What to Do in Pattaya Islands
Pattaya’s Islands offer an idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy coastal city. Few of them are particularly big and the vast majority are uninhabited, with many of them being ringed with beautiful sandy beaches and clear water. Here, you’ll also find some great spots for snorkelling, diving and fishing. With none of these activities or attractions being widely available on Pattaya Beach, the islands are extremely popular with those seeking seaside relaxation.
Reaching the islands around Pattaya is quite easy. The inhabited ones have a regular ferry service available from nearby ports while the ones without a permanent population can be reached by chartering a speedboat or taking an island cruise. These all depart the main Bali Hai Pier or Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Na Jomtien.
Broadly speaking, the islands are separated into the ‘Far’ and ‘Near Islands’, depending on their distance from Pattaya.
Koh Larn is the largest of the islands which can be reached from Bali Hai Pier and is the only one with a resident population. There are a few small hotels, both in the village around the main pier - Na Ban - and around the larger of the island’s beaches. There are six main beaches: Samae, Tien and Tawaen beaches all have accommodation options while Naul, Tonglang and Tayaiy beaches have at least one restaurant, jet ski hire, banana boat rides and more. While snorkelling is possible and the corals are nice, the large amount of boat traffic means you need to keep your wits about you.
Koh Larn has a small network of paved roads and plenty of songtaews and motorbike taxis to get you around the best beaches. There is a regular ferry between Bali Hai Pier and Na Ban, which takes about 35 minutes and 30 baht per person each way. You can also charter a speedboat to take you and up to nine others to any of the beaches for between 1,500 and 2,500 baht, taking only about 20 minutes to cover the 7km to the island. Read More...2Koh Sak
Once a private resort visited by the rich and famous, the U-shaped island has very little more than two beautiful beaches with a path between them. The northern beach, on the inside of the crescent of land, is about 250m long and very popular for sunbathing and swimming and even has a few small restaurants. Diving tours regularly visit the coral reefs and the artificial shipwreck nearby. If you want to take a trip through history, walk along the path through the middle of the island, where you will find footprints left in concrete by famous feet, including Neil Armstrong’s just a few months after he came back from the moon!
The only way to reach Koh Sak is by speedboat charter from Bali Hai Pier.3Koh Krok
The closest of the Pattaya islands is one of the smallest – just 100m long, with a sandy beach along the eastern coast and a rocky shore to the west. The beach has dining options, sun loungers, jet skis and banana boats, but no accommodation. The corals near the island are good for snorkelling and diving. Speedboat charter is the only way to reach the small pier on Koh Krok.4Koh Phai (Bamboo Island)
Bamboo Island - or Koh Phai - is the biggest of a small island chain, which also includes Koh Klung Badan, Koh Luam, Koh Luam Noi and Koh Man Wichai. Located about 23km from Pattaya, it can take as much as two hours to reach them. Koh Phai is under the supervision of the Royal Thai Navy, meaning that there are no permanent facilities there and visitors are not permitted to stay overnight. Sunbathing on the pristine beach and swimming or snorkelling around the excellent coral reefs is permitted. The reefs around all of the islands in this chain and the nearby wreck of the HTMS Khram are among the best scuba diving sites around Pattaya.
There is no ferry service operating to the Koh Phai islands, making the best way to reach them a speedboat charter from Bali Hai Pier.5Koh Rin (Gnat Island)
Gnat Island is a tiny piece of paradise that has perfect beaches, stunningly clear water and beautiful coral reefs. Divers and snorkelers can also see a resident family of sea turtles and the occasional used practise shell – the sea around the island is part of a Royal Thai Navy gunnery range! Don’t worry; it is perfectly safe to visit and is, in fact, extremely popular with sun worshipers. More commonly known as Koh Rin, this spot is on the itinerary of most of the island cruises sailing out of the Ocean Marina Yacht Club and can also be reached with a speedboat charter.6Koh Khram
The fact that the large Koh Khram is arguably one of the most beautiful Pattaya islands only makes it a greater pity that it is owned by the Royal Thai Navy and is therefore largely off limits. The boat charter services from Ocean Marina Yacht Club sometimes make a short stop on the pristine beaches, but staying for any longer than an hour is generally impossible. The fact that there is literally nothing on the island makes it a real Robinson Crusoe experience.7Monkey Island
While its actual name is Koh Klet Kaew (sometimes called Koh Ped), the small jungle-covered island is almost always known as Koh Ling – Monkey Island. This is because of the large resident population of white-handed gibbons, which were intentionally released in 1967 as part of a study into the species’ behaviour. The population rapidly expanded from a mere 19 animals to the hundreds there now. The regular visits by charter boats and island cruise trips mean that the monkeys are well accustomed to interacting with humans and they will come running at the first sound of engines to get the fruit which visitors bring.8Koh Si Chang
The closest island to Bangkok and a former royal retreat, Koh Si Chang is particularly popular with locals. Haad Tham Phang (Collapsed Cave Beach) is the favourite of the few stretches of sand you will find there. Other attractions include swimming and kayaking between the practically deserted coves and walking or cycling around the pagodas, shrines, temples and the remarkable Yellow Buddha of Wat Tham Chakrabongse.
The island has a range of excellent local restaurants and several accommodation options, which are great places to enjoy the island’s peace and isolation and the quaint fishing-village vibe of the main town. There is a regular ferry service between the Sri Racha and Koh Si Chang, which costs 40 baht per person and takes about 15-20 minutes each way.
A small island off Rayong (about an hour’s drive south of Pattaya), Koh Samet has sheer cliffs along the west coast and gorgeous beaches along the east coast. It is a favourite weekend retreat of Bangkokians and Pattayans, particularly among young people and students who like to party as the main town has an active nightlife. There is even an annual Thai pop and rock music festival there!
Koh Samet has a good selection of hotels, ranging from very basic bungalows up to five-star resorts. The roads on the island are mostly unpaved, making the favoured mode of transport ATVs, but there are also some songtaews and the island is small enough to walk. The beautiful blue seas around the shore are great for swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers.
There is a regular ferry service from Ban Phe Pier in Rayong, which costs 200 baht and takes about an hour to reach Koh Samet. As with all Pattaya islands, you can also get there by chartering a speedboat, which can do the trip in about 20 minutes. Read More...