Koh Phi Phi Day Trip

We'd heard Maya Bay and Maya Beach were crowded but had no idea what that actually meant. We found out.

Koh Phi Phi was not our first choice for a day trip. We booked a Hong Island trip but they had overbooked it and offered us this trip for the same price. As is was our second choice, we said fine. They were late picking us up but were responsive when I let them know. We picked up others in Krabi Town before heading to Ao Nang and the boat. We checked in at the beach and then walked over to the boat with our guide. We got a look at Chicken Island and other small rock islands as we headed out. 

Our first stop was Pi Leh lagoon which was beautiful and chock full of boats. Speedboats pull in and park and you have the option of transferring to a longtail boat in order to visit harder-to-reach spots. You pay separately for that in cash and the guide organizes it. We didn’t do that option. You can swim and snorkel near the boat. We didn’t see anything while snorkeling. This is also where one of our fellow passengers sat in the front of the boat blocking the scenery while playing with her phone. Situational awareness, people. You don’t have to enjoy the scenery; just sit somewhere else so the rest of us can. 

Our second stop was a drive by of the Viking cave for photos. You can’t see the Viking inscriptions from the boat. Then we went past Maya Beach to snorkel because Maya Beach was so busy. (That’s Maya Beach in the distance.)

We didn’t see many fish or any colorful coral while snorkeling. Speedboats and longtails park side by side along the roped off snorkeling area. That made it a little challenging to get to the snorkeling area. 

Then we got to the highlight of the trip: Maya Bay. Boats pull up to a bobbing, floating pier to unload passengers. You then make your way single file up stairs and through a narrow gorge. We were told to keep moving because if you slow down or stop for photos, everybody stops. Once through the gap there’s a narrow boardwalk that goes over to the beach.

The beach and the bay is beautiful. And everyone knows it. There’s no swimming or snorkeling allowed. 

THIS below is more the reality of Maya Bay. Hundreds of people jockeying for the best selfie and Instagram shots. If you’re a fan of the movie The Beach I suppose it’s worth it, but there are lots of beautiful places in Thailand. 

There are snacks and restrooms available though we were warned the bathrooms don’t get cleaned often due to the crowds. Leaving the bay requires coordination since only so many boats can dock at once. So everyone on your tour needs to meet up and get in the queue heading back to the boat. It’s tricky crossing that floating pier. 

After leaving Maya Bay we stopped for photos at Monkey Bay. No monkeys. Then we had a buffet lunch at Phi Phi Don. Seatings were organized around arriving boats. The foot was good not great, with decent variety. Our last stop was Bamboo Island. The beach was nice though the water was too rough to swim. It was a challenge getting back on the boat. 

Bamboo Island beach

We found the Sea Eagle trip well-organized and run. Our guide was fun yet kept us in line. It was a great crew overall, taking photos, helping, joking, making sure everyone was on the boat before heading out. Drop off was also smooth though we had to wait a bit for our songthaew to arrive. But it’s paradise only if you like crowds. Here’s a last look at Pi Leh lagoon.