English Tutoring and Consulting

English Tutoring and Consulting

“Surf Doctor” Steven Andrew Martin, professor emeritus

English Tutor and Consultant for Students of All Ages and Backgrounds

Hello! I’m Steven, a retired professor of Asian Studies in Sociology and Anthropology.

My online English tutor name is “Surf Doctor” because I developed the “Surf Resource Sustainability Index” as part of my PhD in Environmental Management.

I enjoy teaching online. It is an enjoyable and convenient way to communicate with people around the world.

If you would like to connect with me for a lesson or consultation in English, please send a brief message here on my website contact page.

English Tutor and Academic Advisor Intro Video for Professor “Surf Doctor” Steven Andrew Martin

I have some experience with second language learning because I was an international student.

I studies Mandarin in China and Taiwan, Spanish in Costa Rica and Spain, and Afrikaans and Xhosa in South Africa. I can also speak Hawaiian-style English, or “Pidgin English”, the common language spoken throughout the Hawaiian Islands today.


Welcome to my bio-website, produced during my years working as a lecturer and professor in Phuket, Thailand.

As I am recently retired, I hope to continue contributing to international education through online teaching and learning platforms…

A Systematic Review of Surf Tourism Research in International Journals (2011-2020)

A Systematic Review of Surf Tourism Research in International Journals (2011-2020)


From Shades of Grey to Web of Science: A Systematic Review of Surf Tourism Research in International Journals (2011-2020)

Martin, S. A. (2022). From shades of grey to Web of Science: A systematic review of surf tourism research in international journals (2011-2020). Journal of Sport & Tourism, 26(2), 125–146. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14775085.2022.2037453


Previous research outlined the genesis of a new body of surf tourism research based on a wide array of grey and published literature (Martin & Assenov, 2012). The aim of this paper is to further investigate the development of the field through an evidence-based informetric analysis of international journal articles listed in Web of Science or Scopus databases. Employing a systematic review of journal papers published from 2011 to 2020, the study addresses the previous grey literature problem of accessibility and eligibility criteria for citation. Findings are drawn from explicit and tangential studies which capture an up-to-date overview of the evolution of surf tourism research. The study identifies active journals, authors, field locations, and leading areas of research, suggesting that the field has entered a period of ‘academic professionalization’. A bibliography of 96 journal articles presents academics and readers with a corpus of accessible research.

Keywords: citation criteria; Scopus; surf tourism research; systematic review; Web of Science

Teaching Demo

Teaching Demo

Teaching Demo for the Position of Associate Professor of Asian Studies in Sociology and Anthropology

In Thailand, a teaching demo is just one of the many elements required when applying for an academic title, such as assistant or associate professor.

Prince of Songkla University | Faculty of International Studies

The purpose of a teaching demo is to demonstrate the applicant’s ability to teach, including the use of new technologies, innovation, and integration of personal experience and research.

Additionally, fostering student participation through active learning is increasingly important.

Teaching Demo | Silk Road | Eastern Civilization | February 28, 2020

Teaching Demo (February 28, 2020)

Additional criteria for the position of Associate Professor includes the publication of research in peer reviewed journals relevant to the study area.

Three publications are required:

Prince of Songkla University | Faculty of International Studies

How to Conduct a Systematic Review | Online Research Presentation and Webinar | Steven A Martin, PhD

This online presentation and videotaped webinar suggests a strategy so powerful that they can lead you to master and publish scientific research papers in your chosen field of study. A systematic literature review is a ‘silver bullet’, a straightforward methodology once applied in medical research, now available in the social sciences.


New 2022 Publication | From Shades of Grey to Web of Science | Systematic Review

Martin, S. A. (2022). From shades of grey to Web of Science: A systematic review of surf tourism research in international journals (2011-2020). Journal of Sport & Tourismhttps://doi.org/10.1080/14775085.2022.2037453


Webinar | How to conduct a systematic review | 1:20:46


  • The powerful secret.
  • Identifying types of literature.
  • Inclusion and exclusion of studies.
  • Grey literature.
  • Developing annotated bibliographies.
  • Organizing files and folders.
  • Case example – Surf tourism.
  • Case example – Thai geography.
  • Conclusion – The silver bullet.
  • Suggestions and opportunities.
  • Relevant resources


Presentation slides | How to conduct a systematic review

Systematic Literature Review Infographic


  • Desk research (i.e. field research is not required).
  • Highly publishable as a research in its own right.
  • Highly citable once published.
  • Serves as a “super literature review” for future articles.
  • Mastery of the literature and subject area (long-term benefits).
  • Familiarity with scholars in the field of study.
  • Identification of knowledge gaps, hence justification of future research areas.
  • Results in a database of authors, files, references for future works.
  • Lead to future trend and meta-analyses.
  • Identify avenues for the publication of your research.


Systematic review of surf tourism research | Journal of Sport and Tourism

Examples: Systematic reviews of surf tourism research

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2012). The genesis of a new body of sport tourism literature: A systematic review of surf tourism research (1997-2011). Journal of Sport and Tourism, 17(4) 257–28

Martin, S. A. (2022). From shades of grey to Web of Science: A systematic review of surf tourism research in international journals (2011-2020). Journal of Sport & Tourism, 26(2) 125–146. https://doi.org/10.1080/14775085.2022.2037453


Thai geography literature review and research | Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

Martin, S. A., & Ritchie, R. J. (2020). Sourcing Thai geography literature for ASEAN and international education. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography41(1) 61–85.


Connect on Google Scholar

Connect on ResearchGate

Thank you for visiting my Systematic Review Page.

I hope you enjoyed this online research presentation and webinar. If you feel motivated to learn more about this research methodology, or would like to arrange for me to give a public talk, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Dr Steven A Martin and University Filmworks discover “What Makes a University Great?” at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Dr Steven A Martin and University Filmworks discover “What Makes a University Great?” at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Dr Steven A Martin and University Filmworks discover "What Makes a University Great?" at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel and Tourism Management

What Makes a University Great? | Click to Program Playlist on YouTube...

