So, you’re searching for the best beach on Koh Lanta? That’s not a bad search to be on!
We simply adore this island on the edge of the Thai Andaman. It’s got jungle-clad hills and crooked fishing towns. Resplendent coral reefs thread its shoreline. Pockets of mangrove roll into dense jungle where waterfalls gurgle between the teak trees and the vines. Yep – it’s an amazing place!
And when it comes to beaches…well, let’s just say there are more jaw-dropping tropical sands here than you can shake a plate of pad Thai at. But don’t do that: It’s a waste!
This guide aims to help you pinpoint the best beach on Koh Lanta. It runs through some of the finest coves and crevices on the shoreline of the island. Most are on the west coast, which faces the famous Phi Phi archipelago across the Andaman Sea. Some are quintessential Thai stuff – cotton-tinted powder, turquoise water, beer shacks at hand. Others are hidden; perfect for those romantic sunset sessions and morning dips to yourself.
Ready? Let’s begin…
Long Beach – our all-round pick for the best beach on Koh Lanta
Best for: Everyone – this is Koh Lanta’s best all-rounder!
Long Beach isn’t just – as the name implies – a beach. It’s also arguably the best area to stay on Koh Lanta if you’re coming as a family. The reason? Top-quality resorts pop up between the lanky pines and palms just behind the shore. They offer cute bungalows with swinging hammocks and swimming pools aplenty. The town of Long Beach, meanwhile, is a hubbub of reggae-bumping beer bars and soy-scented kitchens on the south end of the sands.
Talking of the sands…Long Beach, Koh Lanta, racks up a whopping 1.7 miles of the stuff. It starts at a rocky headland in the north (bring the snorkels) and ends at a river mouth in the south. We can’t say we’re huge fans of the big concrete promenade that was built in 2018/19, but hey, there’s enough to make up for that: The whole place is gold-tinged and beautiful, and there’s plenty of space to lay your towel and swim.
Best for: Sampling Thailand’s paradise side
Let the crowds get sucked in by Kantiang Bay. You should push on around the wiggling bend in the road to Nui Bay, the next beach along. It’s just as good as its more-famous brother. In fact, we’d say it’s better! Talcum-powder white as it shimmers under high cliffs, it’s got more of a remote and protected feel. The water is also super clean, which is why so many come with the snorkels and goggles in tow.
We particularly love the selection of ramshackle, bamboo-built restaurants that dot the palm forests on the lookout point just above Nui Bay. They offer panoramic and shady lunch spots where you can chow down on spicy tofu while watching the waves lap in.
Feeling adventurous? This one is also perfectly situated for those looking to explore the deep jungles on the south trip of the island. They hide bat caves and waterfalls and intrepid trekking paths. The trailheads are just down the road if that sounds like your sort of thing.
Best for: Having a beach to yourself – if you’re lucky!
Shh – it’s a secret! At least, Secret Beach, Koh Lanta, was a secret until someone went and raised that sign pointing right to it on the main coast road running down the island. No matter. The spot still exudes that Robinson Crusoe sort of vibe. It’s hidden at the end of dusty dirt track a few coves around from Long Beach. Through a pocket of elongated palm trees that sway in the salty breeze you’ll see it, dashing from headland to headland with its talcum sands.
Don’t be surprised to find a few hefty cows blocking the path when you arrive. They’re the local residents. Still, the heifer gauntlet is worth running, because the reward is arguably the best beach on Koh Lanta as a whole. It’s small and sloping, has a sky-blue tint to its water, and hosts one of our favourite little food shacks. Grab a fried rice and a mango lassi for lunch. Wait for sunset to get the cold Chang in. You won’t be disappointed!
Best for: Sunset beers
Relax Beach does exactly what it says on the tin. Seriously, there’s hardly a better chillout spot on the west coast than this. The first time we were in Lanta, it was our go-to afternoon beach for swims between the rocks and topping up the tan. Look for the signs that point you there towards the south end of Long Beach. (The entrance is actually directly opposite Happy Veggie café, which we’d say is one of the finest meat-free eateries in all of Thailand!)
You’ll soon emerge onto a horseshoe of a bay. The south end is mainly large rocks and reef, with a few bobbing fishing boats moored to the palms. The north is where you’ll want to lay down the towel. Pockets of sea vines and sea pineapples (strange things) give way to pebble-speckled sand there. As evening sets in, things get even better on Relax Beach. The local bars tout bargain happy-hour deals on cocktails and there’s always a spectacular sunset glowing rust-red and ochre. Be sure to bring the camera along.
