There is hardly a person who has not watched the legendary movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio, filmed at one of the most turquoise beaches in Thailand – Maya Bay and not wanting to visit this place? Well, it turns out that there is such person and that is me. Although I have visited this unique beach 3 times so far, I had never seen the movie until a few days ago, and this is the reason why I wrote these lines…
Maya Bay is a stunningly beautiful bay that is surrounded by over 100-meter cliffs on three sides. There are several beaches around the bay, most of which are small and some only exist at low tide. The main one is about 200 meters long, with silky soft white sand, colorful corals and exotic fish in the extremely clear water and the whole bay is one big reef.
The place has become a major tourist attraction because, as I mentioned, the movie “The Beach” was filmed here in 1999. The place has always been very popular even before the movie came out, but nowadays people around the world who haven’t even heard of the movie, at least have certainly heard of Maya Bay.
The best time to visit Maya Bay is between November and April – the high season when the seas are calm and the access to the bay is quite easy. Stormy seas from late May to October can sometimes block the access.
Because Maya Bay is such a beautiful and well-known place, there are a lot of motor boats that land thousands of tourists every day. Every day, at any given time you will see over 30 motor boats on the beach. It is definitely very beautiful, but not secluded! The last time I was there in 2018, I had the feeling that I was in China Town – wherever I turned, it was packed with people! Try to arrive early in the morning or after 17:00 and you will avoid the crowds.
For this reason, the bay will soon be closed for tourists until 2021, because its popularity has led to an environmental catastrophe. It results in severe erosion and loss of coral caused by water pollution from the motor boats.
It is good to know that if you want to visit the bay there is an entrance fee of 400 Baht. Normally, this price is included in the price of the tours that are being organized there.
The “beach” by Alex Garland is for young travelers who give up living in the society and go to live in a hidden lagoon in southern Thailand.
Fox Film Studio bought the rights to the book, signed a filming contract with Leonardo DiCaprio to play the lead role, and then began looking for a place to shoot the production. The perfect place turned turned out to be Maya Bay! Fox decided that the perfect beach needed fewer palm trees and less vegetation, so they rearranged the beach to fit the Hollywood stereotype.
Before that happening, environmentalists said that the removal of vegetation would increase the risk of sand erosion and that the delicate natural ecosystem could never be restored. Therefore, after the completion of the photos, the vegetation was replanted and additional bamboo fences were placed to maintain the dunes.
A year after the protests of environmentalists, during a tide and a strong storm, the dune collapsed, the sand flowed down the beach and killed some of the corals in the sea below. Fox decided to leave Maya Bay and stop filming there because the discontent was growing.
However, “The Beach” turned out to be one of the most successful films of 2000 and was cited by many tourists as the inspiration for their trip to Thailand.
There are not many facilities or attractions on the island itself. Drinks and snacks are sold in a small shacks behind the beach. There are toilets further from the beach, but believe me, you would only want to use them if you in deep need of doing so! The sleek hotels are missing here and a great camping option is offered. There are also no restaurants or grocery stores here – those who camp must bring their own supplies. It is not allowed to light a fire, but there are separate places for making a BBQ.
As long as you have more time, I recommend snorkeling and diving! Here you can see large reefs and many corals, and the brightly colored fish are numerous. Visibility is excellent. Many travel agents offer tours here only for snorkeling. Sea kayaking is also popular.
The place is quite impressive and beautiful, but because of the thousands of tourists it has somehow lost its charm and grandeur! The first time I visited this beach in 2015, I literally fell in love with it, but it was calm then, not so crowded and you could enjoy it in peace. Upon my leaving there, I left a part of my heart… a part that I could not find on my next visits!
This post is also available in: Български (Bulgarian)