The Beach is back! Thailand’s iconic Maya Bay which featured in Leonardo DiCaprio movie reopens after four-year break to let local coral rejuvenate

  • Maya Bay reopened on New Year’s Day after a long closure to help revive the coral reef system
  • It had previously been inundated with 5,000 tourists a day after becoming popularised in the 2000 film
  • It was only meant to be closed for four months but it was extended to help the coral grow 

The iconic Maya Bay in Thailand, the setting for The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has reopened to tourists after nearly four years.

The stunning cove welcomed back sun worshippers on New Year’s Day for the first time since June 2018 when it was closed as part of a rejuvenation programme.

It had been inundated with 5,000 tourists a day before authorities roped it off to help revive the coral reef system.

The iconic Maya Bay in Thailand, the setting for The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has reopened to tourists after nearly four years

The stunning cove welcomed back sun worshippers on New Year’s Day for the first time since June 2018 when it was closed as part of a rejuvenation programme

The beautiful bay is the setting for the 2000 film The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured), based on the 1996 novel of the same name

Under the new measures, boats are not allowed to enter the bay with drivers having to drop off passengers at a nearby pier and only eight speedboats are allowed to dock at one time.

Only one visit per hour is allowed and numbers are capped at 300 people per ’round’, from 10am to 4pm.

Maya Bay is an hour’s boat ride away from Phuket in Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park and is one of the two main Phi Phi islands in Krabi province.

The larger Phi Phi Don is a more accessible tourist destination offering budget accommodation, while the uninhabited Phi Phi Leh, home to Maya Bay, was only open to day trips.

During its closure, the coral reef was replanted and visitor facilities were expanded on the island, which is only 800ft long and 50ft wide. 

It had been inundated with 5,000 tourists a day before authorities roped it off to help revive the coral reef system

Under the new measures, boats are not allowed to enter the bay with drivers having to drop off passengers at a nearby pier and only eight speedboats are allowed to dock at one time

Only one visit per hour is allowed and numbers are capped at 300 people per ’round’, from 10am to 4pm

‘Maya Bay has been continuously receiving interest from tourists around the world. But this has also caused (the natural area) to deteriorate, especially the corals,’ said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-Archa in a statement.

‘After shutting down Maya Bay to revive and restore it, up until the present, it has returned to a good condition.’

The closure was originally meant to last for just four months but it was extended because of the need to replant the coral and expand tourist facilities. 

In 1999 the Krabi Provincial Administration Organisation, the Ao Nang Tambon Administration Organisation (TAO) and several environment groups filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox for the alleged damage caused to Maya Bay by the film The Beach. 

Maya Bay is an hour’s boat ride away from Phuket in Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park and is one of the two main Phi Phi islands in Krabi province

During its closure, the coral reef was replanted and visitor facilities were expanded on the island, which is only 800ft long and 50ft wide

The closure was originally meant to last for just four months but it was extended because of the need to replant the coral and expand tourist facilities

A Thai wildlife department officer wearing a face mask stands guard as tourists visit Maya Bay after Thailand reopened its world-famous beach

At the time Leonardo DiCaprio released a statement: ‘From what I see everything is okay. I have seen nothing that had been damaged in any way. 

‘I’ve seen Fox taking meticulous care, and their respect for the island. I consider myself an environmentalist. I believe that whenever we leave the island, it is going to be better off than it was before.’

The Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that orders were to be issued for damages, upholding a 2002 appeal court ruling that found filming had damaged Maya Beach.

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