Coral Island, as Koh Larn is called in the tour brochures, is an idyllic spot just 7.5 kilometres from Pattaya beach.
Coral island has long been known as a prefect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Pattaya. It is a relatively undeveloped island with just a handful of resorts; several laid back beaches and an ever increasing number of great seafood restaurants. The lush green hills in the interior of the island can be explored on foot, scooter or bicycle along narrow roads and paths.
But best of all, unlike Pattaya beach, you will be able to swim in clear, clean blue seas and your eyes won’t be assaulted by concrete high rise blocks wherever you go.
It is possible to stay overnight on the island, but the vast majority of visitors will take a day trip to the island. This is an ideal way to see the island as you can take a boat in the morning, spend a few hours on Coral Island and then return late afternoon.
A guided tour is the most common way of doing this. There are some examples of Coral island day tour itineraries below. The tours are great if you want to spend the day doing activities such at parasailing, banana boat rides, sea walking and jetski riding. It’s much better value to do these activities as part of a tour than pay for them individually.
However, it is possible to spend a day chilling on Koh Lan, away from the Coral Island tour groups. You’ll be able to get away from the package tourists and the busiest beaches where the boats moor, and discover all the island has to offer. Enjoying panoramic views, discovering quiet beaches and eating in smaller locally owned restaurants. Personally, I feel it is more rewarding to do the trip independently.
Day Tours from Pattaya to Coral Island
There are numerous day trips and tours run by companies based in Pattaya. In general two types of Coral Island tour are provided. Visitors can choose a simple tour, with just transport and lunch provided. Or a fun filled day trip which includes two, three or four different activities. The great thing about this is that you can tailor the tour to suit your requirements and budget.
Choose to enjoy a day of leisure on the beach. Or get on, under and above the water for some fun.
The tour to Coral Island will begin with you being picked up from your hotel and taken to Pattaya beach. The speedboat will leave from the beach around 08:00 – 09:00 and go directly to the island. It is just a short 20 minute trip.
You’ll be taken to one of the main beaches on the island. Tawaen beach is the largest and busiest beach. You’ll have already decided how you want to spend your day. For some it will be taking a swim, supping on an ice cold coconut and generally watching the world go by. For others it will be on one or more of the activities on offer. Lunch, which is included in the tour price, will be at one of the beach restaurants.
For the return trip, you’ll be picked up around 15:00 – 16:00 and taken back to Pattaya beach. From there transport will be provided to your hotel.
Coral Island Tour Program and Prices
As mentioned above, the trips offer a lot of flexibility regarding activities. You’ll see that I’m not linking to any recommended trips or tours to Coral Island. This is because there are so many to choose from and all offer pretty much the same thing for the same price. This is an example of a typical tour and pricing.
Coral Island Tour itinerary includes:
Price per person
|Round trip hotel transport|
Round trip speedboat to Coral island
|+ Glass Bottomed boat trip||1,000 Baht|
|+ Parasailing||1,400 Baht|
|+ Sea bed walking (5 metres down)||1,600 Baht|
|+ Parasailing, Banana Boat, Jetski||1,700 Baht|
|+ Sea bed walking, Banana boat, Jetski||1,800 Baht|
|+ Parasailing, Sea bed Walking, Banana boat, Jetski||2,200 Baht|
|+ Parasailing, Sea bed Walking, Banana boat, Glass Bottomed boat trip||2,200 Baht|
|+ Parasailing, Sea bed Walking, Banana boat, Glass Bottomed boat trip, Jetski||2,500 Baht|
Day trips are also run to accommodate specific requirements. For example, some focus on tours for Indian, Russian or Chinese visitors. And so these trips will include the services of a guide that speaks Hindi, Russian or Mandarin Chinese.
Lunch will also be tailored to certain dietary requirements. For example, Indian visitors often prefer an Indian style lunch rather than regular Thai food.
Where to Book a Coral Island Tour?
Visitors to Pattaya who are on a package tour will have a trip to Coral Island included in the itinerary already. It will probably include a couple of activities and you’ll be able to pay more to do others. For independent travelers, it is easy to make plans a couple of days in advance. There’s no need to arrange all your activities and excursions months before you set off on vacation.
If you prefer to book trips in person, then you’ll find a multitude of tour agents booths within 100 metres of your hotel in Pattaya. All offer the same trips and tours. Prices are often negotiable, especially if you are booking for a family or a group of friends. And a good agent knows that if you book one trip with them and get a good price then you’ll probably book more.
