Koh Lanta is a collection of beautiful little islands nestled just off the Southern coast of Thailand, famous for dreamy beaches and stunning natural surroundings. Koh Lanta Yai is the most visited of these islands, and is often referred to simply as Ko(h) Lanta. If you’re after a little bit of adventure mixed in with a lot of relaxing, this is the island for you…
I turned up in Koh Lanta with no hostel booked and no idea what to expect. Luckily, I stumbled upon a wonderful hostel right on Long Beach – easily one of nicest beaches I’ve seen on my travels. What followed was a love affair with white sand and crystal waters. Each morning, I’d stick my head out of my dorm: ‘Can I stay for one more night, please?’. Koh Lanta’s beaches were the reason I stayed so much longer than planned, so I’ll run through my top five sandy havens for you…
Probably the most famous beach in Koh Lanta, Long Beach is just that – it’s huge stretch of fine, white sand, dotted with palm trees and edged by clean, crystal blue water. It does get pretty popular, but there’s plenty of room for everyone. There are no buildings really set on the beach itself – they’re all behind you as you sit facing the ocean, which I didn’t expect for a touristy spot. There’s nothing to obstruct your view of the deep blue, so relax and enjoy the rays.
Behind you will be various cafes, bars, seafood restaurants and massage huts. While Koh Lanta itself is a pretty cheap island to visit, the places to eat here will be slightly more expensive than usual. You’re paying for the view, after all. This beach was full of families when I was there and has that classic ‘holiday’ feel to it. If you’re after something more private, check out Diamond Cliff Beach, below.
I stayed pretty much on Long Beach, but it’s well-signed and easy to reach from anywhere on the island. This is definitely one of my favourite Koh Lanta beaches, and is a bit of an ol’ reliable – you know what you’re getting, and you know you’re going to like it. Kind of like a margherita pizza…
Diamond Cliff Beach
We rented a moped from our hostel and zipped around the island, misreading the map and getting slightly lost. This seems to be a bit of a theme for me when it comes to travelling! Against the odds, we found our way to Diamond Cliff Beach and made a solemn vow to never leave. The view from the road is amazing, and as you walk down the winding steps, you’ll find yourself stripping off so you can get in ocean more quickly….
This is the most stunning of the Koh Lanta beaches and there were only about three other people there when we arrived. It’s quite a small beach, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty. There are ramshackle huts covered in palm trees to rest under, and nothing else. The water here is so clear, cool and refreshing. I’d suggest taking plenty of suncream and drinks, as there isn’t a whole lot of shade.
If you get hungry, head back up the steps to Diamond Cliff Restaurant for lunch and enjoy the spectacular views. Despite our poor navigational skills, there are actually quite a few signs on the way here, and space to park just off the road. I wouldn’t recommend this one for wheelchair users or anyone with teeny tots – there are quite a few steps leading to the beach and no wheelchair or pushchair ramps.This is one of those places that you can’t quite believe is real, and it remains in my top five beaches of all time for that reason.
Klong Nin Beach
This one should be pretty easy for you to find, and there’s always plenty of room to stretch out and get settled. This was probably my favourite of the Koh Lanta beaches to swim in, as there are no hidden rocky parts. The water here is relatively calm, although this obviously depends on what season you visit during!
Klong Nin is a great place to head if you want to relax with a sunset beer. We spent a fair amount of time at Blue Moon Restaurant, which is right on the beach. You can chill on a beach mat or under an umbrella, provided you order something from their menu. This makes a great place to watch sunset and has a bit more of an atmosphere to it than some of the other beaches, with fairy lights and quirky music, as well as lovely staff.
This beach is close to one of the main tourist spots, so there are some shops and bars dotted around if you fancy making a night of it. This is a family-friendly beach that is easily accessible from the road, happy days for anyone with buggies! Relax in the shade or make the most of the sunshine….
Bamboo Bay wins the award for most stunning backdrop. This crescent-shaped bay is perfectly positioned in front of a jungle. And the jungle is perfectly positioned in front of craggy mountains. If you’re an adventurous type, this is the beach for you.
The beach itself is lovely, although isn’t the best for swimming due to the lining of rocks around its curved edges. It’s quite easy to find but takes some walking from the main road to the sand itself. This is fine for young children but not for wheelchair users or pushchairs, I’d say. The ground isn’t that well kept and it feels quite ‘off-road’ at times! It’s all worth it, however, for the majestic views.
There are a few beach bars and hotels backing the beginning stretch of the beach, but the far end is very quiet and remote. If you want some time out and fancy something a little wilder than just crystal waters and calm, head here.
This is the ultimate hideaway, and the perfect beach to relax on. It’s quite secluded and is often ignored by tourists in favour of beaches with bars and music. For me, this beach was the ideal place to unwind and really take in the beauty of Koh Lanta.
Close to Klong Nin beach, this little haven is sign-posted but quite easy to miss! Take your time finding it and enjoy the walk from the road to the sand, surrounded by luscious green plants and trees. There is an entrance the main bar on the road, but it feels nicer to take a little trek before dipping into the cool, blue water.
Be careful swimming here and don’t go too far out unless you’re a strong swimmer. There can be a strong currents and some rocky patches, so I preferred to not-swim in the shallower spots and take in the whole setting.
Koh Lanta beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world, and it’s been hard to narrow them down to my top five. There are plenty more to explore – from quiet, hidden gems to lively ‘Full Moon’ spots. Some of my favourite beaches on this island have no name, they were just flashes of golden sand that caught my eye from the moped that just had to be enjoyed. Take your time exploring and find your own favourites…
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