Koh Larn: Best Beaches & Top Activities at Coral Island Pattaya
The Gulf of Thailand is home to some of the most picturesque islands on earth. Koh Larn (Coral Island) is one of them. Also known as Ko Lan, the island is famous for its white sand beaches and azure water.
Ko Lan is absolutely stunning – so much so that it has even been compared to paradise. However, as you can imagine, when paradise is a small island, only 7 km off the coast of Pattaya, it’s going to get very crowded.
Now that expectations are set, the best way to avoid crowds in Coral Island Pattaya is by managing your trip yourself. If you are part of a tour, you’ll only get to see the most popular beaches. Consider spending one or more nights on Koh Larn Island so that you can enjoy the quiet mornings and evenings. You can also rent a motorbike to explore the less busy parts of the island. If you get lucky, you might even spot a tiny beach with no one on it.
Getting from Pattaya to Coral Island
Speedboat from Pattaya Beach: The quickest way to get to Coral Island is by motorboat. The 15 minute ride costs 300 Baht ($9) each way.
Ferry from Bal Hai Pier (Pattaya Pier): The Bal Hai Pier is at the end of Pattaya’s Walking Street. From there, you can take a ferry to Tawean Beach, the main beach on Koh Larn Island, or to Naban, the main village in Koh Larn. Ferry transfers cost 30 Baht ($1) each way, and the ride takes about 40 minutes. Ferries leave every 1-2 hours so keep track of running schedules.
The Beaches of Koh Larn
Koh Larn has 6 main white sand beaches and a few small ones. All 6 beaches have options for water sports, restaurants serving delicious food, and paid restrooms.
Taxis charge 400 Baht ($12) to drive you to all 6 beaches. Alternatively, you can get on a shared blue shuttle bus (songtaew) leaving for the beach of your choice. You can also rent a motorbike for 300 Baht ($9) a day, and explore the island as you please.
Tawean Beach is the busiest beach of Koh Larn. This 700 meter beach gets up to 5000 visitors a day, and is even busier on weekends. It has a few resorts and over 25 restaurants, serving just about all cuisines. If you don’t mind crowds, Tawean Beach is best for water sports, dining, and shopping.
Samae Beach is the second biggest beach on the island. This beach has good spots for swimming, many options for water sports, good resorts, and delicious seafood. Xandu Beach Resort near Samae Beach offers one of the best value for money accommodations on the island.
Tien Beach is the most picturesque beach on Coral Island. If your main reason for visiting Koh Larn is to sun bathe on a beautiful beach and do water sports, Tien beach is your best option. It has limited accommodation options so book in advance if you plan to stay here.
Naul Beach (Monkey Beach)
Also known as ‘Monkey Beach’ because of monkeys that inhabit the nearby hills, Naul Beach has a relaxed feel to it. You’ll only find huts on the beach (no permanent structures), which is a welcome change from other Koh Larn beaches.
Although Tonglang Beach is not the best for swimming, it has a cosy feel to it. This beach is difficult to access – you’ll have to hike to this beach via a steep rocky path or get here by boat. There are good hiking options in this area.
The smallest and least busy of the 6 beaches is Tayaiy beach. This quiet beach has only one restaurant, and is a great place to come to and relax. A few water sport options are available here as well.
Things to do in Koh Larn
Swimming in the crystal clear water of Thailand’s beaches is great fun. All 6 Koh Larn beaches are excellent for swimming. Remember to be cautious though – at least one beach suddenly gets deep. (Can’t recall the name of the beach, but I remember being caught in an undertow and being pulled towards the ocean. A few minutes of pure horror followed when I realised that my feet were nowhere near the ocean bed).
Exploring Coral Island
Coral Island is only 4.5 km by 2 km. It’s possible to explore most of the island on foot. The island’s tropical vegetation is unique and hiking can be great fun.
You can also rent a motorbike or scooter and drive around Coral Island. (Make sure you have some experience riding a motorbike though – the island’s roads are steep and narrow).
Besides driving to the beaches, you can enjoy panoramic views from the island’s view points, see the Giant Monk Statue, and explore local markets.
(You can rent a bicycle as well, but because most of Coral Island is quite hilly, riding a bicycle can become a challenge).
The beaches of Koh Larn offer a variety of water sports. Banana boat riding, jet skiing, kite surfing, snorkelling, underwater walking, and scuba diving are some of the popular activities here.
(Inspect jet skis and motorboats before hiring them. When you return from your ride, you could be told that you damaged them and need to pay for their repair).
Enjoy freshly caught seafood
Koh Larn is heaven for seafood lovers. You’ll find many restaurants serving ‘catch of the day’ along most beaches. The seafood here is super fresh and absolutely delicious, but slightly expensive compared to the rest of Thailand. If you are on a budget, the restaurants near the pier are more reasonably priced.
Koh Larn Hotels
Though most people explore Koh Larn over a day trip, it’s best to spend one or two nights on the island. This way you’ll have time to explore more than just the main beaches. You can also enjoy the quieter and cooler mornings and evenings. (Coral Island Pattaya gets very busy from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm – that’s when most tours operate).
If you decide to stay, it’s a good idea to book accommodation in advance. Here are some popular hotels.
Coral Island is the best destination near Pattaya to get a flavour of Thailand’s pristine beaches. It’s an excellent place to come to relax and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
If you are in Bangkok and only have a day to spare for Koh Larn, this day trip to Coral Island is worth considering.
Here are more popular things to do in and near Pattaya: