Thanks to Leonardo Di Caprio (or not) Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi
has now become a “must see” attraction for those visiting Phuket and the surrounding provinces of Krabi and Phang Nga. Made famous by Alex Garland’s book, “The Beach” whereby a group of young travelers turn their back on society and go to live on a paradise island in Southern Thailand, cutting themselves off from the rest of the world. The movie has inspired many travelers to visit this beautiful island, just a short distance from Koh Phi Phi, ThailandThe Beach
The island itself is a relatively small island with the only inhabitants being caretakers. Maya Bay Beach is a beautiful sheltered area on one side of the island. All but one side is covered by cliffs hundreds of feet high. Apart from the main beach, which is about 200 meters long, there are several smaller beaches. The main beach has some of the finest white powdery sand in Thailand cascading into crystal clear water. Because of the movie, the main beach has now become a focal point for the majority of tourists visiting the nearby island of Koh Phi Phi. So much so, that on any given day during peak season, no fewer than 50-60 speed boats arrive, packed full of eager tourists from the surrounding provinces, all wanting their photograph taken, as a keepsake for those dedicated Di Caprio fans.Location
Koh Phi Phi Don is the largest of the Archipelago Island, while Koh Phi Phi Ley being the second largest. The island has steep limestone hills surrounding two shallow bay, Maya Bay and Loh Samah. Most of the activities surrounding this area, consist of swimming and snorkeling, the coral surrounding Maya Bay is some of the finest in Asia. You can also visit the Viking Caves, housing the infamous nests from swiftlet birds, which are supposed to boost virility. These birds roost away from predators high up in caves. Although you cannot enter the cave, your tour will usually consist of a quick stop for a photo opportunity, where you might just see workers trying to retrieve the nests using scaffolding made from bamboo.Getting to Maya Bay
The best time to visit Phi Phi, Maya Bay is between November and April when the waters are calm, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. From Phi Phi you can rent a longtail boat, which should cost you about 1000 baht and the tour usually last for about three hours. Longer day excursions are available, but these will obviously cost you more, depending on the amount of time you want to spend on the Maya Bay. Longtail boats are slower but are the cheaper option. A lot of tour operators now operate speedboat tours departing from nearby Phuket, Phi Phi and Krabi with a journey time of approximately one hour. Tour operators who operate tours from Phuket and Krabi, nearly always include a stop at Maya Bay and the Viking Caves for a photo opportunity.
If you decide to take a tour you will be given the opportunity to go snorkeling. Some of the best snorkeling In Thailand can be found in and around Maya Bay. Lots of very beautiful coral and brightly colored fish and in high season, when the waters are calm, the visibility should be excellent. It does get rather busy with all the tourists from the speedboats.Information
Up until 10 years ago, the island had avoided any development, however, it is now park of the Koh Phi Phi National Park. Some of the natural plant life is being cleared to make room for some bungalows. Maya Bay Camping has also become a popular activity for those who want to spend a night under the stars. At present there is a small camping site in the middle of the island, where visitors can stay the night. It might be the only chance you get to being alone on the beach, as most other times are very crowded with hordes of tourists. There are a few permanent structures on the island, which include toilets, a snack bar and as previously mentioned, a camping area. To gain access to Maya Bay you are required to pay a fee of 200 Thai Baht but most operators will include this in the cost of their tours.Maya Bay Camping/Sleep Aboard Tours
Maya Bay does not have accommodation as such, but they do have a small camping facility. Tourists can stay overnight but this is limited to every other night. A number of agents operating from Koh Phi Phi are able to offer you such tours. Increasing in popularity are the overnight sleep aboard tours. This is where you spend a night anchored just off shore, sleeping aboard a small cruiser. After 6pm when the speedboats start returning to their original destinations is the best time to experience the beach. You tend to have the beach to yourself.
Despite its continued popularity, Maya Bay is still a beautiful beach to visit if you are in the area. If the budget allows, you should try and spend a night on one of the sleep aboard tours. This way you will have the chance to experience the beach with very few tourists.