Maya Bay will now remain closed to tourists indefinitely, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) has confirmed.
Although the original plan was to close the popular beach for four months, reopening on September 30, it has been decided that this was not sufficient for it recover from the effects of overcrowding. Substantial damage to the beach itself and the bay’s marine ecosystem remain.
“We have evaluated each month and found out that the ecological system was seriously destroyed from tourism of up to 5,000 people daily,” said DNP Director Songtam Suksawang. “It’s very difficult to remedy and rehabilitate because its beach was completely destroyed as well as the plants which cover it.”
It is not yet clear when Maya Bay will reopen to the public.
ORIGINAL STORY PUBLISHED 03/04/18:
The beach in Thailand made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio film ‘The Beach’ is due to close for four months.
Maya Beach, on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, will close between June and September in an attempt to stop environmental damage caused by tourists. It is hoped that the closure will allow the island’s coral reefs and sea life to recover.
It is not the only beach that will close: all marine parks in Thailand close from May to October – the country’s rainy season – to help counter the damaging effects of mass tourism, but this is the first time Maya Beach will not remain open.
“Islands have very fragile ecosystems that simply cannot handle so many people, pollution from boats and beachfront hotels,” Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine expert, told news agency Reuters.
When Maya Beach reopens at the beginning of the tourist high season, there will be a daily limit of 2,000 tourists, and boats will no longer be permitted to anchor there.
‘The Beach’, the film adaptation of the classic backpacker tome of the same name by Alex Garland, was released in 2000, and remains a travel movie favourite for many travellers. Despite the real life beach being very different to that seen on film – a gap in the mountains was closed using digital effects – it has become one of the most popular tourist spots in the country.
If you’re visiting in the next few months, don’t worry, there’s still plenty else to do – check out our 101 Things to Do in Thailand for inspiration.