16 May 2019
Thailand’s Department of National Parks (DNP) have extended the closure of Maya Bay until at least 2021. Located on the uninhabited island of Phi Phi Leh, Maya Bay is famous as one of the main locations used for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach.
Update: Maya Bay reopened in January 2022
Find out how to get there and the best time to visit
The popular tourist attraction was closed to the public in June 2018 because of the damaging effects of over-tourism. With up to 5,000 visitors a day flocking to Maya Bay, corals were damaged and the beach was transformed into one big selfie zone. Although tourists hoping to visit Maya Bay will be disappointed, there are already positive signs that marine life is returning. Blacktip reef sharks have been seen swimming in the bay and park officials say other rare marine life is starting to appear in the waters.
The neighbouring island of Phi Phi Don is where many tourists decide to stay when visiting the area and this remains open as usual.
Local tour operators continue to complain about the extended closure of Maya Bay and the impact on their earnings, but environmentalists are delighted with the decision. When Maya Bay does reopen to tourists, boat operators will be subject to tighter regulations. There will also be a limit on the number of daily visitors allowed. The closure of Maya Bay is one of a number of eco-friendly initiatives in Thailand including a plastic ban at National Parks and the introduction of an online ticketing system to limit the number of daily visitors to Thailand’s National Marine Parks.