MAYA BAY - 'THE BEACH'July 29, 2014
If you looked up paradise in the dictionary you would probably find a picture of Maya Bay. It's one of Mother Nature's most stunning creations and is considered to be within the top ten most beautiful places on the globe. It's a fine white sand bay with turquoise waters, all encased in a crescent of soaring limestone hills...but no written description could ever do this place any justice, its beauty really speaks for itself.
An aerial view of Maya Bay. Photo credit - Pinterest.
Maya Bay is located on Koh Phi Phi Leh Island in Southern Thailand. It's easily accessible by boat from all of the surrounding islands including Koh Phi Phi Don and Phuket. There are a plethora of companies offering half and full day tours of Maya Bay and other local areas of intrigue. The most popular way to get to Maya Bay is via a long-tail boat, although there's also the option of taking a private boat, speed boat or even a yacht. I went for a half day tour which cost 400-1000 baht (£10-£20) although it can be a lot more during the high season.
The Viking Cave
The first stop on the tour was the Viking Cave. It's no longer open for people to enter so we only got to briefly view it from the outside and take a few pictures. Its name is derived from the cave paintings that are within which depict Viking vessels. The cave is also the home of thousands of swifts. The swifts nests are harvested to make an expensive Chinese delicacy known as bird's nest soup. Bamboo scaffolding has been erected within the cave by the locals to enable them to harvest the nests.
Next we stopped for about half an hour to do some snorkeling amongst the schools of colourful tropical fish. South Thailand is a massive hotspot for underwater adventure, particularly around Phi Phi Island. I highly recommend doing some snorkeling or scuba diving if you visit.
The next stop was Maya Bay. Everyone aboard had to hold on tight because the journey was a rough and wet one!
Just a heads-up about the long-tail boats; people are dropped off a few meters from the shore so it's a good idea to wear clothes that you don't mind getting wet and be prepared to paddle. You do have to be quite strategic if you want to bring you phone or camera onto the shore with you without getting them wet. I would suggest hopping off the boat first and getting someone to hand your stuff down to you once you have found your footing in the water.
For many people, setting foot on Maya Bay is like a dream come true. It was certainly the case for me. Ever since I saw the film The Beach featuring Leonardo DiCaprio (one of my all-time favourite films) it has been right at the top of my travel list. When the sun is shining it really is as amazing in the flesh as how it was depicted in the film. The sand really is that white, the water really is that crystal clear, and the cliffs really are that vast. It's a place that would leave even the most jaded of beach goer waxing lyrical about its beauty.
As Maya Bay is one of the most beautiful and famous destinations in the world, it receives a lot of tourist footfall. It's an amazing place to experience but it's an experience that you will likely have to share with hundreds of other people.
Koh Phi Phi Leh is a National Park, meaning there are no restaurants, bars or accommodation on the island and it's only possible to take day trips to see it. The beach is only equipped with small pop up food stalls selling snacks and drinks. Its National Park status means that Maya Bay has been well preserved and is kept clean.
The weather was impeccably sunny with clear blue skies during my visit. I can imagine that Maya Bay would not shine with the same level of brilliance in overcast conditions.
Obligatory hot dog legs!
I'm an avid beach bum, so visiting one of the world's top beaches was a dream come true for me - especially as I've been lusting after visiting Maya Bay for as long as I can remember. It’s flawlessly stunning places like this that you may only need to experience once, but the memories stay with you for a lifetime.