Most visitors to Pattaya opt to hop across and spend time on Ko Lan, a small Thai island just 7km off the coast in the Gulf of Thailand. Ko Lan is home to beautiful beaches set against a backdrop of heavily forested hills and has a network of narrow roads that connect its villages, jetties and shorelines. Also known as Coral Island, Ko Lan measures just four kilometers long and two kilometers wide.
Restaurants and small stores service the various beaches and the island is close enough to Pattaya to be enjoyed as a day trip. Beach chairs are available for rent and there are plenty of activities on offer. Besides swimming, sun tanning and relaxing on the beach, visitors can ride a jet ski, go snorkeling or kayaking or even hike in the islands interior. There are hotels and bungalows at several of the beaches should you want to linger longer.
Ko Lan’s best beaches are found on the West side of the island. There are four main beaches and a few that are lesser known and quieter. The least visited beaches are the ones to look out for. Tawaen Beach and Samae Beach are among the best known on the island and there are several resorts here catering to tourists.
Coral Beach, Ko Lan’s namesake is all about calm azure blue sea and has a long stretches of pristine undeveloped coastline offering a little piece of paradise and perfect retreat from the crowds.
Slightly shorter than Samae and Tawaen, Tien beach has a beautiful stretch of white sand, clear blue waters and is lined with palm trees. Tien is one of the quieter and most romantic beaches on the island. A secluded spot it offers a peaceful tropical atmosphere and shelters one of the best snorkeling spots on the island with coral and marine life congregating just off shore.
For the best views of Ko Lan, head to Khao Nom viewpoint near Samae beach, which offers great views of the island’s forested hilly interior, Samae beach, the ocean and several small islands in the Gulf of Thailand. If the weather is clear, you can even see as far as Pattaya.
Other activities such as parasailing from a floating jetty halfway between Pattaya and Koh Larn will appeal to the adrenalin seeker. A speedboat will pull the parachute into the air give you a thrilling ride high above the waters. Underwater sea walking plunges you into the blue waters of Ko Lan to explore the seabed and discover the varied marine life off the island. Scuba diving and snorkeling is also on offer.
All these activities are hungry work and you would do well to find a fine fish restaurant at the pier or along the beaches. Otherwise select from the fine dining options, or small local restaurants for something more traditional, whichever you prefer.
Getting to Ko Lan from Pattaya is very easy as there is a ferry every half an hour from the city’s main port directly to the island. If you are exploring the island on your own, you can hire a scooter to get to the beaches, otherwise take the blue shuttle buses or ‘songtaews’ that service the route between them. The island’s main village is Na Ban, where most of its local residents live and is where the ferry docks.
Useful Tip: Pack a waterproof camera to capture some of the underwater magic.