Dr Steven Martin wrote and hosted this short film under the direction of Edward E. Vaughan. The video explores the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) and focuses on the story of leadership and the Dean of School, Prof. Kaye Chon. The video was produced by University Filmworks.

At SHTM, Steven discovers a little universe where students, teachers and industry professionals come together with outstanding synergy, uncovering a story of outstanding educators and leadership.

What Makes A University Great? | Dr. Steven A. Martin Productions | University Filmworks

Surfing Experience

Surfing Experience

Surfing Experience and Lifestyle

Surfing is not just a sport, but also a way of life, with a wordless philosophy communicated effortlessly through photographs that inspire many people who have never even touched a surfboard.

Surfers live with the ocean, rising and falling with its waves. Their naturally photogenic lives are enriched not only by the healthy exercise of life at the beach, but also by the intercultural experiences that come with traveling around the world to find the best breaks.

In my early twenties, while working as an assistant chef, I began to look for ways to bring the surfing lifestyle into my work. Surfing was my favorite activity; that was what I did before and after work, and on my days off.

What is Surfing Experience and Lifestyle? – Fun, health, learning, lifesaving, research, teaching, travel and more! Click to learn more...

So I asked myself: Could I find work at the beach, or in the surf, and get paid for being in my chosen element?

Sadly, I was not good enough at surfing to be a professional surfer, but I had developed a personal philosophy of doing what I love, and loving what I do – and surfing was clearly what I loved to do.

I asked around at the five-star hotel where I’d been working, and sure enough, I was able to transfer to a new position at the same hotel, working with the beach and pool department as a lifeguard. From that day forward, my life changed.

I was getting paid to train as a lifeguard and swim on the beach every day, and encouraged to have fun surfing on my breaks.

Do what you love, and love what you do. Great advice!

Experiencing the surfing lifestyle at the Kahalu'u beach house in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | Click to Surfer's Journal page...

Lifeguarding and Water Safety

After working on the beach and making ocean rescues for about three years, I applied for a full-time job as a Hawaii County Lifeguard. In 1992, I was offered an opportunity to attend lifeguard training at Huntington Beach, California, and soon become a certified California State Lifeguard, stationed at San Clemente, Orange Coast District.

Once I started college in 1994 and learned that I could study abroad in wave-rich countries like South Africa, Spain, and Taiwan, the idea of combining work, study and other life pursuits with surfing opened up a world of possibilities.

In 1998, after good day of surfing in Tel-Aviv, Israel, I made the decision to return home to Hawaii and start a surfing school. Based on my experience in lifeguarding, I named the school "Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors" (HLSI), and set up shop at a beach house near Kahaluu Beach Park in Kailua-Kona (see photos below).

Water Safety and Lifeguarding in Hawaii | Click to learn more...

Kahalu'u Beach Park in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | Click to Water Safety page...

Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors | Surf Lessons Hawaii

Over the next 5 years, I earned a living teaching others how to surf, and met a variety of interesting people, including international celebrities, movie stars and astronauts from NASA.

The surf school was an instant success. Everyone wanted a piece of the action. Before long every major hotel in the area was calling me to book lessons for their guests, and I had contacts up and down the coast. My friends and I had people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and abilities.

Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors (HLSI) beach house at Kahaluu Beach Park in Kailua-Kona, Big Island of Hawaii

Most kids wanted to surf when they came to Hawaii, and most parents didn’t really know much about surfing and were terribly worried at the idea of it. So HLSI was there to provide a short, safe, surfing experience, and everyone got what they wanted.

Before long the school started to attract celebrities. Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston were at the house, Steven Seagal's kids with his ex-wife, actress Kelly LeBrock, Jeff Bridges with his three daughters. We treated the stars like family, barbecuing on the beach or taking them to local restaurants to eat after the day’s surfing. They loved it, and so did we.

The Space Ambassadors | Surfing with NASA Astronauts  

Surf Lessons Hawaii | Commander Scott Horowitz (lower right) and Mission Specialist Pat Forrester (lower center) and the STS-105 Crew

One morning after a volunteer project at Kahaluu Beach Park in Kona, Hawaii, I met Scott Horowitz, four-time commander of the Space Shuttle.

Scott had just a few minutes to learn to surf, and so I geared him up, and we hit the water. Scott was a surf instructor's dream, naturally enough. As an astronaut, he had been selected for both physical strength and learning ability – so he was very close to the perfect student.

With Astronaut Scott Horowitz | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

After his first wave, Scott exclaimed, "Surfing is out of this world!"

One thing led to another and over the next year I found myself imagining the entire shuttle crew to coming to the Big Island of Hawaii to surf and appear at local schools.

The next year Scott and fellow astronaut Pat Forrester came to Hawaii, officially representing the NASA Space Program, and appearing at schools across the island and catching a few waves.

I wrote a short article named, "The Space Ambassadors" to share the experience in the Kona Views Magazine.

NASA Astronaut Appearance Video | Shown to Big Island students during the Hawaii tour

Astronaut Scott Horowitz | Big Island of Hawaii students

Scott Horowitz | Big Island students in Kailua-Kona

Mission Specialist Pat Forrester | Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA)

Astronaut Scott Horowitz | Learning to surf in Kailua-Kona

Surf Resource Sustainability and Conservation

When it was time to start Graduate school and do my PhD, once again I found that surfing was my ticket to combining work, education and lifestyle. I wrote my MBA thesis on surf tourism in Thailand.

The more I traveled, surfed, and learned about the environmental issues at surf sites and other coastal areas, the more I was moved to study the social, economic and environmental significance of surfing.

