Thailand: Maya Beach (The Beach, Beach)

When I wake up and shower its nearly 11am, but I’m not the only one who’s sluggish today, so we all have a late breakfast. I’ve given up my hunt for breakfast sausage (for now) and order a ham and cheese croissant instead, which is good, and comes with a cute little French flag tooth picked into it. Adorable!

After breakfast Ilona and I go down to the beach, where I plan on going for a long swim. I love swimming in salt water because I never feel as tired and can half float, half tread water with ease. I try to get out into the water, but it never gets deep. I am up to my shins in water for almost 5 minutes out into the ocean. I can see people off in the distance who are swimming but they’re SO far away, not to mention that there are boats out there with them, which doesn’t appeal to me so I just end up walking back to the shore and join Ilona in sunbathing. We order two baileys over ice while we’re chilling out in the sun, and sip on them until the other girls come down to the beach. They’ve arranged for us to go visit Maya Beach (where they filmed The Beach, and ranked number one most beautiful in the world) for the afternoon. We leave at 2pm, which is approaching quickly, so we hurry back to the guesthouse to get our things together.

We walk down to where the boat is due to pick us up, and find out that we are not the only people who’ve decided to go on this little excursion. There are at least 50 other people waiting to get on an army of longboats that are all waiting for us, lined up on the shore. We get in a boat with 4 other people from the States, Sweden and England, and set off. Our first stop is to a monkey beach where tourists are able to feed monkeys bananas and take pictures. They give us 5 minutes to hop off the boat, snap a photo, and hop back on, so I choose not to go. I can see the monkeys from my boat, I’ve seen a million monkeys at this point, I don’t like the crowd, and don’t like the fact that these monkeys are tourist attractions in their natural habitat. Something about it just rubs me the wrong way so I just stay on the boat with everyone else who feels the same way.

After the monkey beach we drive by “The Viking Cave” which no one knows anything about. They slow the boat down for us to take pictures, but we don’t actually stop and we don’t get any information, I’d like to know WHY it is called the Viking Cave and why it’s significant, but our boat driver is too busy horking spit off the back of the boat to tell us anything, so I am forever in the dark. I shall Google it later, I suppose.

The next stop is much more appealing to me, we get to snorkel. I’ve never actually snorkeled before, only ever at camp in the murky lake water where there wasn’t much to see but muddy green plants growing up from the bottom. I’m excited to snorkel in an actual ocean! We anchor the boat (among 10 other boats, naturally) and dive into the clear blue water with our snorkel gear. The first thing I see when I put my face in, is a huge sea urchin at the bottom among countless different kinds of colourful fish. It takes me a couple tries to feel comfortable breathing underwater, and even when I get used to it I am breathing like a lunatic, but at least I can see all the cool fish!! We get 20 minutes to swim around in the clear blue water and explore the reef before we are called back to our boats to move onto the next stop.

The main attraction is Maya Beach, a small stretch of soft white sand and the most clear green-blue water you’ll ever see. It is protected from touristy shops and resorts by the fact that it is now a national park. Of course, when we arrive there are a billion other boats full of tourists who’ve come to see the beach, which takes away from its beauty. I hate tourists. I know that I am also a tourist, but I dislike all other tourists around me… we ruin things.

We get one hour to get out of the boat and visit the site, which is literally just a beach. We try to explore the jungle area behind it, but there is only a small trail leading to a rocky pond area next to the sea, so we stay there a couple minutes then turn around and go back. There is one tiny hut just behind the beach that sells beer, pop and chips. Beer here costs twice as much as it does back on Koh Phi Phi, which just makes me sad that they’ve found a way to exploit the tourists even in a national park. I’m really struggling with the tourist thing, if you can’t tell.
We walk down to the beach and talk about its similarities and differences to the movie. It was definitely a mistake to watch it two days before going to the site, because we all notice the things that have been changed, but none the less it is still the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. The sand feels like velvet beneath my toes and the water is so clear that I can see right down to the bottom even when I’m out to deep to actually touch it. The entire shore is encased by a circle of tall rocky cliffs all covered in greenery, with only a small opening between two of the cliffs out into the sea. Everything has been kept clean and there are trash bins everywhere (a novelty in Thailand) to encourage tourists to keep it that way. We all swim around in the water, along with the 4 other people who we met on our boat, until it’s time to go back to Ko Phi Phi. We watch the sun set from the water on our ride back, but unfortunately it isn’t as spectacular as you would think, because the sky is slightly overcast.

Back at the guesthouse, we get ready to go out for dinner then out to the beach bars. The party scene in Koh Phi Phi is insane, which doesn’t suit my taste as a constant occurrence but it’s fun for a night or two. We do all the same things we did last night because there isn’t much else to choose from. We visit some different bars along the main strip, go down to the beach to watch a fire show, and dance in the sand until the bars shut down.

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