Maya Bay and The Phi Phi Islands
The archipelago of the Phi Phi Islands is located in Thailand’s Andaman Sea. The archipelago is made up of six islands with Phi Phi Don as the only populated island in the chain. This island isn’t the main destination for the thousands of visitors who make the trek every year. That honor would go to the island of Phi Phi Leh. The name may not be recognizable but the images are memorable. Maya Bay, to be precise, is world renowned and located on this island. Maya Bay was the location for the 2000 film “The Beach” which started Leonardo Dicaprio. The bay is surrounded by 100 meter cliffs on three sides and the turquoise waters will call out to you and before you know it you will be swimming in it in no time. If you do want to swim in the waters, I suggest you visit the bay early. In fact, I suggest you visit as early as possible as the small beach is over run by tourist. It is such a tranquil and beautiful beach and bay but when the boats arrive from the local port of Phi Phi Don and are joined by day trippers from Phuket and Krabi, the beauty of the bay is definitely tarnished.
Staying on the island of Phi Phi Don has its advantage in that I was able to do the earliest tour and arrived at the beach at 7 a.m. We were the 2nd tour boat to arrive and I was able to enjoy the beach without the hoards of tourist that blanket the beach.
I may have spent the first hour just walking the beach, back and forth, like a nervous expecting father. I knew what was to come so I took as many photos and videos as possible and just enjoyed the surroundings as much as possible.
By 8 a.m., the beach goers had increased exponentially. I later spoke to a couple who were staying in Phuket and did the day trip to Maya Bay. They stated they arrived at noon and the boats were docked side to side along the beach. The beach goers were standing elbow-to-elbow on the sand. “The Beach” exposed the beauty of the bay but it has had an adverse effect in the numbers of visitors that flock to this paradise every day. When I created my itinerary for my Thailand expedition, I knew about the throngs of tourist visiting the bay but the islands are a vision of paradise and I still had to visit.
My early tour to Maya Bay also included visits to Pi Leh Lagoon and Loh Samah Bay. All three are located on the same island of Phi Phi Leh. Loh Samah Bay is a great location for snorkeling as it is somewhat protected from the currents by a smaller island. The waters here are deeper but the visibility was so clear, it really wasn’t a concern.
Pi Leh Lagoon is well protected by the sea by high cliffs and the waters here are so clear it makes the boats appear like they are floating on air. The absence of the sea’s current makes this a unique swimming experience and we took advantage of it. The last stop on this half day excursion was a visit to Monkey Beach on the island of Phi Phi Don. The number of tourist seemed to attract the monkeys from the cliffs since they have been accustomed to receiving food from visitors.
The next day, I decided to explore the northern part of the islands. The day of snorkeling started in Nui Bay where the fish were the most plentiful and the water was as clear as you would hope for.
We then continued on to the main destination for this trip which was Bamboo Island. I had heard about the fabulous snorkeling here so I was looking forward to the visit. As we came closer to the island, the beach became visible and I was very impressed. Beautiful white sands and clear turquoise waters rule this island. I picked a spot on the beach to leave my pack and walked into the clear water and snorkeled on my own. It was a change of pace from the crowded Maya Bay.
Alluring white beach and clear waters, with room to stretch out without being in someone else’s selfie, makes this location my favorite beach. I could have spent the whole day here.
We ended the tour with a short swim and snorkel at Shark Point at the edge of Tonsai Bay. True to its name, I spotted a small three-foot shark in the shallow waters.
The archipelago of the Phi Phi Islands is anchored by the famous Maya Bay and “The Beach” but it is definitely much more than that. With all the water activities you can do here and the wonderful Tonsai Village, it’s definitely a location you should put on your bucket list.
Please click the link for a more detailed account of the only populated island and the location of the hotel accommodations, Phi Phi Don.