After my MBA, I chose to do a Ph.D. in Environmental Management, dedicating three years of my life to researching surf site sustainability and developing the Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI).

Currently, I am still surfing and sharing the surfing stoke with my students in Environmental Studies at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand.

Surf Tourism Research | Click to learn more...

The surfer-researcher lifestyle was featured in Japan's Nalu Magazine | 2008 article by Riku Emoto | Click to view...

International Journal Papers and Chapters

Visit my Surf Tourism Research page for a complete list of publications on surf site sustainability and conservation, including international peer-reviewed journal papers, book chapters, and popular magazine articles.

Selected highlights and links below:

Conducting research on "Surf Resource System Boundaries" in Thailand | Click University News Page...

I hope you enjoy my photos and the information in the links provided.

If you feel motivated to learn more about these or other surfing experiences, or would like to arrange for me to give a public talk, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Surfing Munich

Surfing Munich

Surfing the Eisbach River Wave in downtown Munich, Germany (Surfen an der Eisbach Welle München Deutschland)

The Eisbach River Wave (Eisbachwelle), Munich, Germany, is one of the best and most consistent city-center river surfing spots in the world.

Surfing the Eisbach River Wave in downtown Munich, Germany

A meter-tall standing wave is created by a man-made stone step in the Eisbach Channel, just before it flows into the Isar River in the English Garden Park (Englischer Garten) in downtown Munich.

Location of the Eisbach River Wave in Downtown Munich | Click to enlarge

Surfers began to ride the Eisbachwelle in the 1970s, and used submerged wooden planks to improve the height and shape of the wave.

German surfer riding the Eisbach River Wave

Following several minor accidents, the local authorities came up with a plan to destroy the Eisbachwelle, but local and international surfers responded with a public campaign and online petition to "save the wave".

As a result, the Eisbachwelle is now legally protected as a cultural resource, and surfing is officially permitted at the site.

June 29, 2019 | A good day at the Eisbach River Wave

A sign helpfully reminds visitors that "Due to the forceful current, the wave is suitable for skilled and experienced surfers only."

German surfers wait for a wave | Eisbach River wave

German surfer | Eisbach River Wave

Around Bavaria

A few photos from the spring of 2019

Traveling through Bavaria | Surfing Munich Learning Adventure

Neuschwanstein Castle | Commissioned by Bavarian King Ludwig II in 1869

Jantanee at Neuschwanstein | Bavaria, Germany

Around Munich

Marienplatz | Munich Germany

Springtime on Kaufinger walking street, Munich

Jantanee Martin at Marienplatz

Thank you for visiting our Surfing Munich Learning Adventure page.

We hope you enjoy the photos, videos, and the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to learn more about surf tourism, other Learning Adventures, or would like to arrange for me to give a public talk, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin, PhD Environmental Management

Thanks for visiting 'Surfing Munich' and a warm 'guten tag' from Nymphenburg Baroque Palace, western Munich

Surfing Thailand

Surfing Thailand


Steven A. Martin, Ph.D. Environmental Management

Assistant Professor of Asian Studies in Sociology and Anthropology

A Learning Adventure for Students of 814-113 Thai Geography and 805-282 Environmental Studies

Click on images and photos to enlarge.

The Andaman Sea

The Andaman Sea is a salad bowl of high-salinity water topped with waves of mixed types and sources, outlined by an unpredictable volcanic ridge, and characterized by mysteriously deep ocean upwellings and currents, internal waves, and a stealthy world-leader in cyclogenesis.

In this Learning Adventure, I investigate the Andaman Sea and surfing in Thailand, including bathymetry, tides, wave types and directions, and swell windows.

Bali's Tipi Jabrik | Surfing at Kata Beach, Phuket


In 2006, after seeing the waves in Phuket while on holiday, I wondered if I might be able to live and work on the island.

Prior to visiting Phuket, I had been a post-graduate student in Taiwan, and it had been great; but how about studying in Phuket? After learning about the International MBA program in Hospitality and Tourism Management being offered at the Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus, I decided to apply. The courses started in April 2007, just in time for the surf season on the Andaman Coast.

I packed my bags – and surfboards.

One of 800 hotels on the resort island of Phuket

I soon realized that surf tourism was a new and growing industry in Phuket, and my thesis adviser agreed it was an excellent research topic. Besides, what surfer wouldn't feel great strapping their surfboards on the car and heading to the beach to conduct field research?

I had been a surf tourist in 30 countries and owned a surf school in Hawaii which catered to tourists from all over the world, including celebrities and astronauts from NASA.

Surf travel was in my blood.

Environmental concerns and the protection of surf sites had always been important to me, and my master's thesis progressed into a coastal resource assessment of Phuket surf beaches. I looked at all sorts of issues, including water pollution, marine debris, the tin mining industry, water safety, and much more.

Eventually, my work on the Andaman Coast led to a doctoral scholarship, and in the years following, I developed the Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI), earning me a Ph.D. in Environmental Management.

If you feel motivated to learn more about these topics, please visit my Surf Tourism Research page.

Surfing waves on Thailand's Andaman Coast

The Southwest Monsoon

The Southwest Monsoon is the driving force behind the surf on Thailand's Andaman Coast. The month of May signals the onset of steady westerly/ southwesterly winds, occasionally gusty and accompanied by fast-moving squalls and heavy rain. However, gloomy skies and heavy downpours tend to pass quickly, replaced by pillowy convection-born cumulonimbus clouds, shimmering sunbeams, and consistent head-high surf.

The Southwest Monsoon tapers off during October, giving way to cooler northeasterly winds during November. During this period, lucky locals may experience a few days with off-shore wind pushing up the faces of clean, Indian Ocean groundswells (see sections below on wave types and swell windows).

The Andaman weather wheel, shown here, illustrates from the inner cycle outward: monsoon season, approximate average rainfall in millimeters, wind types and directions, and expected storm activity and skies.

