with a small tour company or with a privately rented speedboat to snorkel at some of popular locations is easily a relaxing opportunity to spend with your kids, friends, and/or family.

However, if you want to push the experience a little more uniquely, we recommend getting you and your party Scuba Diving certified for scuba diving all over the world’s hottest sites. For a small fee and a couple of hours training, you begin to dive out in the ocean with an instructor to catch a glimpse of rare indigenous marine life in their natural habitat.

To name a few, Phuket is blessed with animals such as Giant Manta Rays, friendly Whale Sharks, Hawksbill and Green Turtles, Eels, Clown Anemone Fish (more commonly known as Nemo), Harlequin Shrimp, and Clown Trigger Fishes. You won’t find many places around the world that have such a rich diversity of life, and we haven’t even mentioned Corals!

* * * * * 

Did you know that there are only a handful of spots IN Phuket that does not require you to boat to another island to snorkel or scuba dive?

  • Nakalay Reef at Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa
  • Nai Thon Beach
    • This beach has clear water and always ready for snorkeling with fishes close enough into the shore making your swimming memorable and nearly effortless. 
  • Paradise Beach
    • This beach is usually crowded but it is inhabited by larger granite rock beds and the coral reef sits about a bit over 100 meters out
  • Freedom Beach
    • Clear waters with white sand, this beach is an uncommon snorkeling spot.

Interesting Fact: For those coral conservation, us locals also recommend you and your party to check out the island’s most well known coral conservation program, which is a privately funded initiative that has been recognized by the Thai Government’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources as a legitimate initiative and has won awards from international communities for its work on coral conservation and research.

The best Surf beaches in Phuket - Kata, Kamala, Kalim Beaches

Photo by Whale Surf School

Waves in Phuket aren't huge, however, they are decent enough for beginners and medium-skilled surfers to find some action and fun.

For more information on the Best Time to visit Phuket for Surfing or for sunbatheing, festivals, and activities, check out this article.

Most beach surf locations in Phuket are scatterred on the west side of the island. Some of these popular locations include the following:

  • Kata Beach, Phuket (Recommended for ALL Levels of surfers)
    • Easily the most popular beach for Surfing in Phuket. This long beach offers waves that would be suitable for all ranges of skill - beginner to expert. Many surf houses and shops also line up this beach, so you can easily rent a surf board, some lockers, and maybe even a shower room here. 
  • Kamala Beach, Phuket (Recommended for ALL Levels of Surfers)
    • Surfers can find 1 to 3 metres of waves at Kamala Beach. There are some surf shops on this beach, but not as plentiful at Kata Beach, so be sure to research before visiting. This beach is an interesting choice as there is not only shows like Phuket Fantasea located here, but also good beachclubs like Cafe Del Mar here for you to enjoy after your activity. 
  • Nai Harn Beach, Phuket (Recommended for Intermediate surfers)
    • A popular spot for local surfers due to waves swelling as high as 0.5 to 3 metres across the beach. As rumored, a sandbar exists near the north part of the beach, which helps create fast waves. No surf shops or very limited number of surf shops are available here, so you will need to bring your own equipment or do more research. 
  • Kalim Beach, Phuket (Recommended for Advanced surfers)
    • This 100-metre long beach is a popular beach for surfing. With waves reaching up to 3 metres high and shallow coral reefs, Kalim Beach is not suitable for beginner surfers. Our recommendation to interested readers is to only go surfing here during mid to high tide as the shore is lined with rocky shallow coral reefs. Interesting fact - Kalim Beach often hosts yearly surfing contests in Phuket. Very few surf shops are available here, please do you research before going. 

Inland Surf schools in Phuket

Photo by Surf House and Whale Surf school

If you are looking to learn surfing inland, perhaps to get comfortable with the board before venturing into the sea OR you happen to arrive in Phuket Thailand during a non-surf season, then we recommend checking out some of the inland Surf Schools or learn Surfing on the beach!

For learning Surfing on the beach, you could check out the surf stores along Kata Beach. Some might be open for surf classes on the beach.

As for inland Surf Schools, we recommend checking out Surf House Phuket. At the time of this writing, there are a couple of surf houses scattered around many beaches. Surf House Phuket delivers a continuous sheet of water up a trampoline-like surface, providing an alternative but an ideal condition for surfing. Whether you are an expert surfer or beginner, you could enjoy the experience of surfing on perfectly consistent waves all day long.


Sea Cave Exploration inside prehistoric Phuket canyon islands

Photo by John, the author

Ever watched a Jurassic Park movie and wonder what it would be like to wander inside prehistoric canyons and caves? Here in Phuket, you can do just that by spending the time with your family to explore various ocean caves.

