Koh Phi Phi Leh & Maya Bay

Everything You Need to Know About ‘The Beach’

Although inferior in size to its brother island Koh Phi Phi Don of the Koh Phi Phi islands, Koh Phi Phi Leh is famed for Maya Bay, the picturesque setting of Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2000 adventure drama film, ‘The Beach.’ 

Since then, loads of tourists have visited the island, who want to see its beauty in person, showcased in the famous film. More than a typical tourist destination, Koh Phi Phi Leh and Maya Bay offer more to those who get mystified by their tropical beauty and serenity. 

We’ll figuratively ‘dive in’ into this must-see paradise so that it’ll guide you once you literally dive into its pristine waters. 

All About Koh Phi Phi Leh

Koh Phi Phi

In actuality, Koh Phi Phi (pronounced as ‘pi-pi’) is composed of two (2) islands. The first one, and the largest (2), is called Koh Phi Phi Don. And the second, and the smallest of the two, is Koh Phi Phi Leh, which is currently uninhabited. 

Despite all the cargoes of tourists to land there, Koh Phi Phi Leh remains to look like a treasure island, a perfect island to shoot a movie; hence, ‘The Beach’ in 2000.

Koh Phi Phi Leh lies 1.5km. off Koh Phi Phi Don’s southernmost tip. This island showcases stunning vertical cliffs that are capped with green foliage. This majestic view (also check out the Phi Phi viewpoints) gives way to little sandy beaches and tropical coral seas. Most visitors find their way around on an organised Phi Phi boat tour. But, renting a long-tail boat is also a famous option if you prefer a customised trip.

Long-tail Boat Excursions

Visiting Koh Phi Phi Leh isn’t an “adventure,” if you think about it. All tourists worthy of the name usually do their workarounds in Koh Phi Phi Leh. These excursions are no expeditions, though. 

Whether the short or long version, chartered or private, in long-tail boat or speedboat, done in the morning or afternoon, excursions are sold by all agencies, all hotels and guesthouses of the island. You’ll surely love this remarkable landscape of spectacular karst cliffs.

When you finally approach Koh Phi Phi Leh in the bow of the long-tail boat’s axis, you’ll have that impression of discovery towards a mysterious island – inaccessible, lost in the ocean, and an illusion you’ll savour in complete delight.

Skyline So Beautiful

Saying Koh Phi Phi Leh is beautiful is an understatement, even from a distance’s glance. Before and after your trip, you’ll never get tired of photographing its one-of-a-kind silhouette that looms on the blue, stretching from the beaches of its brother island, Koh Phi Phi Don.

Contrary to popular belief, Koh Phi Phi Leh’s beaches are not so crowded despite its renowned reputation, which is quite a pleasant surprise. Even those places accessible on foot from the tourist village of Tonsai in Koh Phi Phi Don, you’ll still find a lot of areas for relaxing and taking pictures without fearing the rough, crowded feeling.

A Splash of Emerald Water

Once you’ve done and have experienced it, the ride to Koh Phi Phi Leh will forever haunt and invite you back to its ethereal beauty. Bathing in its emerald waters, to its coves and plagues that get dominated by stunning cliffs, you will surely want to go back again and again. Observe fishes of all shapes and sizes using palms-mask-snorkel, indeed taking full eyes, again.

Rock faces almost steeply plunging into its waters can be a tad dizzying. Its sight will always give you that same euphoric feeling, a bit exhilarating. But if you’re a frequent traveller, this discovery is not something new. 

You’ll surely be pleased but not jaded much to your expectation. This sensation, for sure, will never become dull, especially with Koh Phi Phi Leh’s grandeur. Enjoy swimming and snorkelling for a few minutes, prolonging your water recreation.

All About Maya Bay

Maya Bay

One of Thailand’s most famous beaches in Koh Phi Phi Leh is Maya Bay. This beautiful beach owes its fame to the movie, ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo DiCaprio as the leading role. Partly shot in 1999, this film captures the beautiful beaches of Koh Phi Phi Leh, catapulting it to the popularity that’s infinite in proportions.

Maya Bay gets sheltered by three (3) 100-metre-high cliffs, one on each of its sides. There are several small beaches within this bay, most of which exist only during a low tide. Maya Bay has become among the main tourist attractions of Koh Phi Phi since the ‘The Beach’ filming way back in 1999. 

Its main beach is roughly 200 metres long, stretching extravagantly with soft white sands, colourful coral species, and exotic fish varieties, all nestled in exceptionally clear waters. Basically, this whole bay is one huge reef, making the experience of snorkelling fun and popular activity for tourists to unravel.

Maya Bay – Neither a Secret nor Deserted

One last stop before the sunset would definitely be Maya Bay, aka THE Beach. Maya Bay has beautiful white sand beaches, defended by impressive cliffs at the bottom of a bay. A real-life movie beach, a sure experience of the Hollywood dream. But things could get worse.

Back in 2018, suffocated by “overtourism”, Maya Bay was closed by the Thai authorities to allow the regeneration of corals and the seabed, badly affected over the years. The explosion of tourism from China, in particular, is now a representation of nearly a third of visitors to Thailand, has not helped in these serious matters.

Thailand planned to reopen Maya Bay last year, 2021, but never genuinely initiated until January of this year due to the safety protocols brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. This reopening will limit the number of tourists for a given period to protect its ecosystems from being damaged again. 

Quotas are now effective, as seen and implemented in Sipadan, Malaysia. Then, this incident became an excellent initiative for both Thailand and Malaysia. Two (2) to three (2) months after its closure, the sharks in Maya Bay came back. 

From 5,000 tourists to about 60 sharks equate to a healthy ratio much needed by the islands of Koh Phi Phi to revert its natural beauty. The association Ocean Quest has begun replanting coral “cuttings” in the affected areas of Maya Bay. These cuttings are fixed in place to the glue, with success.

It’s Not Too Late

In particular, the reopening of Koh Phi Phi Leh, Maya Bay, gave new life to the tourism scene in Thailand immensely affected abruptly because of human negligence in essence. 

Let’s now be extra careful so that we can enjoy this majestic world-renowned beach for up to generations to come. Enjoy Koh Phi Phi Leh and Maya Bay, and have the time of your life.