9 Great Islands around Pattaya
We all love Pattaya but sometimes it can get that little bit too much and we just want the opportunity to get away and take things just that fraction slower. The islands that are situated close to Pattaya offer that very opportunity with most being fairly small and some are even uninhabited. What they do have in common is that they all have beautiful sandy beaches and idyllic waters, ideal for snorkelling and diving. These islands offer the perfect location for a little bit of relaxation.
Most of the islands are very easy to get to from the mainland. The larger, inhabited islands usually have a regular ferry service whilst the ones without permanent inhabitants are usually reached via speedboat. You can charter these boats from various locations in Pattaya such as Bali Hai Pier or Ocean Marina Yacht Club although chartering a speedboat from other locations is generally relatively easy.
Locally, the islands are referred to as the ‘Near Islands’ or the ‘Far Islands’ and this is not surprisingly based on their proximity to Pattaya.
Koh Larn is sometimes referred to as Coral Island and is the large island that you can see when you look across Pattaya Bay from Naklua or Pattaya. The island is just 7.5km off the Pattaya coast and has long since been a popular retreat for those staying in Pattaya. Due to its close proximity, the island is ideal for day trips with many catching a ferry in the morning and returning in the evening. The journey from Bali Hai Pier takes around 35 minutes and costs just THB30 per person each way. Alternatively, you could catch a speedboat for between THB1,500 and THB2,500 per person.
Koh Larn has a small network of roads, small shops, restaurants and hotels that vary in quality. Most people get around either by taking a Songtaew or hiring a motorbike. The two most popular beaches are Samae Beach and Tawaen Beach and accommodation can be found in both of these places.
Formerly a private resort, Koh Sak is a U-shaped island and has two magnificent beaches. The beach to the north is on the inside of the crescent and is around 250 metres long and has beautiful white sands and clear waters. Here you will find a small selection of restaurants and regular dive tours to explore the marine life and an artificial shipwreck. There is a path through the middle of the island and here you will find footprints deliberately left in the concrete by famous people such as Neil Armstrong.
No ferries run from Pattaya to Koh Sak so a speedboat would need to be chartered from Bali Hai Pier.
Koh Krok is the small island that you can see in front of Koh Larn as you look from Pattaya. The island is just 100 metres long. It has a small beach that has a tiny restaurant, sun loungers and water sports but there are no places to stay on the island. This is a popular spot with snorkelling and diving groups thanks to the corals and the clear waters. The island can only be reached by chartering a speedboat to and from the island.
Often referred to as Bamboo Island, Koh Phai is located around 23km from Pattaya and is part of a small group of islands. The island is controlled by the Royal Thai Navy and there are no permanent facilities and certainly no hotels or accommodation although this does add to the character of the place. The beaches are pristine, the waters are crystal clear and the coral reefs remain largely unspoilt due to the restrictions that are in place regarding tourists. The shipwreck, HMS Khram is nearby and this is a popular dive site, hardly surprising when you consider the abundance of marine life that is also present.
The only way to get to the island is via speedboat as no ferry services run to Koh Phai.
Koh Rin is sometimes known as Gnat Island is perhaps one of the best islands in Thailand as it has stunning beaches, turquoise waters and perfect coral reefs, once again appealing to divers and snorkelers alike. The island also has a family of sea turtles that are frequently seen and you may even find some spent practice shells that have been used by the Royal Thai Navy. The is something of a haven for sun worshipers and features on most island cruises that are organised by the Ocean Marina Yacht Club.
No direct ferry services run there so again it would need to be accessed by speedboat.
Koh Khram is a large island that is owned by the Royal Thai Navy. It is a large island that remains unspoilt as guests are only allowed to stop for short periods. Arguably, this is a sad state of affairs as the island has such stunning natural beauty but it is perhaps for this reason that it retains its charm. Described by many as having a Robinson Crusoe like feel, it is hardly surprising that it appears on the itinerary of so many organised cruises.
The island can be reached by charter boat services from Ocean Marina Yacht Club.
The real name of this island is Koh Klet Kaew although it is rarely referred to by this name is instead being known as Koh Ling – Monkey Island. Not surprisingly, the island gained the name thanks to the large numbers of crab-eating macaques that inhabit the area. The monkeys are usually delighted to see humans arrive, associating them with food and are more than happy to interact with them and tend to come running when they hear the noise of boat engines.
Again the island can only be reached on cruises or chartered speedboats.
Koh Si Chang
The island is a popular retreat for Bangkokians looking for a weekend break and is the closest island to the capital. It was a former royal retreat and Haad Tham Phang (Collapsed Cave) is a particular favourite as here you will find one of the very few stretches of sand. Many of the coves are deserted and these can be visited by kayak. Other visitors prefer to walk or cycle around the islands many other attractions such as the pagodas and the Yellow Buddha of Wat Tham Chakrabongse.
You will not be short of choice when it comes to restaurants or accommodation as you will find options plentiful. The island is a great place to relax amongst the peace and isolation and the main town still manages to retain a definite quaint fishing-village style of yesteryear.
A regular ferry service runs from Sri Racha and the island and costs just THB40 per person, each way. The journey takes approximately 20 minutes depending on sea conditions.
Koh Samet is located around an hours drive to the south of Pattaya and is an island located off the coast of Rayong. A particular favourite with tourists, expats and locals alike, Koh Samet is a magnificent contrast between the sheer cliffs on the west coast and the immaculate beaches on the east. The main town has an active nightlife but nothing of the scale that you would see in Pattaya and this attract lots of the younger generation including students and backpackers.
You will find the full range of accommodation available from the very basic to upmarket, five-star hotels with every luxury that you could imagine. Most people get around the island on ATV as the majority of roads are unsurfaced although there are some Songtaews available. The island is quite small so you can easily get around on foot. This is a real sanctuary for sun lovers, swimmers and snorkelers.
There is a regular ferry service from Ban Phe Pier that costs THB200 and the crossing takes around an hour. However, if you wish to get there quicker you could charter a speedboat from the same pier.