Nowadays more people opt to book direct with the tour company online. Klook.com is probably the best known site for arranging everything from transport to trips and tours, to theatre tickets and afternoon teas. There’s a whole host of possibilities which can easily be booked online using your phone from anywhere in the world.
( I live in Thailand and have a Thai partner. Many attractions often have a Thai price which they advertise on their Facebook page and in Thai language. But we’ve used Klook before to get a great deal on tickets for a couple of water parks near Pattaya. Buying direct was even cheaper than the ‘Thai price’. Plus there weren’t any restrictions on which nationalities could buy them. Which was great to see. )
Self Guided Trip to Koh Larn
If you’re still with me then here’s where you’ll learn a bit more about the island. This section is for folks who prefer to make their own arrangements and not be part of a tour group. Sure, it may be a bit more hassle at times, but you’ll be rewarded by sights and experiences that tour groups don’t offer.
I’ll go through how to get to Koh Larn, the best beaches and where to stay – assuming you want a night on the island.
You’ll also notice that I’m now referring to Koh Larn by it’s correct, real name. ‘Coral Island’ is a name straight out of a tour brochure. None of the locals call it that. Ask any Thai where Coral Island is and you’ll get a blank stare.
Is Koh Larn Expensive?
No. In fact you could have a great time and spend the night there for less than the price of a day tour.
A two day / one night trip for a couple can work out from as little as 1,000 Baht per person (2,000 Baht total). But expect to spend more if you want to enjoy some seafood and a few beers or cocktails on the beach.
Return ferry = 60 Baht x 2 = 120 Baht
Scooter hire (24 hours) & gasoline = 350 Baht
Accommodation = 1,000 Baht
Food & drink = 500 Baht
Boats to Koh Larn
Getting to Koh Larn is easy by either shared speedboat or wooden passenger ferry. Both leave from Bali Hai pier at the south end of Pattaya beach. If you aren’t staying within walking distance of the pier then you’ll have to hop on a pick up truck taxi (Baht bus) to get there. They have set routes, so the cheapest way is often to take the baht bus to the northern end of Walking Street and then walk the rest of the way to the pier.
As they guys in this video do . . .
Speedboats to Koh Larn
Speedboats tend not to operate to a fixed timetable. Once the boat is full, it will leave. If you are at Bali Hai pier early morning, say 8 or 9am then you won’t have to wait long for a boat. As this is the peak time for visitors going to the island. The boat operators aren’t hard to find. In fact they will probably find you as they tout for business at the entrance to the pier and along Beach Road.
If you are travelling in a group then it often makes sense to hire a speedboat privately. Prices depend on the size of the boat and number of passengers. It will be a little more than buying individual tickets but not much. Plus you will have the flexibility to choose when you depart from Pattaya and what time you return from Koh Larn. That’s in addition to not worrying about social distancing with other, unknown, passengers.
Speedboat ticket price to Koh Larn: 200 Baht one way & 300 Baht return
Private speedboat to Koh Larn: 2,500 – 3,500 Baht return
Passenger Ferry to Koh Larn
Wooden passenger ferries operate from Bali Hai pier in Pattaya to either Tawaen beach or Naban port on Koh Larn. Boats run regularly from around 07:00 – 18:00. Buy tickets at the booths at the end of the pier where boats are moored.
Timetables can vary depending on the time of year and demand for tickets. The journey takes around 45 minutes. It’s a pleasant trip and there’s plenty of space on the boat to stretch your legs and take some photos etc.
If you are planning to just chill on the beach all day, then you should take a passenger ferry to Tawaen beach. The boats heading here will be moored on the left hand side of the pier. And if you want to start of a trip by seeing the main village on the island and some local life, then take a boat to Naban port. This will be moored on the right hand side of the pier.
However, as getting around the island is easy, my advice would be just to take the first boat that’s leaving.
The main downside, aside from having to make your own way to Bali Hai pier, is that the boats can be packed during High Season, as the tickets are very cheap.
Passenger ferry ticket to Koh Larn: 30 Baht one way. (Yes, that’s around $1. It is great value for money.)
Getting around Koh Larn
Once you have got to Koh Larn, then you have to decide how you want to get around the island. (Assuming you want to do more than just stay in the same area all day.) These are your options:
Walk around the island
It is possible to walk around the island. The distances involved aren’t too great. The island is around 4km long and a maximum of 2km wide. However when you factor in the heat – 30C+, lack of shade and the hills in the interior, perhaps walking is best left for another day. It’s too tough for all but the fittest hill walking enthusiasts.