Andaman Coast weather cycle | Steven Martin ©

Typical day at the beach in Phuket during the Southwest Monsoon. Onshore winds and waves with passing heavy showers | Thai Geography

Typical day at the beach in Phuket during the Northeast Monsoon, with light winds and calm seas | Thai Geography

Andaman Surf Meteorology

Surf on the Andaman coast comes from a wide-range of sources and directions, and various wave types are generated by particular sets of weather phenomena. This is to say that depending on how, when, and where waves are generated, those arriving at Thailand’s Andaman coast beaches differ significantly.

Windsea, windswell and groundswell

In this article, three types of waves are discussed in terms of swell period, referring mainly to wave interval, that is, the amount of time it takes for two consecutive wave crests to pass through a determined point. The definitions offered here are slightly adjusted to better understand what we actually see on Thailand's Andaman Coast. Exact definitions can be found across various surf forecasting websites.

  1. Windsea refers to waves breaking very close together, perhaps just 6 to 8 seconds apart.
  2. Windswell refers to mainly to short period swells averaging around 9-12 seconds apart.
  3. Groundswell mainly refers to longer period swells, averaging 14 seconds or more.

In the widest sense, waves are generated at different distances from the coast. Waves resulting from weather patterns occurring near the Andaman Coast generally create a windsea condition. Windsea refers to waves accompanied by the wind which generated them and may look like waves breaking one right after another, resulting in mixed wave heights, a common sight at Phuket Beaches on stormy days.

Once the windsea condition passes, and the wind dies down, a rideable windswell may remain for several hours or several days.

Typical windswell in Phuket during the Southwest Monsoon (May to October)

In contrast, groundswells generated by weather systems in the Indian Ocean may travel great distances, pass through the The Great Channel, between Banda Ache and Great Nicobar Island, and provide clean, long-period surfing waves.

If comparing the consistent, almost daily windswell arriving at Thai beaches during the Southwest monsoon, groundswells are characterized as more powerful, offering longer rides, and having more time between waves. While different wave types may be common knowledge among surfers, types of windswells and groundswells vary considerably in Thailand based on a number of factors.

For example, swells with a 15-second or more wave period, generated as far away as Madagascar in the Southern Indian Ocean, as compared to swells with a 10-second wave period generated south of Sri Lanka in the southern Bay of Bengal. Low pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal have potential to push large waves through The Great Channel or Ten Degree Channel (see maps below) with considerable force, creating big surf in Phuket, similar to what one might expect in Indonesia or Hawaii.

Worthy of note, The Great Channel is much wider, deeper, and open to Indian ocean wave activity compared to The Ten Degree Channel.

Typical groundswell in Phuket

The three most obvious sources of ocean swell activity and associated swell directions relative to the Andaman coast of Thailand are as follows:

  • Monsoonal wind flow which propagates southwesterly to westerly windsea and windswell.
  • Groundswell generated in the southern or central Indian Ocean which produces southwesterly swells.
  • Regional cyclonic activity, including tropical depressions, storms, and cyclones, which may propagate a variety of swell types and directions.

Andaman Surf Meteorology | Swell types | Steven Martin ©

Each type of weather phenomena and its associated swell type and direction create various surfing conditions on the Andaman Coast which may range in size and ‘surfability’ from one coastal area to another. Swell direction is highly significant given that the swell window for each province varies considerably.

For example, provinces north of Phuket are open to southerly and southwesterly swell directions, compared to provinces south of Phuket, which are mainly exposed to westerly swell directions or rarely occurring northerly swells resulting from regional cyclonic activity (see Andaman Coast Swell Windows, below).

Classification of Storms in Thai Waters

The classification of weather and large storms varies from country to country around the world. For example, a tropical storm in one country may be considered a tropical depression in another country. Consequently, communication and clarification regarding the exchange of data among various national weather bureaus is of the utmost importance, especially when issuing storm warnings and in terms of public safety awareness.

In Thai waters, the following criteria apply:

  • Tropical depression is categorized as a weather system which produces winds up to 59 km/hr
  • Tropical storm produces winds of 60-119 km/hr
  • Cyclone produces winds of over 119 km/hr

Surfers at Nai Harn Beach, Phuket

Andaman Coast Swell Windows

Primarily a factor of geography, Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands block or shadow the vast majority Indian Ocean swells from reaching Thailand’s Andaman Coast. Consequently, the surf along Thailand’s Andaman Coast is generally much smaller on a given day compared to the South-Western coasts of Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands, Java, Bali, etc., which are highly exposed to the Indian Ocean.

The news isn't all bad, a gap between Banda Aceh and Great Nicobar Island offer a ‘swell window’, an opening through which waves can pass through, such as between islands or around points of land.

In order for Indian Ocean swells to reach Phuket, they must pass through The Great Channel, a swell window limited from roughly 230 degrees west-southwest through 245 degrees west-southwest depending on a given swell direction. Although a narrow window, the Banda Aceh/Nicobar gap allows enough Indian Ocean surf though to provide year-round surprises for local surfers.

As in navigation, wind and wave directions for meteorology and swell directions follow the numbers of the compass (a 360° circle) where 0/360° is North, 90° is East, 180° is South, and 270° is West. Waves traveling from a particular source or direction are labeled as coming from that direction in terms of the compass relative to the point of arrival. This is to say that if Phuket is the arrival point, we can set the center of the compass over Phuket and measure the direction of the incoming swell (see map below).

Andaman Coast groundswell windows and wave refraction | Steven Martin ©

Thailand’s Andaman Coast occasionally receives big surf generated in the northern Indian Ocean and southern Bay of Bengal. Lucky days for surfers are those when the swell direction finds an open window enters the Andaman Sea at full-face value. Such was the case for the July 2008 Kalim Surfing Contest, which saw clean overhead waves on the day of the finals. The unusually big surf came from low pressure system not far from Sri Lanka.

