Koh Phi Phi Lee & Maya Bay

Jun 20, 2014
I could spend hours trying to convince everyone that the movie The Beach wasn't the reason I so badly wanted to go to Maya Bay. I mean, it probably is a reason for many people to visit this beautiful bay and surely the movie made it more famous, but I actually wanted to see it for seeing it and not visiting 'the movie set'. Again, getting everyone on board about this idea wasn't the easiest task but somehow I managed to talk them into it and so we rented a private long-tail boat for the afternoon and off we went! The point was actually to go around the entire Phi Phi Lee, not just the Maya Bay, and making several stops for snorkelling on the way. 

So, was the Maya Bay an overcrowded tourist trap or the picturesque bay it once was? Well, I would say it was both, but I must say I now understand people saying it's not what it used to be or it's just a lame excuse for a paradise. All the long-tails and speedboats lined up on the beach with only a tiny area marked for swimming...and as a cherry on the top you need to pay a fee to get off your boat! I mean it definitely is a gorgeous bay to see (from your boat) but there's nothing magical or exciting once you get on the actual beach. 

Plenty of scenic spots along the way...

We stopped to snorkel around the entrance of the Maya Bay, which was already so much better- only very few boats around us. We then moved around the island to another bay where the water was so shallow that we could just watch the fish from the boat! On the other side of Phi Phi Lee there's a little "fjord" that was the prettiest place we saw all day; steep cliffs framing this little turquoise bay where during a low tide it's impossible to access the beach. Later on the way back we stopped at this cave where people actually live in- all kinds of installations were all over the rocks and we got greeted by this little boy who was avidly waving at us. Cavemen do exist? The nice day was sealed with a sunset as we approached the main island again... That was definitely a trip worth taking even with the overhyped Maya Bay. 

Maya Bay 

Loh Samah Bay

Divers' Paradise: Koh Bida Nai & Nok

Pi Ley "Fjord"

Sunset on Phi Phi Don

{All pictures © Voyages of Discovery}


Best way to get around Koh Phi Phi Lee and its bays is to rent a long-tail for some hours (2pm-6pm), from afternoon till sunset is a good choice. The driver will take you around the entire island making several stops in good snorkelling spots, and he's very flexible about the schedule.

I would not recommend to join a tour to Maya Bay- it's quite crowded and lacks the original mood. It's nicer to soak up the sun on your own boat and stop wherever there are less boats around! For a party of four, it's also quite cheap to rent the long-tail.


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