JAMIE'S PHUKET: The Splash Jungle Water Park opened in early 2010. I think everyone agreed that Phuket needed a waterpark. Ideal for tourists, for family fun in the sun.
However, not everyone was so enthusiastic when it opened. Most of the tourists in Phuket stay at the main beaches – Patong, Karon and Kata. Splash Jungle opened as part of the West Sands Resort at Mai Khao Beach, just north of Phuket Airport, and that’s 40-45km from the main beaches. Location.
And then the price. Full rate is B1,495 for adults and B750 for kids. In other words, for our family of four we’d pay B4,490.
It’s not cheap, although they had a “local price” for a while, and also have a membership package which works well for people like us who are likely to be back.
So we drove up on a Saturday, the car park was packed with about four minibuses and 10 cars. To be clear – it was not very busy. Now that’s my kind of place – a tourist attraction without the tourists!
OK, it was low season and the weather was not perfect (though I ended the day with my usual mild sunburn), but I thought there would be more people here.
I know it’s not “Thailand” – this place is pure watery fun, and due to the combination of price and location, I had not been there.
My wife and kids had been once on Thai national Children’s Day – there was a special promotion for the day with kids getting in for free. This time we paid up for membership, so now we are sure to go again!
Inside, you have changing rooms with hundreds of lockers, then you cross a bridge over the “lazy river” which runs around the whole complex – you can drift around with or without an inflatable ring (the “river” is shallow enough for even our 6-year-old to stand up in).
We drifted around it a few times, passing under bridges and waterfalls. The river would be the least adrenaline-fueled attraction! We found a chair to dump our stuff – the open areas are filled with beach chairs all shaded with umbrellas.
Don’t leave valuables on the chair unattended, but towels and clothes and sandals are not likely to go astray.
So the idea is to bag a chair, then go and have fun! The kids all started at the kids’ play area, but that area really is for little tiny kids. So we progressed to the slides.
There are many different waterslides – 3 of them head down to the same splash pool – the green slide was pretty scary! My son went down countless times, I went twice.
The first time I went down I shocked the lifeguard at the bottom by shooting off the end at full speed, 110 kilos of speeding fat panda coming down! I’m generally not into adrenaline rushes, I prefer nice and easy scuba diving or a gentle bike ride. The waterslide called “Boomerango” seemed to be beyond me.
Boomerango works like this: You shoot off the highest point of the slide tower down a steep ramp, shoot up the other side and then off to the splashdown pool. I was worried that someone my size might go too fast and shoot right off the top of the ramp.
My kids both went on it – they kind of wandered off without Mum and Dad for a while, they had found some school friends and did the rides with them on rings for two.
Next to the Boomerango is the Super Bowl – again you launch from the top of the tower down a tube and then into this huge bowl which you spin around several times and then out and down another tube in the center. Not too scary!
We were impressed by the safety at Splash Jungle. There are loads of staff, there are people to help you onto the rides and people in the splashdown pools to catch you.
There are lifeguards all over the place, so we weren’t too concerned about the kids going off and doing their own thing.
After a few hours we were getting hungry. We decided not to eat at the park restaurants – there are three of them, and they are not that cheap.
But I enjoyed the day. Fun for me, and a lot of fun for the kids.
Jamie Monk works at liveaboard dive specialists Sunrise Divers. For more information call: 084 626 4646 or visit: sunrise-divers.com