Rent a bicycle
Unfortunately there aren’t any bike rental shops on Koh Larn. Mainly because it isn’t a popular activity due to the heat and the hills. However, if you are staying overnight some guesthouses do have bicycles for guests to use.
Rent a scooter
This is the ideal option. However, only for people who have ridden a scooter before. As you’ll be expected to pay for any damages. With a scooter and map of the island you can hit all the beaches and viewpoints, discover great little coffee shops and checkout popular seafood restaurants. It’s the perfect way to get around Koh Larn. Figure on 300 Baht / day for scooter hire. All rental shops charge the same. Note that you’ll have to leave an ID card or Passport as a deposit. Rental shops all charge the same.
Motorbike taxi tour
When you arrive on the island you’ll have to run the gauntlet of the motorbike taxi guys. They can take you anywhere on the island. Each has a map with the different locations marked with the price. But note that prices are fixed. There’s no haggling and no point asking a few guys, as they won’t undercut each other.
One dilemma you might have if you haven’t been to the island is knowing which beach you want to go to. In which case, you can ask one of the guys to give you a tour of the island. They’ll drop you off at different beaches, wait so you can have a look around and then once you have seen the island take you back to your preferred beach where you can spend the rest of the day.
A motorbike taxi tour of Koh Larn will set you back 400 Baht per person
Take a Songtaew (pick-up truck taxi)
Songtaews can be found waiting for passengers at the pier in Naban village and also parked on the roads behind all the beach areas. Short trips across the island are from 40 Baht per person.
Koh Larn Beach Guide
The beaches all have sun loungers and beach chairs available for rent. These are 100 Baht /day. Shower and toilet facilities are also available. Expect to pay 10 – 20 Baht for using the toilet and 50 Baht to take a shower and get changed.
Samae is a 500 metre long beach with rough white sand. It’s also one of the most popular on the island. During high season there can be as many as 3,000 people per day on the sand and in the beach restaurants. However, if you avoid the busiest periods then it is an excellent beach to hang out on.
The beach has two distinctive features which are the result of a foray into supplying green energy. The solar paneled ‘ray building’ at the north end of the beach and the wind farm on the hill overlooking the south end of the beach. It’s possible to hike up to the viewpoint at the windfarm and get awesome panoramic views across the beach.
Tien is another lovely beach with fine white sand. It’s quieter than Samae as there’s no road access. Visitors are either dropped off by boat or have to walk about 5 minutes from the main road at the rear of the beach, just north of Samae beach. The walk is on a concrete walkway that runs along the side of the rocky shoreline to the south end of Tien beach. However there are still plenty of shops and restaurants. This is one of the best places to avoid the crowds at busy times of year. And it doesn’t attract the same party loving groups as other beaches, which is good to see. It’s always good to have a variety of beaches on an island that cater to different types of visitors.
I’d definitely make time to stop off here for a swim and a cold drink or lunch if you are touring the island by scooter. And it’s very easy to combine with a visit to Samae beach. The north end of Same is around 10 – 15 minutes walk from the south end of Tien beach.
Tawaen Beach is the longest (700 metres) and easily the busiest on the island. Thanks for the large number of speedboats that moor here daily. Weekends are especially busy as this beach is a popular hangout for Thai visitors. It’s a good spot if you enjoy a fun atmosphere. But not ideal for swimming, as the sea is full of jetskis and speedboats. There’s also a huge variety of restaurants set back from the beach. You’ll find cuisine from countries all over the world, such is Koh Larn’s appeal.
This is connected to Tawaen beach by a 200 metre long concrete walkway. This skirts around a rocky outcrop to link the southern end of Tawaen beach to the northern end of Tonglang beach.
Tonglang is a quieter beach than Tawaen. This is because there’s no road access. The only way in or out is on foot or by boat. So, on the plus side you can find less people here than on Tawaen beach. But the downside is that the beach itself is much narrower. So there’s not much space to play on the sand or sunbathe. Plus the restaurants are packed very closely together.
Nual beach lies at the far southern tip of Koh Larn. This is a peaceful 250 metre long beach and also the least developed on the island. The beach is lined with sunloungers and umbrellas and to the rear are several bars and restaurants. All of which are recent additions. In the past the land behind the beach was cleared, apparently for a new resort, which never got built. And so at present anyone can enjoy this laid back spot.