2008 Phuket Surfing Contest

Ocean swells passing through The Great Channel or The Ten Degree Channel 'refract' or bend, thus changing direction upon entering the Andaman Sea and may reach coastal areas north and south of Phuket (see groundswell windows and wave refraction map).

The science of wave refraction also helps to explain why the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, generated on the opposite side of Sumatra from Phuket, was able to bend around Banda Aceh, the western tip of Sumatra, and strike the Malaysian Peninsula. As tsunamis travel at great ocean depths, speeds, and volumes, the rate of refraction is additively great.

Andaman Coast Swell Windows | Steven Martin ©

Andaman Coastal Bathymetry

Bathymetry, or seafloor topography, varies at different latitudes along Thailand’s Andaman Coast and this greatly affects wave speeds and heights. Waves approaching a particular coast from deep water travel faster and carry more energy and power than waves approaching over shallow water, such as when they pass over a continental shelf before reaching the shore.

Notably, the deepest water on Thailand’s Andaman Coast is found near Phuket; hence, Phuket generally has the most powerful waves regardless of the fact that provinces to the north may have a better swell window to the southern Indian Ocean.

Surf beaches and bathymetry | Phuket, Thailand | Steven Martin ©

All six of Thailand's Andaman provinces have a continental shelf. The shelf averages approximately 100 km wide in the north (Ranong Province), narrowing to 25 km in the middle (Phuket Province) and widening to about 130 km in the south (Satun Province).

Andaman coastal seafloor topography | Phang nga, Phuket, and Krabi Provinces | Steven Martin ©


Tides along Thailand’s Andaman Coast are semi-diurnal, meaning there are two high tides and two low tides daily, with spring heights of up to approximately 3.6 meters and neap tides down to approximately .6 meter.

Generally, the maximum tidal amplitude, or the magnitude of change in an oscillating tidal variable, in Phuket is approximately 3 meters; however in some areas of the Andaman Sea, amplitudes can reach as much as 7 meters.

Low tide at Cape Coral | Andaman Coast, Thailand

The few reef breaks along the Andaman Coast are highly ‘tide dependent’ in terms of surfing. For example, these areas may become exposed reefs on low tide and have rideable waves on medium to high tides.

Conversely, waves at many beach breaks become too thick and slow on high tides, and are often better surfed on incoming or medium tides.

Exceptions to the rules occur when the waves are big – when indeed, anything goes!

Mysterious Andaman Sea

Seafloor topography

The average depth the Andaman Sea is approximately 1,000 meters (3,200 ft), while the western and central areas are particularly deep at 900 to 3,000 meters (3,000–10,000 ft). The northern parts are much shallower due to the silt deposited by the Irrawaddy River, as are the coastal areas of Myanmar and Thailand due the continental shelf.


At an average salinity of 32 parts per thousand, the Andaman Sea is especially salty. Due to the fresh water entering the sea from the Irrawaddy River in the extreme north of the sea, slightly higher salinity occurs in southern areas near Thailand. The influx of cool, fresh water is a contributing factor to the development of low pressure systems and cyclones in the region (see cyclogenesis below).


Along with the Nicobar island chain, The Andaman Islands form a natural back-arc basin which defines the Andaman Sea. The western area of the sea is dynamic with seismic activity along a zig-zag north-south line where the seabed demarks the boundary between the Burma plate and the Sunda Plate.

As a result of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the sea floor was uplifted by several meters in some areas. This area is home to the only active volcano connected with the Indian subcontinent.

Deep sea currents

Deep sea currents in the Andaman change considerably with the monsoon seasons from south-easterly and easterly during winter months (December to March), and south-westerly and westerly during summer months (June to September). The changes in currents affect sea temperatures and salinity in various parts of the sea.

Internal waves

Peculiar to the Andaman Sea is the occurrence of ‘internal waves’, which are essentially underwater waves which can travel across the sea and sometimes surface to form the mysterious ripples recorded by early seafarers in the region. Caused by the mixing of different water temperatures and densities in relation with deep-sea currents, internal waves are comparable to oil and vinegar in a jar: when lightly shaken, a sub-surface wave forms where the different fluid densities meet.


Cyclogenesis is the birth of large spinning storms, a low-pressure weather phenomenon particularly dynamic to the Andaman Sea. (Kumar et al, 2008) Although cyclones are normally associated with a weather phenomena related to the equator, the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea are potentially energetic for the development of strong cyclonic storms and account for about seven percent of the total number of cyclones in the world annually (Mohanty et al., 1994).

In teaching Thai Geography for nearly a decade, I find that this topic, that is, giant storms often generated just northwest of Thailand's Andaman Coast, is rarely ever mentioned, save for my classroom discussions. With some of the largest and most destructive storms in the world are generated near Phuket, why aren't Phuketians aware?

In my experience, the reason is that these weather systems are not on most citizen's radar is that as they form, they actually draw the clouds and moisture away from Phuket, pulling them anti-clockwise into the center of the storm. Thus, as Andaman cyclones form, Phuket tends to have spectacularly clear weather. While this is certainly not always the case, according to historical records dating back to 1000 AD, not a single Andaman-born cyclone has moved towards Phuket. Rather these storms characteristically track in a west-northwesterly direction toward the Andaman Islands, making landfall in India, Bangladesh or Myanmar.

Exemptions to the rule include Pacific-born hurricanes that cross the Malaysian Peninsula and enter the Andaman Sea, such as Harriet in 1962, the deadliest tropical cyclone in Thai history, responsible for nearly 1,000 deaths.

Worthy of mention, cyclones born in the Andaman Sea have long lifespans and are among the most devastating in history (Pentakota et al., 2018). For example, Cyclone Nagris which hit Myanmar on May 2, 2008.

