The clear waters that grace Phuket’s coasts entice travellers, as well as locals and expats, as the water is warm all year round. However, from May until October it’s extremely important to exercise caution on Phuket’s west coast beaches; this time of year is known as the southwest monsoon season. The monsoon brings a lot of rain, stirs up dangerous creatures such as jellyfish and stonefish, and also produces rough seas and high waves, as well as extremely dangerous rip currents.
Although there is a scattering of lifeguards employed year-round on Phuket’s beaches, the monsoon season unfortunately sees many tourist drownings and people needing to be rescued from the surf. However, it’s possible for accidents such as these to be avoided. Having an action plan before heading to the seaside is important. Check out our tips below to ensure a safe day out at the beach when holidaying in Phuket during the southwest monsoon season.
Heed warning flags
During this season there are often yellow and red flags placed on the beaches. If you’d like to swim, it’s best to speak to a lifeguard before going in the water. If there is no lifeguard present, use your very best judgement.
Red flags are warning signs advising beachgoers not to enter the water. Yellow flags indicate moderate currents and surf, warning that the water is rough and dangerous.
Check the weather
It’s important to remember that storms and the beach do not mix. Check the weather before heading to the beach. If it’s a stormy day, use the time as an opportunity to explore some of Phuket’s other tourist attractions. Remember, the weather during the southwest monsoon season in Phuket is decidedly sporadic and it doesn’t necessarily rain every day. The beach will still be there tomorrow!=
Know how to swim
It’s also important that you know how to swim. If you don’t, please refrain from getting into the water. Swimming in the sea is far different than swimming in a pool, and the ocean floor is not flat and can often change quickly and drastically. If you want to get in the water but can’t swim, wear a lifejacket and stay in the shallows.
Swim close to lifeguards
Lifeguards are aware of their beach surroundings and conditions much more than holidaymakers. If you’re playing in the surf, or choose to swim when the lifeguards say it’s safe, please make sure you keep them in your sight at all times.
Be aware of rip currents
Rip currents are caused when waves break away from the shore and cause a strong circulation in the water that results in what we know as a rip current.
When looking at the water, if you see a current of choppy water extending from the shore avoid this area. If you get pulled out by a rip current, the most important thing to remember is to remain calm. Let the current carry you for a while and save your energy. Don’t try to swim against the current, instead gain your composure and start swimming horizontal to the shore. Once you’re out of the current, and if you are able, swim diagonally towards the shore as you normally would.
Beach safety in Phuket is an important part of any tourist’s holiday as well as any local or expat’s daily life. With the southwest monsoon season comes a lot of rain and wind, and the realisation of just how powerful nature truly is. The ocean is no exception and Phuket’s beaches are a fine example of the strength of the waves.
When hitting the beach, please be sensible and take in your surroundings. Look at the waves, and figure out where the lifeguards are located. Remember that beach conditions in Phuket can change rather quickly. Ultimately, the lifeguards on duty are there to help you and keep you safe, so please listen to them if they tell you to get out of the water.
An enjoyable beach holiday in Phuket is possible during the monsoon season, but please remember to adhere to the rules and follow our beach safety tips to enjoy the Phuket experience to the maximum.
From May until October (the southwest monsoon season) the sea at Phuket’s west coast beaches must be treated with respect.