The Beach, Maya Bay - Phi Phi Ley
Location: Koh Phi Phi Ley, Krabi, Thailand
Services: Very Limited
A beautiful white sand beach in a sheltered bay on uninhabited Phi Phi Ley Island. Fluffy sand, beautiful water, and a reef teeming with fish make the beach at Maya Bay a top Thailand beach. Surrounded by tall limestone cliffs, the beach and bay feel truly paradisiacal.
But if you visit, don't expect to find the "secret grotto" shown in the movie. Hollywood's post production media magic closed the opening in the cliffs.
Maya Bay had very little international notoriety until Leonardo DiCaprio starred in "The Beach". Phi Phi Ley is the smaller of a pair of islands that float in the Andaman Sea between Krabi and Phuket. Before the movie, Maya Bay was popular with local Thais, backpackers, day trippers, and scuba divers. Now the beach is visited on a daily basis by hundreds of tourists.
Much to the dismay of environmentalists, the movie production company flattened the beach to make walking easier. They also planted palms and other and other vegetation. Lawsuits followed and claims about restoring the beach followed those lawsuits.
PHUKET, THAILAND, February 3rd 1999. Following two weeks of filming on Phi Phi Le National Park, the motion picture production of THE BEACH has begun the process of restoring the area to its original state. Over the coming weeks the island will be returned to its original state as per The Beach's contract with the Royal Forestry Department. The production took numerous steps to ensure that this area would be returned to an even superior condition than prior to the start of filming. To this end, the production removed three tons of inorganic rubbish from the beach and surrounding areas, and put up several waste bins that were emptied regularly. These waste bins will be left on the island for visitors to use.
Some travel resources claim that the 2004 tsunami corrected many of the man-made alterations.
Maya Bay has no facilities unless you consider a small drinks & snacks stand, and some really basic toilets, to be facilities. Those who want to visit overnight can arrange an excursion on the larger island, Phi Phi Don. Tour operators claim that the beach is much more enjoyable on the overnight tours. But draw your own conclusions, as "overnight tour Maya Bay" gets 400,000 hits on Google.
The beach at Maya Bay is worth a day trip, an overnighter and/or some diving. But with no facilities, Maya Bay really can't qualify as a stand-alone destination.