Thai surfers – watch for rare, yet epic, cyclone-generated north-westerly swells hitting southerly provinces either early or late in the surf season!

Thank you for visiting my Surfing Thailand page.

I hope you enjoy my photos and the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to travel to the Thailand, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Online resources by author

If you're interested to learn more about my MA or PhD theses, or other academic publications, please visit my surf tourism research page.

Typical small, fun surfing conditions in Phuket

Monsoon Boogie Phuket | June 1, 2022

Taiwan Studies

Taiwan Studies


Going to work on my thesis in Laipunuk, Taiwan | Nei Ben Lu 內本鹿


In 2003, I studied at Minghsin University of Science and Technology (MUST), and at the National Chengchi University (NCCU) Mandarin Language Center in Taipei, Taiwan. Soon after, I applied to study a Master's degree at the graduate school at NCCU. I also applied for, and received, a Taiwan Scholarship which helped me fund my course in Taiwan Studies.

The next four years of my life alternated between the classroom in Taipei and the remote mountains of southern Taiwan. I spent most of my life savings on travel, camera gear and mountaineering equipment.

My studies led me to a high-mountain watershed named in Chinese Nei Ben Lu (內本鹿), or Laipunuk in the local Bunun language. The Bunun, one of Taiwan's 16 ethnolinguistic groups, had moved to remote Laipunuk to hide from the Japanese army which had taken control of the island and the indigenous peoples beginning after the1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki.

Bunun rebels (front row) after their capture by the Japanese Police during the 1941 "Laipunuk Incident" which led to their forced removal from the mountains.

The story behind this rare photo of 'Haisul' (center) and other Bunun warriors has recently been published in Journal of Nationalism and Ethnic Politics: "The Last Refuge and Forced Migration of a Taiwanese Indigenous People During the Japanese Colonization of Taiwan – An Ethnohistory"; and featured on my 'Laipunuk Incident' webpage.

Laipunuk 內本鹿

Laipunuk, in the southern mountain highlands, was the last refuge of the Bunun, remaining unconquered by the Japanese until just before the end of WWII. It remained the only unmapped location in all of Taiwan. Bunun youth at that time grew up with traditional culture – until the arrival of the Japanese field police.

A few of these children survived, and at the time of my graduate research, they ranged in age from 70 to 90 years old. I found that they were eager to share their personal experiences and unique culture.

Below, is the map I developed for publication marking the location of Laipunuk.

Location and geography of Laipunuk 內本鹿 Taiwan © Steven Martin

If you find this topic interesting, watch the video playlist below and continue reading to learn more about this unforgettable topic.

Taiwan Studies Playlist | YouTube | 12 Videos

Graduate Studies at National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan

The Laipunuk project formed part of my post-graduate studies and ultimately my MA thesis at NCCU, and in 2006, I received my Master's Degree in Taiwan Studies. If your interested in studying in this program, follow the links here for the International Master's Program in Asia-Pacific Studies (IMAS).

2006 | Receiving my Master of Arts diploma from the president of National Chengchi University, Taiwan, ROC

Tommie Williamson

Within a few months of starting my graduate program at National Chengchi University, I was lucky enough to meet filmmaker Tommie Williamson. He was the key person who invited me to Taitung on the southeastern coast of the island and opened the door to the Laipunuk oral history project.

Tommie provided me with technical support, office space, and lodging at the Bunun Cultural and Educational Foundation (Bunun Village).

American Filmmaker Tommie Williamson (1955-2017) | Bunun Village

Austronesian Taiwan | The Big Picture

Having lived on the Big Island of Hawaii for twenty-five years, I immediately felt a personal connection to Taiwan and the native culture, naming it the other Big Island. The two islands share the ancient and mysterious Pacific Ocean legacy of Austronesian-speaking peoples.

Little did I know when I first came to study in Taiwan, but the island was the source of the centuries-long process of the peopling of the Pacific, the so-called “Pacific Rainbow” that maps the migration of peoples, materials and languages across the islands of the Pacific, from Taiwan all the way across to Hawaii (see Figure 1 below, Distribution of the Austronesian Language Family, ECAI Pacific Language Mapping).

Distribution of the Austronesian Language Family and Major Subgroupings | ECAI Pacific Language Mapping

Neolithic Austronesian Prehistory | Stone Pillars of the Peinan Culture | c. 3000 BP

My Master's Thesis

My Master's thesis focused on the last living members of the Istanda family, elderly Bunun who were born in or near Laipunuk.

The research was made possible through my Taiwan Scholarship and friends like Nabu Istanda at the Bunun Cultural and Educational Foundation (BCEF), Taiwan's first charitable body created by indigenous people, for indigenous people.

Developed by Pastor Pai Kwang Sheng in 1995 based on his vision to build the Bunun Village, BCEF is managed by Laipunuk descendants and their families.

Nabu Istanda (left) interviews his uncle (right) about his experience in Laipunuk | Bunun Village | Taitung, Taiwan

My research was ethnohistorical in practice, that is, recording oral history and comparing it with existing written documents. In order to do this, I lived with the Bunun tribespeople for four years, recording their ways of life, their music, their traditions and their histories.

Tama Biung Istanda 1917–2007 | Bunun Elder from Laipunuk 內本鹿 Taiwan

Tama Biung's story has recently been published in the Sage Journal of Ethnography: "A Taiwan knowledge keeper of indigenous Bunun – An ethnographic historical narrative of Laipunuk (內本鹿), southern mountain range"; and featured on my Tama Biung ethnography webpage

Significant challenges to the ethnohistorical approach included my limited language skills, and although I understood basic Chinese, the Laipunuk elders mainly spoke Bunun and Japanese, and historical documents were for the most part in the Japanese script of that era.

