Illegal jet skis return to Phuket’s Surin Beach

Tourists terrorised by drunken hooligans on powerful machines

For the umpteenth time, the local provincial marine office has started clamping down on illegal jet skis and parasail boats in the sea off Phuket’s Surin Beach.

Along Millionaire’s Row on the west coast, Phuket’s Surin Beach is surrounded by boutiques, high-end resorts and residences. It’s popular year-round, and an excellent spot for sunbathing on fine white sand, with the Andaman Sea stretching out before you. Its calm and clear waters are excellent for snorkelling and kayaking, as well as boogie-boarding and surfing.

The Phuket provincial administration wants to keep Surin beach free from all marine sports, so the public can swim in the sea without fear of being harmed by drunken hooligans on powerful machines. The beach is strictly off-limits to all motorised marine sports activities.

Tourists and locals alike are sharply divided between the danger and the nuisances. Absolutely no one feels neutral about a jet ski in the midday sun. Marine officials showed up at the beach on Friday after the latest complaints about jet skis and parasail boats operating too close to the beach.

The officials rounded up five jet skis and one parasail boat and summoned their owners for questioning and examination of their operating licenses. Of course, the owners have no licenses, since no such licenses exist. Operators are also acutely aware of the rules, through repetitive disputes about noisy disturbances on the beach.

The jet skis were found to have licenses to operate off Bang Thao Beach, while the parasail boat was permitted to operate in the sea off Kamala Beach. Both beaches are about 3 kilometres from Phuket’s Surin Beach. Each offending craft was fined 10,000 baht (US$300).

Jet ski hire in Phuket generally costs about 7,500 baht for five hours, to say nothing of the ever-popular jet ski scams which might bring in even more than the hiring business.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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