Best for: Getting the romance a-flowing
If you’ve ever seen a postcard of Koh Lanta, there’s a good chance that it was a postcard of Kantiang Bay. A favourite with the honeymoon crowd for its clutch of uber-luxurious resort hotels, the beach is everything you’d expect of a Thai island. It’s a long, curvaceous bend in the coast. The sand is a white-gold mix that slopes softly into a sea of gleaming azure blue. There are clusters of palms and banyan trees gnarled overhead. Picture perfect!
Like we’ve said, the beach is also perhaps the best area to stay on Koh Lanta for loved-up couples. That’s because the small town isn’t packed with pumping bars, but prefers elegant fish restaurants. It’s because the hotels here often tout infinity pools, adults only policies, and sprawling suites that let you sleep to the sound of the rustles in the jungle. The only downside of being near Kantiang Bay is that it’s one of the hardest beaches on Koh Lanta to get to. The best option is a private transfer, which can take up to 30 minutes from the port at Ban Saladan.
Best for: Swimming and days on the sand with the family
Klong Nin sits midway down the west coast of Koh Lanta. It’s a long, sliver of sand that drops quickly into a deep Andaman Sea. The result? A swimmer’s and sailor’s paradise. Dodge the few small waves that roll in to meet the bay and you’ll soon be lost with the zebrafish and the plankton. Alternatively, you could also charter a vessel to join the catamaran crews who regularly cruise up and down this stretch of the island looking for secret coves to drop into.
In terms of character, Klong Nin is a little like a toned-down Long Beach. Koh Lanta hits a zenith for families here, with bungalow resorts and oodles of three-star hotels with pools right by the water’s edge. For a little more luxury, you can seek the chic all-inclusives that straddle the hills above the bay. The town of Klong Nin can be found just behind the shoreline. It’s got a 7-Eleven store, laundrettes, sports bars – everything you could need during your chill-our vacay in the Land of Smiles.
Klong Khong – the best beach on Koh Lanta for parties
Best for: Backpackers who want beach parties at night
There’s not a self-respecting soul alive who would ever claim that Klong Khong was the best beach on Koh Lanta. Nope. Not when the white powders of Kantiang and Secret Beach are near. It just doesn’t even come close. But there’s something else going for this long length of cinnamon-hued sand south of Long Beach: Parties. Yep, this is the single best area to stay on Koh Lanta if you’re looking to guzzle bucket cocktails and don the neon paint, Phi Phi style.
Klong Khong might not have the looks, but it’s whole beachfront is riddled with bamboo bars and pumping beach clubs. They tend to take it in turns to host the hedonism. On Mondays, it could be the turn of reggae-psychodelia mashup, Mushroom Bar. On Wednesday, you could find yourself bopping the night away in a silent disco in Freedom Bar. The street just back from the coast is packed with cafés and Thai kitchens and hostels. None of them should break the bank.
Laem Kho Kwang Beach
Best for: Escaping the bustle of Ban Saladan (the main port)
Laem Kho Kwang Beach is the first beach you’ll come to when you cross over to Koh Lanta from the mainland by road. It’s also a mere stone’s throw from the main ferry port in Ban Saladan. The accessibility usually means it’s a little busy. That’s especially true at the sunset hour, which can see the Phi Phi islands cast as dramatic silhouettes on the horizon. Crowds aside, you’ll still get that much-needed fix of yellow-tinged sand and stooping coconut palms here, so it’s certainly worth having on the radar.
You’ll notice a big tidal difference at this northern end of the island. That can turn Laem Kho Kwang Beach into a wide swathe of salt pools and sandbanks when the water’s out. It’s perfect for long, lazy walks on the coast, even if it doesn’t look quite as pretty. What’s more, the north-facing bend at the farthest end of the bay is one of Thailand’s rare surf spots. Head there in the stormy wet season and you could just catch a few locals riding the waves.
So, where’s the best beach on Koh Lanta?
From the gritty port of the north to the paradise sands of the south, the pumping beach bars of Klong Khong to the pearly hues of Kantiang Bay, there are all sorts of beaches on Koh Lanta to pick from.
We have a certain soft spot for the hidden inlet of Secret Beach and the cloud-coloured sands of Nui Bay. But that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be just as happy spending or holidays soaking up the rays on Long Beach or clinking cold Chang beers on Relax Beach.
I guess the message is that there’s no such thing as the single best beach on Koh Lanta. That’s one of the great pulls of this Andaman isle. There are spots that are perfect for families. You’ll find bays tailor-made for snorkellers and swimmers. You get inlets and coves where it can be just you and your other half and the resplendent sunsets across the Andaman Sea. Nice.
Reckon we’ve missed something? If you can think of any other candidate for the best beach on Koh Lanta that simply has to be on this list, we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.