• TravelGypsy

Maya Beach, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

If you have ever watched the movie "The Beach" with Leonardo Di Caprio, you will know Maya Beach. A beautiful secluded half moon shape bay with pristine white beaches and turquoise waters. If you have not been fortunate to visit, I'm sorry to say, I don't know when you will get the opportunity.

In a textbook case of 'over tourism' the Thai Government has extended its closure of Maya beach to tourists, stating "the ecosystem and the beach’s physical structure have not yet returned to its full condition” and have therefore closed it indefinitely. How very sad that it had to get to this point before something was done about it.

About 10 years ago Iwas fortunate to visit this beach and happened to hear from another traveller, that one restaurant had the permit to allow you to sleep on the beach overnight. Perhaps a bit risky as a solo traveller but I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, the price of the ticket included 'a bucket' which was a large mix of Thai spirits literally in a bucket. Not really being my scene I managed to make friends with a slightly older couple and we made a plan to sleep on the other side of the beach under the rock wall edge. The boatman kindly came and dug a hole in the sand to place a candle for light. It was literally one of the most beautiful nights, looking at the stars, with the warm breeze, listening to the waves.

Cut forward to the morning to being woken by the sounds of loud outboard motors from a long procession of local boats. This was my first real, in your face experience with over-tourism. It shows that without strict number controls, just how easily people can ruin the one thing they came all the way to see.

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