Thailand’s Famous Maya Beach Has Closed To Tourists

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Maya Beach in Thailand, made famous by the 2000 movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio, has officially closed to tourists

One of the most popular places to visit in the backpacker haven of Thailand has to be Maya Beach. It’s located on the small island of Koh Phi Phi Ley in the south of the country. Since 2000 when the movie was released it has grown in popularity to the point of bursting, which has ultimately lead to its downfall.

Maya Beach lived up to its potential of becoming the perfect location to represent Alex Garland’s vision of an idyllic island paradise in his novel. As a result droves of backpackers have wanted to follow in the footsteps of the main character, Richard played by Leo in the movie, and experience what the beach has to offer for themselves.

Even now, 18 years after the release of the movie, 5000 people per day visit the white sandy tropical beach. It’s popularity hasn’t all been positive for the location and it’s now closed to tourists due to environmental concerns.

The beach isn’t so much a secluded paradise these days but more a tourist trap than anything else. Credit: Weenie Dog

The main reason given for completely closing the popular beach is that the surrounding coral reefs are being damaged at a faster rate than they can grow back thanks to the fact you have to take a boat to get there. Officials say the closure is only temporary though (June – September) and that it should give them enough time to get the area back in good shape and allow the coral to repair a lot of the damage.

As Thailand relies so heavily on tourism you can be sure that the closure will be temporary and not permanent. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is still open for debate.

Longtail boats are one of the most common ways to get to Maya Beach. Their propellers are one of the main causes of damage to the surrounding coral reefs. Credit: Diego Delso

With more and more companies offering overnight camping trips on the beach where drinking and partying are a common theme, will being closed for 3 months be enough to save this one pristine environment?

Featured image credit: Peter Reid