There is also a small coral reef just offshore, so this is a good spot for a bit of snorkelling too. It rarely gets crowded as the tour boats don’t come here. Another plus are the playful macaques that inhabit the area nearby. You may see them playing in the trees at each end of the beach.
Saving the best until last. Tayai beach is located at the far northern end of the island. It’s a very picturesque, 100 metre long beach with just one place to eat and drink. So, it has the feel of staying at a resort’s private beach. Consequently prices are a bit higher than elsewhere.
It can be reached on scooter or on foot. But the songtaews don’t take people here. Which accounts for the peace and quiet. Snorkelling is also possible around the headlands at the north and south of the beach.
Restaurants on Koh Larn
As already mentioned, there are loads of restaurants lining the beaches on the island. However, if you want to get away from the crowds you will find small, locally owned eateries and foodstalls dotted around the island. These are the type of place where you can grab a bowl of noodles for 40 Baht. Or somtam (papaya salad) and BBQ chicken for under 100 Baht.
There are also several good coffee shops. My favourites are the artsy ‘See You Again Cafe House. A minimalist, stand alone coffee shop near Naban pier. It’s like stepping into a fantasy 2D comic book. Very cool decor. And the coffee is great too. Just south of then pier, by the sea, is the small Fat Submarine Cafe . A great place to sit and wait for your boat to arrive. Excellent home made cakes and some simply Thai and western meals too.
As far as seafood goes, it’s hard to have a bad meal on Koh Larn. There are lots of seafood restaurants and prices are very similar. We usually go to Koh Larn Seafood, which is 200 metres walk north of Naban pier. They don’t advertise much and aren’t located by the main tourist beaches. So they get more locals and Thai diners. it’s not the cheapest seafood on the island. But it is delicious and that’s what counts. Well worth trying for lunch or an evening meal if you are staying on the island.
Where to Stay on Koh Larn
There are now over 70 places to stay on Koh Larn. However, most accommodation is in guesthouses and resorts. Many of which are owned by local families. There aren’t any of the large hotels that you find in Pattaya here. Developing the land by the beaches is no longer permitted. So virtually all accommodation in the area near Naban pier.
Staying the night on Koh Larn is the ideal way to experience the island. Regardless of what time of year you go, you’ll find that once the day trippers have gone home, the island is a peaceful haven. Most tour groups will arrive around 9- 10am and leave mid to late afternoon 3 – 4pm. So before and after those hours are great times to go swimming and snorkeling, away from the crowds.
Developing the land by the beaches is no longer permitted. So virtually all accommodation in the area near Naban pier.
You’ll also be able to easily grab yourself a spot at a beach bar to enjoy the sunset. And in the evening people staying on the island can hang out at a few small bars around the island. Where there’s a friendly mix of locals and tourists. There’s none of the wild nightlife, bars and clubs you associate with Pattaya on Koh Larn
Recommended resorts and guesthouses
If you want to stay beachfront . . .
The best option for anyone looking to stay by the beach on Koh Larn has to be Xanadu Beach Resort on Samae beach. It’s the only place to stay on the beach so in the evening and early morning guests have the long sandy beach pretty much to themselves. Rooms here are from under 2,000 Baht/night including breakfast.
If you are travelling with a large group of friends . . .
Chill Lay House is a spacious, 4 bedroom house in Naban village. It can sleep up to 15 people and comes with a huge covered deck and outdoor kitchen area. Making it ideal for a couple of families travelling together or large group of friends. There’s plenty of space to relax and the pier, local shops and restaurants are all within walking distance. From around 3,500 Baht/night.
If you want to be in the hills away from the crowds . . .
Blue Sky Resort is a small bungalow resort located in the centre of the island. Views are of the nearby hills. However, it’s only 10 minutes walk into Naban village. It’s a good spot to base yourself and great value for money at under 1,000 Baht/night including breakfast.
If you’re on a tight budget . . .
There aren’t really any dirt cheap backpacker places on Koh Larn. As the island doesn’t attract that type of visitor. For a simple, clean air-conditioned room right by the sea try Island Inn. 5 minutes south of Naban pier.
This is located right by the sea (you can fish off your balcony) and is friendly and well run. Prices from around 700 Baht/night including breakfast. trhe downside is that it’s very dated and could do with refurbishing. But at present, it’s the best choice for someone with limited funds.
I hope you have found this guide useful. Needless to say Koh Larn isn’t the perfect tropical island. But if you’re in Pattaya and looking for a great day out or want to experience a night away from the madness and bright lights, then Koh Larn is definitely worth checking out.