Maya Bay, Thailand - aka 'the beach'

Saturday, July 26, 2014

While in Thailand last month hubby and I did a day trip out to Maya Bay, also known as 'The Beach' from the famous 2000 film staring Leonardo Dicaprio. This famous movie was based on the book by Alex Garland (which is a great read by the way!).

You hope, and you dream
and you never believe that something's gonna happen for real
A man dies...
leaves you a mystery map to a secret island
and your life is different
It won't ever be the same again
- Alex Garland, The beach

Maya Bay, Thailand - our first glimpse of the beach
Maya Bay, Thailand - our first glimpse of the beach

As we rounded the corner of Ko Phi Phi Lee Island and took in our first glimpse of Maya Bay - and it looked to be every bit 'The Beach' paradise we had been promised...

... a circle of towering cliffs enclosed the sheltered bay, powdery white sand, sparkling green/blue crystal clear water, and the sun reflecting the sky back into our eyes...

Maya Bay Thailand, aka The Beach

If we had been the only people visiting Maya Bay then it would have been paradise. Absolute paradise...

...but since The Beach was filmed here in 1999, and Leo graced these silky shores, the daily reality of Maya Bay is actually a bit more like this... tourists everywhere!

The real Maya Bay Thailand, aka The Beach

There were so many boats, that there was not a single place in Maya Bay where you could safely swim. And all of them were pumping fuel into the water (it smelt like we were at a gas/petrol station).

There were so many people that, well it was bloody noisy, and not relaxing at all. Here's a short clip my hubby took while we were there. Unfortunately this is the real Maya Bay paradise experience for the majority of people that visit 'the beach' these days...

Now before you get too disheartened, I did met some lovely people on holiday at our resort who had paid a bit more to visit Maya Bay first thing in the morning (at about 6am). They had 'the beach' to themselves for almost an hour before the other boats started arriving. So, if it's your hearts desire to really see Maya Bay at it's best get in early! We arrived at about 9am and as you can see it was extremely busy by then.

From 'the beach' you can take a two minute stroll inland to where the camp was supposedly set up in The Beach Movie...

'The Beach' or Maya Bay Thailand

...and the path leads up to a small look out over another gorgeous lagoon. I think this is the spot in the movie where Leo and his French mates jump over the cliffs to reach the camp. In acutual fact it's a pretty sweet spot for snorkelling.

'The Beach' or Maya Bay Thailand

'The Beach' or Maya Bay Thailand

Tired of the noise, and our illusions of 'paradise' shattered (owwwww) we left Maya Bay, aka The Beach in search of quieter waters.

Ko Phi Phi Lee, Thailand

Hopefully I haven't put you off visiting Maya Bay. It is a naturally beautiful spot. You just need to get there super early to enjoy it!

If I'd learnt one thing from travelling, 
it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. 
Don't talk about going to Borneo. 
Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens. 
― Alex Garland, The Beach

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  1. It's so disappointing to know that it isn't the paradise we think it is! At least you enjoyed yourself though :)

    1. Well it would be paradise - if there was no-one else there! But I think those quiet days in Maya Bay are long gone.

  2. How disappointing that it's so busy! There is a terrible side to tourism sometimes! From afar it looked so gorgeous like it would be amazing to swim there though! I force myself to think that there must be other islands!

    1. No doubt there are many other gorgeous places that are 'undiscovered' or just less popular. It would have been amazing swimming if there hadn't been so many boats, but at the time we were there no one was able to really get in the water.

  3. I went there this year too and thought exactly the same. It's such a shame! I did love the inland bit though and you could definitely see the potential beauty! xx

  4. The first couple of photos make it looks so beautiful and calm, then I watched the short clip and my vision of the island changed completely! Such a shame that it was so crowded!

    1. It's always a shock when reality turns up while on holiday. I never thought in a million years it would be so busy. We visited in the off season as well!