Maya Bay is a stunningly beautiful bay that’s sheltered by 100-metre high cliffs on three sides. Inside the bay there are several beaches, most are small and some only exist at low tide. The main one is around 200 metres long with silky soft white sand, underwater colourful coral and exotic fish in exceptionally clear water; the whole bay is one big reef.
Maya Bay has become the main tourist attraction of Phi Phi since The Beach was filmed here in 1999. It was always very popular before the film but now people around the world who haven’t even heard of Phi Phi have certainly heard of Maya Bay.
The best time to visit Maya Bay is between November and April during the high season when seas are calm and access to the bay is easy. Rough seas from May to October may hinder access but rarely deny entry.
The bad news; as it’s so beautiful and so well known many boats are required to ferry all the visitors in and out. On any given day at any time there will be 30 + speedboats and longtail boats on the beach, with large ferry boats carrying hundreds of snorkelers and sightseers moored in deeper water. Beautiful it is, secluded it isn’t – thousands of people visit each day. Try to visit early in the morning or after 17:00 and you’ll avoid the crowds. Snorkeling and diving are excellent throughout the bay, large underwater boulders are encrusted with coral and brightly coloured fish are numerous. Visibility is excellent. Many tour companies bring visitors here to snorkel from Phuket, Krabi and Phi Phi Don.
Sea kayaking is also popular. Kayaking tour boats come into the bay and moor while letting clients explore.
Tour shops in Phi Phi Don have begun to advertise organised camping on ‘The Beach’, drinking is usually part of the fun. Currently camping is only permitted on alternate nights.
Phi Phi Leh is an uninhabited island that lies 1.5km off the southernmost tip of Phi Phi Don. Stunning vertical cliffs capped with green foliage give way to small sandy beaches and tropical coral seas. Most visitors find their way around Phi Phi Leh on an organised Phi Phi boat tour. Loh Sama (Sama Bay)
Located on the south side of the island the only activity here is snorkeling which is excellent for discovering beautiful coral and tropical fish. Boats anchor in the shallow waters, swimmers feed fish and snorkel.
You can get to Maya Bay from here at low tide via a small hole through a cliff about one metre high and sometimes when the sea is rough from May to October this is the only way to get into Maya Bay.
Pi Leh Bay
Pi Leh Bay is on the west coast, the opposite side of the island to Maya Bay. Similar to Maya Bay, it has 100m vertical cliffs rising from the water. Most of the bay is in shade except at midday.
This long thin bay is pretty shallow and is only accessible to speedboats and longtails, it does not dry out at low tide and there is a very small beach right at the back that you can just glimpse if you’re passing.
Very beautiful and excellent for swimming. At the entrance there are excellent snorkeling opportunities.
Just to the north of Pi Leh Bay is the Viking Cave where swifts make their nests. There are some paintings on the walls of boats resembling Viking ships that are supposed to be ancient however they’re more likely to be just a couple of hundred years old… if that. However, the Viking tag has stuck.
The nests are made by the birds from their saliva and harvested from February to April by locals who use rickety bamboo scaffolding to get up to them once the birds have finished nesting. The nests sell for many thousands of dollars per kilo and are used for the Chinese delicacy bird’s nest soup.