Koh Larn is a small island in Pattaya, and very close to Bangkok. It is filled with cool cafes and gorgeous beaches. It’s not weird if you have not heard of this place before. Since Koh Larn is technically in Pattaya, a place that is infamously known for sketchy parties and dirty beaches, you may wonder how on earth would beautiful beaches exist in such close proximity to a party town? But once you cross over from Pattaya to Koh Larn, you will see it’s a completely different world! Here’s my take on the best way to explore Koh Larn like a local:
Rent a motorbike
If you’re a couple, you can rent one bike. Two persons on one bike is a good number. If you don’t feel secure riding a motorbike, local transports are also available but are not the most convenient option if you’re heading to less touristy areas.
Tip No.1 – Never do 3 people on the same bike: It’s quite dangerous as the roads on Koh Larn are both sandy and filled with curves.
Tip No.2 – Pick a bigger motorbike that’s not a scooter type. Ask the shop for a bike that you can go uphill with. It will save you lots of energy as many of the beaches you will probably want to visit will be through some curvy uphill roads.
Tip No.3 – Avg pricing for an overnight rent is 300 baht. However, prices may go up to 400 baht during festive periods like New Year’s Eve. Renting time is usually from 3-4PM until noon the next day.
Tip No.4 – Once you’ve picked out your bike and agree on renting, you give them your id and they will keep it until you return the bike. Once everything is done, take pictures of all imperfections of the bike. Take photos of all sides of the bike, and one with you (or someone from your group) in it. Let the shop owner see you taking the photos, so they don’t try to charge you for a scratch or dent that is already there.
Visit Pretty and Rocky Beaches
Basically the entire point of going to Koh Larn in the first place. Here are my most recommended beaches to visit:
In my opinion, this is the most beautiful beach with best of everything in one medium sized beach. It’s got rocky sides that yield the best Instagram worthy photos, some very clear waters, and sandy beach. Plus, it’s not super touristy. That is just what everyone who wants to relax is looking for!
A great spot to watch the sunset. Right on the side of Tien Beach is a beautiful wooden bridge.
Popular spot for doing a sea-walker or snorkeling. It is easy to get to since it’s right next to the touristy Tawaen Beach. It is much calmer and more beautiful at Sangwal Beach. You’re less likely to get pictures filled with people in the background.
Ta Yai Beach
This is a rather quiet beach around the top of the island. This is close to the resort I stayed at. It’s a small very pretty beach with lots of rocky parts on the side of the beach. Truly gorgeous.
Stop by Sunny Golden Meadows
On the way to Nual Beach, you will see a stretch of meadows, glowing in the warmth of tropical island sun. While you’re on the motorbike, and the wind is blowing in your face, you cannot miss this gorgeous view. The best time to visit is around 4PM. Chances are, there will already be some people there taking photos with the gorgeous field during golden hours of the day. But lucky you, this spot is not really on any guidebook. I visited during New Year’s Eve, and it was not crowded at all.
Go on a Diving/Snorkeling Trips
When you visit such clean beaches, with wonderful aqua sea water, you just can’t miss out on diving or snorkeling trips! A great way to book these trips is to just go to their booth at the Na Baan Pier. There are two popular companies that provide diving trips and squid fishing. One is called Koh Larn Relax, and the other is called Khai Mia. If you’re arriving through Na Baan Pier, you should see one right when the pier ends, and the other if you walk further towards the food court and motorbike rentals. They are rather no difference between the service of the two. You can choose whichever one that suits your schedule more.
Price for going snorkeling is around 300 baht per person. They usually take you to a small island near Koh Larn called Koh Sak. But if the waves aren’t so friendly that day, they may take you to one of the beaches close by instead. Depending on the wind and waves, you may or may not see the corals clearly. But hey, any excuse to jump into the sea and swim around with fish everywhere is fine by me.
Go Café Hopping
One of the things you will quickly notice about Koh Larn as you arrive is the amount of cute and chic cafes in the area. They serve food, coffee, and dessert. Some of these cafes even turn into bars at night because they know that when you’re in Koh Larn, 9 pm is too young to call it a night. I recommend, if you’re into the cafes lifestyle that is, to go café hopping on a lazy day. Here are my recommended cafes:
Phak Rorn Café (Summer House)
This is a very hip and probably have the best interior in town. They have amazing coffee, tea, and other drinks. But the true highlight of this café is the dish called Kao Maew translating directly into cat’s rice. It’s fried short mackerel fish, shredded and then mixed with rice. It doesn’t sound that flavourful, l but trust me that it is! Of the three days I spent on Koh Larn, I’ve visited this café twice and ordered this both times.
One more thing you absolutely cannot miss while you’re at this café is the Blueberry Cheese Pie! Oh heaven! It is the best blueberry cheese pie I’ve ever had. I’m drooling just thinking about it!
Pizza and Coffee Koh Larn
This is a very local pizza and coffee place (as the name suggests) very close to the Na Baan Pier. The drinks are great, the pizza is a great fix of western food. I would say, pizza goes quite well with the beach atmosphere!
Love on Sea
This one is a dessert café. It has a pretty interior, with white and blue interior. The desserts are good. The drinks are good. What more can I ask for from a dessert café?
This place probably has the best view. They have great coffee and tea. Sit outdoors, sipping coffee, looking out to the beach. Pure bliss! After 7 pm, this café turns into a bar with live music playing on its balcony.
Do not miss the chance to have fresh seafood while you’re on an island! The choice of seafood is up to you. They have everything ranging from crab, shrimp, squid, scallops, fish, and so much more! You can either buy them raw and cook them yourself (many resorts will provide grills you can use) and have a seafood party with friends, but I had mine grilled there on the spot. I then took them back to the resort and ate on the balcony, looking out to the sea. What a bliss! The main seafood market is near the Na Baan Pier, at a place called Na Wat Seafood Market.