One of Thailand's busiest and most photographed beach is set to close.
And yes, it's probably the exact one you're thinking of.
Thailand's Maya Bay, made famous by the movie "The Beach" starring Leonardo DiCaprio, won't be welcoming any new visitors in the near future due to over-tourism. The movie, which ironically depicts the story of a backpacker on his search for the perfect, untouched beach has, in turn, generated a mass of visitors to the exact location. As more and more people turn up to the popular filming spot, the pristine white sands have gradually turning into a chaotic sea of tourists and speedboats.
This bucket-list beach on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh attracts up to 5,000 visitors a day, with most tourists coming in by boat from either Phuket or Krabi. With so many visitors at the beach, the impact on the island's marine & wildlife has been substantial. Thai authorities have decided that a temporary closure of the beach will halt further environmental damages and buy the island some time to heal itself. As of June 1st to September 30th, 2018, which marks the start of the low season for the island, Maya Bay will be closed on the orders of Thailand's Department of National Parks as part of the rejuvenation program.
According to research, almost 80% of Thailand's coral reefs have been damaged due to beachfront hotels, boat anchors and plastic waste being discarded in the sea by incoming swarms of sightseeing tours. Because of this, boats will not be allowed to enter the bay in front of the beach, drop anchor or pass over any coral reefs during the four-month closure period. However, tourists and visitors can still take photos from the boats. There will also be a new limit of 2,000 visitors per day once the beach re-opens, and boats will no longer be allowed to anchor at the bay.
Thankfully, the one thing Thailand is not short on is beaches. If you have a trip coming up, this is the perfect change to get off the beaten path and see what else this beautiful country has to offer! Just make sure you don't make a movie about it like our friend Leo.