As our four weeks in Thailand draws to a close, we look back and realize how excited we were to “take a vacation from traveling.” Quite honestly, I would have been content just catching up on outstanding tasks, relaxing on the beach and taking leisurely swims in the pool. However, Kevin thought we might regret not making a trip to explore some of the nearby islands.
A few people that we met while in Thailand had taken a day trip to visit some of the islands, including Phi Phi and James Bond island. After some research and a few inquiries, Kevin booked us on a full day trip to Phi Phi that included snorkeling and a stop at Maya Beach (on Phi Phi) which was popularized by a movie (The Beach starring Leonardo DeCaprio).
Although our tour guide assured us that our late arrival to the island would allow us to miss the crowds, we soon learned that we’d be sharing the experience with a few hundred other people from more than 20 other boats operated by other tour companies. Although the scenery and beach was beautiful, it felt anything but serene. All it was was overcrowded and overrated.
Bumper Boats at Maya Beach
Phi Phi Island and its Maya Beach were the last stops of the day on our tour. As we approached the island, there were a wall of boats anchored to the shore. There appeared to be no room for another boat. However, the captain of our boat turned us around and started backing up towards the line of docked boats. As we neared them, the crew on our boat, in tandem with the crews from the other boats, helped guide us into a small gap and literally squeeze in between two other boats. Amazing. I had never witnessed anything like it.
Although the route we took was crowded—even our boat was full of nearly 40 people—we enjoyed the day on the crystal blue and turquoise water and gained a better appreciation for the beauty Thailand’s beaches offer. We’d just prefer a little bit of solitude to go along with the view.
Ways to Avoid the Crowds at Phi Phi
On our way back to our hotel, the manager of the tour company told us that everyone wants to see Phi Phi because of the movie. She continued to say there are plenty of other islands that are just as beautiful but far less crowded. She’s forced to offer the Phi Phi itinerary because of the demand, but she’s also able to offer more personal itineraries and would be happy to suggest and plan an itinerary for anyone to visit the less crowded islands. So, all you have to do is ask.
There are also some tour companies that offer sunrise tours to Phi Phi which can lessen the crowds as well, but these small operators often fill up months in advance. So, perhaps the best way to avoid the crowds at Phi Phi is to skip it altogether! The next time we visit Thailand, we’ll definitely seek out some of those lesser known islands!