This week we have a special guest post by LeAnna from www.economicalexcursionists.com. LeAnna and her husband Travel Hack their way around the world and are now living in Europe. In this article LeAnna shares about their once in a lifetime experience at The Beach in Maya Bay, Thailand. We want to go!
Take us away LeAnna…
Living Life by a Bucket List
I am convinced that there are few places on Earth more stunning than The Beach.
THE BEACH! Come on, you know the one! The one where Leonardo DeCaprio finds a map while in Thailand that leads him to a mystery-shrouded, utopian society on The Beach.
Ok, only Hollywood may call Maya Bay, which is a short boat’s ride off of the main Koh Phi Phi island in Thailand, just, “The Beach.” But this little piece of heaven doesn’t need much description or introduction. One look at the tiny, uninhabited island and it is no wonder why Leo and his crew decided to use Maya as the set of “The Beach.”
Unfortunately, since the filming of the movie, the island and now preserved national park has taken on a tourist life of its own. If you go during the day, you’ll have to battle for a small section of sand and will have to share the small cove filled with the most beautiful blue and green waters with hundreds of other beach goers. But the fact that even despite the hordes of people, it is still a site to behold says a lot about just how stunning this piece of paradise really is.
After watching the movie and seeing even just a few pictures from the trusty Google, there was no question whether going to Maya Bay was going to be on our itinerary while at Koh Phi Phi. However, I like my personal space and didn’t want to share my experience with all those other people.
This was when I stumbled upon Maya Bay Tours.
Now, before I explain, I have to say that I have a small “Bucket list” of things I want accomplish, see or do in life. These usually aren’t places, but instead actual experiences. Going Zorbing in New Zealand (check!) or go to and participate in a nude beach (awkwardly, check!). Another one of these items was to swim at night in the ocean with Phytoplankton. You can actually see this phenomenon in the movie, “The Beach”, but I didn’t realize that that portion of the film was actually based off of reality!
The excursion included a night full of activities including snorkeling in crystal clear coves, a BBQ on the beach, spending the night under the stars, breakfast on the boat, hilarious games to break the ice with the other travelers and yes, you guessed it; swimming in the phytoplankton rich waters at night.
At almost $85 per person, the cost of the excursion was way over our usual penny pinching budget. There are few things that we’ll actually spend big on, but since it came down to a bucket list item, I was able to justify the splurge. And I am thankful I did because it was one of the most memorable and magical nights of my life!
The excursion started with a boat ride out to the island, Ko Phi Phi Leh. Along the way, we sailed passed a Vikings Cave (The Swallows Bird Nest Cave) to learn about the fabled history of the cave as well as the current Chinese bird Swallow industry.
We then stopped in a cove where, if we didn’t know any better, we might have thought we were the only ones on the planet. It was just our group, the colorful fish and the sheer cliffs surrounding us. We could snorkel, jump off the boat roof, kayak or just take in the beauty of the island.
We then headed into Maya Bay. Our boat anchored just before heading into the bay so that we could see all the people packed onto the beach, but still were close enough to view the bay in all its glory. Once again, we hopped in the clear waters and snorkeled with the friendly fish and then watched as all the tourists started to leave, boat by boat, for the day, leaving only ours left floating by itself in the peaceful, isolated bay.
As a national park, the island technically “closes” for the night. Unless you are with this specific excursion, no tourists are allowed to stay on the island overnight. So, by the time we were tendered onto the beach, it was only our small group just in time to watch the sun dip slowly into the ocean in front of us.
As the advertisements promised, we indulged on an amazing Thai BBQ on the beach, played hilarious games appropriate only for adults and then spent the evening next to a bonfire as our guide strummed on his guitar under the moonlight, us humming along.
As the night enveloped us, we were taken back to our boat. We could already see the water start to sparkle as the phytoplankton came to life against the movement of the small dinghies cruising in the water.
At the boat, we jumped into, what looked like pitch black waters. However, with even just a slight movement of the hand of flutter kick of the feet, the waters burst into flashes of white. Hundreds of thousands of phytoplankton swirled around in the dark waters making it look as if you were literally swimming in a sea of diamonds. I have never experienced something so magical and surreal.
While I could have stayed in those warm, sparkling waters all night, we were eventually told it was time to turn in.
As we fell asleep on the swaying boat dock under the clear night’s sky, I was reminded, yet again, that travel is not always about a checklist of places to see. Instead it is about living every moment as if it was your bucket list.
Beyond the Taj Mahal: http://www.economicalexcursionists.com/things-to-do-in-agra/#.VdB0iPmqqko15 Ways to Pinch Pennies for Future Travel: http://www.economicalexcursionists.com/save-for-a-vacation/#.VdB0ivmqqko
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What experiences or places are on your bucket list? Do you even have a bucket list? Let us know in the comments!
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