Maya Bay Reopening – Everything You Need To Know!

Maya Bay Reopening, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Maya Bay is one of Thailand’s most iconic attractions. For two decades, millions of tourists flocked to this idyllic beach. But in 2018, the rug was ripped out from under the travel industry when the bay was closed in order to protect it and allow time for nature to rejuvenate. 

Now, after being closed for more than three years, Maya Bay reopened on January 1st 2022. So here’s everything we know about the Maya Bay reopening! 


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Maya Bay Reopening

What is Maya Bay?

Maya Bay at its simplest is a small idyllic beach. It’s 250 metres long and 15 metres wide. It’s surrounded by steep limestone cliffs that stretch around the bay, almost encircling it. The sand is like talcum powder, the water is postcard-perfect and the plant life is a deep lush green. 

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Maya Bay played a starring role alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach, based on Alex Garland’s book by the same name. After the film’s release, Maya Bay’s popularity soared, eager travellers flocking to this strip of sand looking to experience the scenery for themselves. 

It’s easy to why visitors flock to Maya Bay!

Where is Maya Bay?

Maya Bay is situated in Hat Noppharat Tara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. It’s part of Phi Phi Leh, the smaller of the two Phi Phi islands. Phi Phi Leh is situated around 1.5km from Phi Phi Don which is the closest location to find accommodation options. 


Why Did Maya Bay Close?

Ever since appearing in Danny Boyle’s The Beach, Maya Bay became a victim of its own popularity. A victim of Hollywood. A victim of tourists. A victim of Instagram. A victim of tour companies. 

Essentially, a victim of profit. 

At its busiest, Maya Bay was receiving over 6000 visitors a day. Boats sliding onto the beach wore away the sand. Anchors destroyed an estimated 50-80% of the local coral. Rubbish was strewn along the sand and plants were destroyed by footsteps. 

The animals that could, left. The rest died. A population of monkeys arrived, knowing they could survive on the trash tourists left behind. They’d never need to leave the beach again. 

Maya Bay closed because sustainable tourism failed it. Click to Tweet
Longtail and speedboats moored on the beach at Maya Bay.
Boats wore away the beach and destroyed vast amounts of coral!

When Did Maya Bay Close?

In early 2018, national park officials sought to remedy the problem. They announced Maya Bay would close in June 2018 for four months. As October neared, it was clear that the four months hadn’t been sufficient time for the area to recover. This time, they closed the bay indefinitely.  

During the closure, sharks began to return and now frequent the area in huge numbers. Chicken crabs have been seen and even the rare Dugong has made an appearance. 

Teams rescued coral fragments from the seafloor, replanting it in nurseries throughout the bay. These will ensure a healthy coral population in the future, which in turn will bring more marine life back. 


Are There New Restrictions In Place At Maya Bay?

Yes. A lot. Boats will no longer be able to land on the beach. Instead, they’ll have to dock at the pier in Loh Samah Bay — the opposite side of the island to Maya Bay. From Loh Samah, visitors will walk along a series of raised boardwalks until they reach Maya Bay. The walk is expected to take around 10 minutes with the boardwalks preventing foot traffic on the actual island. 

Only 8 boats will be permitted to dock at once and hourly numbers will be reduced to around 300 visitors — they will all need permits from the marine national park authorities. 

Daily numbers will be limited to around 2000 people per day. While this still sounds like a lot, it’s nothing like the hoards of people that used to visit. At its busiest, over 6000 people a day were visiting Maya Bay. 

Expect fewer people, no boats and no swimming in Maya Bay from now on!

Swimming in Maya Bay will now be forbidden as it’s become a nursery for Blacktip Reef Sharks once more. 

Blacktip reef sharks are not generally dangerous to humans. They’re usually skittish but can attack if they feel provoked — however, there are no recorded cases of human death by Blacktip Reef Sharks. 

But it’s not for our safety that swimming has been forbidden. It’s for the good of the sharks. Their habitat has been destroyed by humans and pre The Beach, Maya Bay was a safe refuge for their young. As soon as the bay was closed, the sharks returned. 

It’s also thought there may be a new charge for visiting the bay, as well as the entry fee to visit the marine national park. 

Maya Bay Koh Phi Phi set to close April 2018
Maya Bay will be quieter and more relaxed in the future!

How To Get To Maya Bay

Getting to Maya Bay will be easy from Krabi, Koh Phi Phi Don and even Phuket. Look out for tour operators offering trips to the bay. 

For now, it looks like permits will be easy to come by and will be obtained through tour operators. 

Three longtail boats at Koh Phi Phi
Maya Bay isn’t the only stunning scenery near Koh Phi Phi Don!

Should We Still Visit Maya Bay?

Some travellers and locals have moral objections to people visiting Maya Bay again. And, when see what happened last time, can you blame them?

But the national park and Thai government appear determined to not let the destruction happen again. If the systems they’ve put in place work to prevent damage to the local environment, then visiting Maya Bay again should be perfectly fine. 

In fact, visitors and wildlife should have an even better time than before. The bay will be more beautiful than it’s been in decades. There will be more plants and wildlife — you may even get a chance to spot sharks from the beach! There will be no rubbish and far fewer people to share this paradise with. 

It’s likely to be more expensive than in previous years though. With fewer visitors, comes less profit for tour operators. As such, they’re likely to put their prices up. Likewise, there may be an extra fee from the national park to pay too. 

However, it is important to note this extra money will end up back in the local area. The money you pay a tour operator goes back to feeding their family and the money you give the national park will go directly back to protecting the area. 

If done properly, Maya Bay will be a shining example of how sustainable tourism benefits everyone, from tourists to locals, as well as the flora and fauna! 

Will you be visiting Maya Bay once it reopens? Let us know in the comments!

Tim Ashdown | Gear Specialist

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since then, he has travelled Southeast Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked South America. His first book, From Paralysis to Santiago, chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident and will be released later this year.

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