With the support of the Bunun Village, Tommie Williamson, and my translator and guide, Nabu Istanda, I was able to develop my skills in ethnographic filmmaking and face the challenges of translating these heart-felt stories of the Bunun and their mountain home.

I was also invited by Nabu to participate in several mountaineering expeditions in order to see Laipunuk for myself (see photos, videos, and the links provided). I quickly learned the trekking to Laipunuk was serious business, akin to mountain climbing without the safety of climbing ropes -- the most dangerous adventures of my life!

Nabu Istanda and Viliang | 2006 Laipunuk Expedition 內本鹿

For four years, I lived with and listened to, the Bunun people. I recorded films of the tribal elders sharing oral histories of events such as the arrival of Japanese forces in Laipunuk, the last region of Taiwan to be officially subjugated, a forced and tearful resettlement of the Bunun in 1941 from their high mountain homes to the malaria-infested lowlands near Taitung on Taiwan's east coast.

Their story was as fascinating as it was tragic. Once I got to know this family, including Tama Biung Istanda (pictured above), one of the last living Bunun with personal knowledge in old Laipunuk, I found myself deeply involved in the project of recording and translating their stories.

I fulfilled the commitment I made to share their stories with future generations.

2006 Laipunuk 內本鹿 Expedition across Taiwan's Central Range

Bunun youth program at Laipunuk 內本鹿 Nabu Istanda center with yellow bandana

Rare photo of a young Bunun leader in Laipunuk

Research note: Supporting this work, I was able to locate this rare photo of a young Bunun leader (center) in Laipunuk, apparently cloaked in Leopard skin and adorned with Paiwan (one of the 16 Taiwanese indigenous peoples) style headdress adorned with boar teeth. The photo attests to the eclectic nature of the Bunun who adopted cultural traditions for other tribes, likely through trade and the practice of marriage exchange, and was likely taken in the early-mid 1900s.

Bunun Chief in Laipunuk, Taiwan | Photo by Sagawa (Japanese Researcher) (n.d.)

According to Nabu Istanda: “Bunun normally don’t wear Leopard skin cloaks; only Rukai, Paiwan, and Puyuma nobles may wear this; nor was it common to wear headwear decorated with wild boar teeth like those of the Rukai or Paiwan; normally the Bunun only have one knife, yet the man pictured two knives like that of the Rukai and Paiwan; also the Laipunuk Bunun had brass bracelets and armbands, which likely came from Paiwan or Chinese; it may show good relations” (Istanda, N. 2006 interview).

The Last Refuge of an Indigenous People

In my research, I refer to Laipunuk as the last refuge of the Bunun. Their history is that of a marginalized people who experienced rapid and forced integration into a dominant foreign culture – spelling the end of the life the Bunun and neighboring tribal peoples had known for centuries.

Nevertheless, the remoteness of the region, coupled with the relatively late arrival of Japanese forces compared to the rest of Taiwan, afforded the Bunun children of the 1930s a traditional indigenous way of life. The boys learned hunting skills from their fathers, and the girls learned weaving and food-gathering from their mothers.

They are the last of their kind, and it is an immense privilege to have the opportunity to document their stories.

– Steven Martin

2006 Expedition team posing in front of a Taiwan yellow cypress | From left, Nabu, Haisul, Viliang, Steven, Biung | Photo 石头 Shítou


Faculty of International Studies Press Releases

20th Anniversary of Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

In 2014, Dr. Steven Martin was invited to Taipei to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines in cooperation with Academia Sinica, the foremost research institute in Taiwan, ROC. The Museum offered Steven a place in their upcoming publication, a book to commemorate their 20th anniversary: Religion, Law and State: Cultural Re-invigoration in the New Age. After three years of communication and collaboration, the Museum’s book has been published and is now available to English and Chinese readers.

Opening Ceremony of the 2014 International Conference on Formosan Indigenous Peoples | Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

Papers and Presentations

Thank you for visiting my Taiwan Learning Adventure page.

I hope you enjoy the photos, videos, and the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to learn more about my Taiwan Research, or other Learning Adventures, or would like to arrange for me to give a public talk, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Cornerstone webpages, photos, and videos


Bunun Music Download | Taiwan pop star 'Buing' (wma files)

At the request of Nabu Istanda, Bunun pop star 'Biung' composed the modern jam 'Laipunuk Song' to represent the dynamic sense and danger of going to the mountains.

Taiwan Photo Journal - Laipunuk - Steven Andrew Martin

Laipunuk 內本鹿 2006

Water Safety

Water Safety



At 15 years old, arriving in Hawaii for the first time, I was captivated by the Pacific – and the ocean became my life-long teacher. The surfing lifestyle led me to health, nature, and freedom.

Surfing was what I loved to do, and over time I found myself increasingly "Doing what I love, and loving what I do."

At Waikiki with Lifeguards Hawaii State

My surfing lifestyle led me to train and become qualified as an ocean lifeguard/Water Safety Officer. Later I traveled the world as a surfer, and eventually settled down at a university on a tropical island (Phuket, Thailand), earned a PhD in surf site conservation, and became a professional environmental researcher.

Through my experiences as a water safety professional, I learned important first-responder skills, such as First Aid and CPR. Later, I became an American Red Cross instructor.

Practical Experience and Professional Service

The sport of surfing has inherent risks, and practical experience and an understanding of ocean safety go hand and hand. It is common for surfers seek advanced water safety or lifeguard training, especially if they are thinking of working at the beach. My case was no exception, and now I reflect on forty years of ocean experience in twenty-five countries, including five years' service as a Hawaii County Water Safety Officer, and seasonal service as a California State Park Lifeguard. Although lifeguarding was not my only career, it has been a continuous theme in personal and professional life.

In 1987, I was introduced to instructor programs with American Red Cross through a Hawaiian friend at the beach, and this was when I first became a teacher. I continued teaching these courses until 1997. Mainly I taught courses in Advanced Lifesaving, Lifeguarding, First-aid, and CPR.

