There’s a good chance that if Leonardo DiCaprio has spent any considerable amount of time on a beach, it’s going to be a pretty sweet stretch of sand. Maya Bay is no exception to that rule. The 1991 film The Beach (starring DiCaprio) was partly filmed in Maya Bay, and while the film portrayed the beach as a secluded uninhabited stretch of land, plenty of tourists have found their way to this beautiful destination off the Phi Phi Islands. Let’s talk about the pros first: The beach is nestled in between sea cliffs that reach hundreds of feet into the blue sky. The sea cliffs surround the beach, and frame the view into the Andaman perfectly. There is a trail that leads back into a small forest behind the actual beach, and the lush natural landscape provides plenty of photo opportunities, and a shelter from the relentless sun. A snack shack is also on the island, and it sells chips, sodas, and beers, a perfect pick-me-up after a day spent playing in the surf and sun.
Now let’s talk about the cons of Maya Bay: Maya bay is extremely crowded. There is a small area to swim off the beach, crammed with so many people that it is difficult not to accidently back-stroke into someone. Alongside the heavy number of tourists, there is litter literally everywhere. I also found that Maya Bay is generally not a good spot to snorkel. With the large amounts of people, the beautiful schools of tropical fishes abundant off many of the other Phi Phi islands, like Mosquito Island and Bamboo Island, have swam far away to avoid the splashing tourists. Luckily the bathroom is tucked far back on the trail, because the lack of sanitation and odor from the restroom facilities are so foul, it could almost be considered a health risk. Finally, in order to get to Maya Bay, you have to take a boat. Since boating is the only way to get to Maya Bay, there are boats lining most of the beach, and in the water just off the sand. There is a small landing fee for tourists, but this is not unique to Maya Bay, all the Phi Phi Islands have a landing fee. I recommend getting a private longtail boat guide for around 800-1,000 baht for the day if you can afford it, if not you can go with a large group in a speedboat. The drawback to going on a speedboat however, is that you will have to stay at Maya Beach until your tour program is ready to head back, which can be several hours. When I went with my family, we were ready to leave after 40 minutes. In Conclusion… Maya Bay is a gorgeous location, but the experience is severely detracted from, due to the heavy amount of boats, tourists, and garbage floating around. If you can go on a private boat, I recommend checking it out for an hour, otherwise I would say Mosquito Island and Bamboo Island have far more rewarding beaches. ~ Happy Travels, Justin Ruhe