PHUKET’S main travel destination is certainly the beaches which attract more than 12 million wanderlusts a year. Before having your time on the white sandy beach and enjoy the salty wind with a blue ocean backdrop, ensure you are well prepared with all the important gears and knowledge about lazing on a Phuket’s beach.
Flags and Signs
Similar to many beaches across the globe, flags are put on each area of the beach to specify the risk level in the area. A red flag means it is hazardous to do any activity in the water and you should respect the warning as there are several cases each year of people who ignored the red flag and went for a swim. Only some of them were fortunately saved by the lifeguards. The red and yellow flag means it is a moderate risk and swimming under lifeguard supervision is recommended.
Signs are also important to notice such as “No Swimming,” “First Aid” and “Jellyfish.” On each beach, there are lifeguards working during day time along the beach and you can always ask them about security information.
During the monsoon season of Phuket, swimmers are warned to be extra careful of jellyfish, especially the deadly ones like Box Jellyfish. Always pay attention to the warning signs in the area.
Marine biologists advise to 1. Keep looking all around when in the water and try to swim with a partner. A sting can often immobilize a person, making it difficult to swim back to shore alone. 2. Consider wearing protective swimwear like a rash guard and swimming shoes. 3. Beware of seemingly dead jellyfish on the beach. If they were recently beached, they can still sting.
In case you are stung by one of the beasts, it is advised to:
- Take the injured from the sea and keep them still to reduce the spread of poison.
- Do not wash or scrub the affected area with water or suntan creams, as this will merely aggravate the sting.
- Liberally apply vinegar to the affected area to reduce the toxic response. Hotels, beach restaurants and diving outfits around Thailand have been ordered to keep bottles of vinegar easily accessible as part of their First Aid preparation.
- Goat’s Foot Creeper, which only relieves the pain, should be applied after using vinegar.
- Use sand to cover the sting area and dry out any remaining tentacles.
- In case the heart stops beating and there is no pulse, CPR should be primarily done to the injured.
- Do seek medical care if experiencing any ongoing symptoms.
Rash and Itching Protection
‘Sea lice’ are tiny little jellyfish or stinger larvae that have the same stinging cells but are way smaller than adult jellyfish or other stingers, so they can only give the annoying itchy bites. They are quite difficult to detect as they spread around the coast during any season. I personally heard Thai lifeguards and boat crews suggest to apply coconut oil before getting into the water to expel them away from you. A tight-fitting wetsuit can also protect you entirely. In case you get attacked, antihistamines, hydrocortisone creams and calamine lotion can treat the itchiness and rash that result from sea lice exposure.
Phuket may offer you bright sunny days that are enough to cook some eggs within hours and going to the beach with your beachwear will expose your body to intense sun rays, so make sure you are protected well. Choose the product with high SPF index and sun-protection lip balm and sun glasses when on the sand.
Basic items you should never bring to the beach are mats and beach umbrellas (if you prefer not to rent 100-300 baht/time from the providers). You can also go fancier by bringing a floating bean bag that is sold in the shops nearby. If you plan to have some refreshing drinks on the beach, don’t forget to bring a foam box to keep them fresh with some ice cubes. Snorkeling mask and kids’ beach toys are more expensive near the beach, so you’d better buy in advance from a retail shop in town or at a local mall.
By Nattha Thepbamrung