A day trip to Maya Bay on Phi Phi Island
The famous Maya Bay has reopened after a long and much-needed break from the increasing herds of tourists who were travelling all the way to see with their own eyes what this bay of Phi Phi Islands seen in the old Movie ‘The Beach looked like.
Update October 2023: after being closed again for 2 months Maya Bay has reopen (to a limited amount of visitors of course).
Even though we are not big fans of crowds, we decided it was time to go and see for ourselves what four years without tourists did for the bay, and what the partial reopening of the beach to a limited amount of visitors looked like. To do this, we took a full-day trip to Phi Phi island with the well-known Love Andaman cruises.
The first thing you need to know, and as explained by the crew of Love Andaman before departure, is that Phi Phi consists of two main islands and a few small ones: Koh Phi Phi Le, a national park with three lagoons: Pi Leh Bay, Loh Sama Bay and Maya Bay. The second island is Koh Phi Phi Don, where the hotels and bars are. Then you have Bamboo Island and Mosquito Island further north. The day trip starts at 8.30 am and includes 4 places: a stop at Maya Bay, a stop at Pi Leh Bay, lunch on Tonsai Bay and snorkelling in Bamboo Island before returning around 5 pm.
How to Get to Maya Bay on Phi Phi Island?
What does Maya Bay look like today?
The beach and the bay are truly magical, you have to see it with your own eyes and feel the sand with your own feet to realize own unique this enclosed bay is and why it was chosen for the movie. The sand is the softest we have found so far, the sea is shallow with clear turquoise water, and the immense limestone cliffs in the background add a dramatic and magical touch to the atmosphere.
Maya Bay 360 Panorama
Maya Bay 2023 video
Arriving at Maya Bay
Access to Maya Bay was restored in 2021 with certain strict conditions. Most importantly, boats can no longer approach the beach itself but instead must enter through Loh Sam Bay in the back of Maya Bay. Boats must stand by to disembark their passenger as fast as possible, and then park nearby for about an hour, waiting for the guests to come back. There is a National Park fee of 400 baht to pay when entering the area, but the fee is already included in your day trip price.
It may shock to see the crowd walking both ways up and down the pier, with rangers and tour leaders shouting or speaking in microphones to manage this crowd. This is because the floating pier is small and the bridge leading to the land is narrow, therefore boats are only allowed a few minutes to load and unload their passengers.
Our guide gave us a clear briefing as we approached the pier: Get ready as we approach in order to disembark quickly, how long can you stay on the beach, and what not to do. For instance: don’t walk on coral, don’t feed the fish, don’t collect anything from the beach, even sand. You are not allowed to swim in the bay, just walk knee-deep. Phi Phi Leh is a national park so you can’t fly a drone without proper authorisation. If you try, rangers will run at you yelling within 30 seconds.
Overall, the landing is a bit hectic and walking the path from the pier to the area before the bay itself is not a pleasant experience. However, if you really want to see Maya Bay for yourself, you should remember that it was a much worse experience in the past. A hundred people on a pristine beach is a lot better than the thousands of tourists plus their dozen speedboats anchored right on the sand!
Why was Maya Bay closed?
Before the bay was closed in 2018, the place was a nightmare, with speedboats anchoring right on the beach, offloading massive loads of tourists every day and destroying coral and damaging the ecosystem. Some photos were shared on social media showing a shockingly crowded beach, full of people competing to pause in front of the ocean with the bay’s entrance as a background.
The decision to close the bay was made in order to allow the coral reef and marine life in the area to recover from damage caused by excessive tourism. The bay was initially planned to be closed for four months, but has been extended several times and was reopened progressively and partially in 2022.
Other stops of the day trip
Pi Leh Lagoon
The trip lasts all day and you will visit several beautiful places. Depending on tides, the first stop is often Koh Pileh, a long lagoon with superb clear waters, surrounded by high green cliffs. The sea here is very shallow and you will be able to swim or even ride a longtail boat if you wish to. The shared longtail costs 300 per person, and the private longtail costs 1,800 baht. Instagrammers often prefer the private boat because they love to take selfies at the front of the boat and can ask the pilot to go here and there around the lagoon. The stop at Pi Leh Lagoon lasts about an hour.
Once you are completed the south part of the trip, it is time for a casual lunch by the beach on the main island. The buffet mainly consists of several classic and delicious Thai dishes and after the morning exploration, the lunch was a welcome break. Won’t have much time to visit Tonsai Village, but you can walk around the small streets to get an idea of what staying a night or two on Phi Phi Island could be like.
After lunch, the team took us to the beautiful Bamboo island. located a few kilometres northeast of the main island. Passengers are given the option to disembark on the vast beach to relax and take photos, or stay on the speedboat and move to a nearby snorkelling spot. The clear and very warm water makes it a fun experience for adults and kids. The equipment is provided for free as part of the package. Read more
How to get to Maya Bay
We went to Maya Bay with Love Andaman, a long-established cruise company that has been operating in the most popular islands around Phuket, such as Similans, Maiton Beach and even the remote Surin Islands. Passengers are greeted between 8 and 8.30 am at the Panwa pier, with a nice complimentary breakfast and drinks. The crew is friendly and attentive to the guests and before boarding, a good briefing is given to everyone, explaining the geography of the archipelago, the time allowed in each spot and the do and don’ts as part of Phi Phi is a national park.
The speedboats are large and comfortable, with a defined amount of seats, which makes sure the boats are never overloaded. The trip takes 45 minutes and the sea was just a little choppy on the way to Phi Phi and very flat on the way back. Note that Love Andaman can give you motion sickness pills if you just ask. The team is well trained, attentive and cheerful, making sure we were all safe and happy at all times, with a kind word for everyone and an excellent atmosphere all day.
Check out the Love Andaman website if you wish to experience this day out!
Phi Phi Islands and Maya Bay Map
Popular ways to go to Phi Phi Islands
FAQs about Maya Bay
Q. Where is Maya Bay located?
A. Maya Bay is located on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh in Thailand, 45 km southeast of Phuket Island.
Q. What is the main attraction of Maya Bay?
A. The main attraction of Maya Bay is the beautiful beach, crystal clear water and stunning limestone cliffs surrounding it.
Q. How can I get to Maya Bay?
A. Maya Bay can be accessed by boat from the mainland or from nearby islands, such as Phuket or Koh Phi Phi Don (Phi Phi main island).
Q. Is Maya Bay open to the public?
A. Yes, Maya Bay has been partially opened to the public after being closed for four years to allow for the recovery of the damaged ecosystem and marine life.
Q. What is the best time to visit Maya Bay?
A. The best time to visit Maya Bay is from November to April, when the weather is dry and sunny. However, December and January maybe very busy.