A typical Phuket Sea Cave Canoeing and Kayaking trip in Phuket often involves joining a boat with other enthusiast for a day trip with one free meal. Starting early, you head off towards the many limestone caves and cliff-lined lagoons in Phang Nga Bay and the Andaman Sea. Upon arriving at the destination, you board your canoe and kayak and head off to see Earth’s astonishing spectacles. If you are lucky, you might come across macaques, water monitors, kingfishers, mud-skippers, egrets, sea eagles and brahminy kites. Upon which you will be amazed how such animals can survive on these majestic islands far out in the ocean.

Navigating in and around these caves is not only fun but also exciting and a good work out. It would be an understatement

Paddling and Exploring Mangroves – a Phuket hidden gem sport activity

Photo by Escape.au

Paddle your way inside a mangrove is one of Phuket’s hidden gems. These mangroves are vital to Phuket’s coastal ecology as was evident decades ago when the mangroves acted as a natural barrier against large Tsunami waves and flood damages. Today, these forests are nurseries for fish and crustaceans. These underwater tree roots are a unique spectacle that also come with birds and macaques to see. Mangrove swamps in Phuket include Tha Chat Chai, Klong Mudong, and Baan Nam Khem. The most famous mangrove swamp is Takua Pa mangrove, just 2 hours north of Phuket.

ATV or Jungle Treking up Big Buddha Phuket

Big Buddha Temple is one of Phuket’s most iconic monuments. Sitting atop of Nakkerd Hill, this 45 meter tall statue serves as a scenic tourist spot for families and couples interested in fresh cool ocean air with 360 degree views of Phuket. Of course, looking over Phuket from the view point isn’t enough.

To get the most excitement out of this opportunity, we recommend either:

  • Renting an ATV at the foot of the hill
  • Driving up the fun road path around the hill and towards the top, where Big Buddha sits
  • Hiking and treking up a Jungle Trail.

For more information on other visit-worthy Thai Temples in Phuket, check our our article here.

White Water Rafting & Bamboo Rafting in Phuket

Photo by qbictravel and ppkktoursservice

Enough to occupy a Phuket full day's trip, fun white water rafting or pleasant bamboo rafting are activities that have been growing in popularity.

Just right beyond Sarasin Bridge in Phuket, the Phang Nga province is teemed with beautiful rivers and canals. Some have become good enough to provide Level 2 to Level 3 White Water Rafting or scenic Bamboo Raft experiences. Depending on the tour that you pick, you and your family & friends group could be participating in a 5 km to 10 km fun ride.

Pro Tip: Be sure to check with the tour operator for any bundles, which may include ATV car trips, hotel transfers, elephant bathing, temple visiting, and more. 

Zorbing activity in a Plastic Ball in Phuket

Roll down a hill in a big plastic ball filled with water. Lots of fun and laughter is guaranteed! Be assured as the roller balls (Zorbs) are specially designed plastic spheres which can safely descend down a hill with two passengers floating inside. With 190 meters of hill path, it is the world’s longest zorbing experience! 

Many places that provide the Zorbing activity frequently open and close, so we suggest readers to conduct more research on the most up to date Zorbing destination in Phuket. As of the time of this writing, Rollerball Zorbing Phuket @zorbingphuket on Facebook is open.

Zipline over Rainforest Jungles in Phuket

Photo by Hanuman World Phuket

Connect with Phuket's rainforest jungle by ziplining over it. 

Visit Hanuman World's Zipline to experience a variety of rainforest jungle activities, such as the following:

  • Rainforest Sky Walk - walk on top sky bridges high over a lush of green
  • Zipline across over 400 metres of jungle 
  • Zipline together with your couple or best friend on the Honeymoon Zipline
  • Abseil as high as 40 metres

Don’t miss the opportunity to try one of South East Asia's top rated rainforest experience. Flying Hanuman is a Phuket zipline adventure activity through 80,000 square meters of rainforest. Enjoy the thrilling adventure and fly across centuries-old trees.

Escape Room fun activity in Phuket

One could say an Escape Room activity is a mini adventure in it of itself.

In Phuket, you can find a variety of pop up Escape Rooms to enjoy with family and friends. Be a detective for a day and enjoy this “escape the room” games in the fast growing themed entertainment industry. Get locked up for 60 minutes in specially designed rooms with your friends, find clues and solve puzzles, and navigate your way out before time runs out! Choose from four different games: poisen in the dining room, kidnapping in the games room, fire on the sinking ship, and bomb in the workshop.