Phuket Rip Currents Poster | Steven Martin | Prince of Songkla University

Surf experience highlights in my life include participating in amateur surf contests and as an official surf contest judge in Hawaii, North America, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. These and other experiences culminated in the idea to create an international surfing school in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in 1998.

I have saved over 100 lives in ocean rescues, the majority of them being off duty, while surfing or teaching surfing.

Lifeguarding at Kahaluu and White Sands (Magic Sands) Beach Parks in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 1985-1991

The 1980s in Hawaii was a formative period in the development of public water safety services. Many popular beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii, such as White Sands (Magic Sands) Beach in Kailua-Kona, did not have lifeguard stations or towers. The traditional Hawaiian name for the site is La'a Loa.

The photos shared here are from my Surfing Scrapbook.

Lifeguarding White Sands Beach (La'a Loa) | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 1989

Lifeguarding White Sands Beach (La'a Loa) | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 1990

White Sands Point (La'a Loa) | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 2000 | Click to "A Brief History of Surfing"

Kahaluu Beach Park | County of Hawaii

Kuemanu Heiau (surfing shrine) | Kahaluu Beach Park, Big Island of Hawaii | Click enlarge

Students learning to surf at the Kuemanu Heiau surfing shrine at Kahaluu Beach Park

Lifeguarding at Hapuna Beach State Park in South Kohala, Hawaii, with Lifeguards Hawaii State

Hapuna State Beach has a long history of drowning and near-drowning incidents. During the 1970s and 80s, while Hawaii County provided lifeguard services at County beach parks, State beach parks were left unguarded.

Hapuna State Beach was particularly dangerous due to the deep water and north-west exposure, making the beach wide open to large and powerful north-west ocean swells during the winter months.

In 1990, the State opened a contract for private lifeguarding organizations to provide water safety services at Hapuna for the first time. Honolulu-based Lifeguards Hawaii State, owned and operated by John Quincy Adams (aka, JQA), took charge of the lifeguard program for first three years.

Hawaii County Lifeguard tower at Hapuna Beach State Park

Hawaii County lifeguard tower at Hapuna Beach State Park

Following the precedent set in January 1992, when the City and County of Honolulu was elected to place lifeguards at the notoriously dangerous Keawaula Beach on Oahu, an agreement was soon reached on the Big Island between Hawaii County and the State of Hawaii, leading to County lifeguards being stationed at Hapuna State Beach.

I was fortunate enough to be active during this formative period in the Big Island's water safety programs, having worked for the County, as well as Lifeguards Hawaii State.

Winter 1992 | Lifeguarding at Hapuna Beach State Park | Lifeguards Hawaii State

The first lifeguard tower at Hapuna Beach State Park in South Kohala, Hawaii | Lifeguards Hawaii State

California State Park Lifeguarding in San Clemente, Orange Coast State District

Just prior to County guards being officially stationed at Hapuna, I was accepted to the California State Park Lifeguard Training Program at Huntington Beach. Luckily, I survived the rigorous training and testing period at Huntington and got hired as a California State Park Lifeguard in San Clemente, Orange Coast District – a great place to be a surfer-lifeguard!

San Clemente was home to the surf beaks known collectively as "Trestles" at San Onofre State Beach, and being from out of state, I was allowed to camp and use the facilities at Trestles Headquarters (THQ) overlooking the breaks during the summer of 1992.

The surf breaks known collectively as "Trestles" at San Onofre State Beach | Click to enlarge

Surfing and Ocean Safety in Phuket, Thailand

After moving to the resort island of Phuket, Thailand, in 2007, to study for my MBA in Hospitality and Tourism Management, I became interested in ocean safety at local beaches.

During my first week on the island, I made several surf-related rescues at unguarded beaches. That year, during the Southwest Monsoon (May to October), I rescued five tourists in the surf, and decided to conduct water safety research on the island. My study found that surfers were unintentionally acting as surrogate lifeguards at Phuket beaches, assisting tourists and the general public who got into trouble in the surf.

I wrote several articles for a local magazine on related subjects, created the Phuket Ocean Safety Guide, and in April of 2010, the research made the front page of the Phuket Gazette. I also discussed this issue in my Master's thesis, "Coastal resource assessment for surf tourism in Thailand," and on local radio.

Discussing surf and ocean safety on the air in Phuket, Thailand | Click photo to my Master's research

Phuket Ocean Safety Guide | Click to view

Coastal Currents in Phuket | Click to view

Surfer Lifesavers of Phuket | Click to view

Surf's Up, Drownings Down | Click to view

Water Safety and Lifeguarding Experience

1991-2019 Lifeguards Hawaii State

  • Water Safety Consultant

1998-2003 Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors (HLSI)

  • Surfing and Ocean Safety Instructor

1987-1997 American Red Cross, Hawaii Island Chapter

  • Instructor in Lifeguarding, Swimming, First Aid and CPR
  • Water Safety Instructor (WSI)

1991-1992 California State Park Lifeguard

  • State Lifeguard – California Department of Parks and Recreation

1985-1991 County of Hawaii

  • Water Safety Officer (WSO II)

1992-1993 Boy Scouts of America

  • Boy Scout Merit Badge Instructor in First Aid and CPR

1988-1990 Ocean Sports Waikoloa

  • First Aid and CPR Instructor

1987-1997 Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Instructor

  • Swimming, Water Safety and Lifeguard Instructor
  • First Aid and CPR Instructor

1988-1992 Parker High School, Hawaii

  • Swimming Coach, Water Safety and Lifeguard Instructor
  • First Aid and CPR Instructor

Letters of Recommendation

Thank you for visiting my Water Safety and Lifeguarding Page.

I hope you enjoy the photos and the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to learn more about ocean safety, lifeguarding or surf tourism, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin