Maya Bay became famous as the star in the Hollywood film and was hounded by its version of paparazzi. Now, this once secluded beach in Thailand is closed to tourists because its corals are damaged due to overtourism.

Maya Bay is the setting of Oscar winner Leonardo di Caprio's 2000 film "The Beach." It is part of the Krabi province and is close to another popular beach destination, the Phi Phi Don. The beach is a stark contrast to what was depicted in the movie: serene, empty, and unspoiled.

Millions of beachgoers and tourists flocked to the island close to two decades after it became world-famous. Before the announcement of its closure, over 100 boats carrying hundreds of tourists are crammed along the shores of Maya Beach on ordinary days. The numbers could double during peak season which is between November and April. The beach hosted around 3,000-5,000 visitors a day mostly coming from nearby Phuket and Krabi islands.

Rehabilitation Of Maya Bay

It is off-limits to visitors for four months for rehabilitation starting from June 1 to Sept. 30, 2018, following the orders from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. DNP usually closes marine parks at certain times of the year, usually around May to October where there were fewer travelers. However, Maya Beach remained open to meet the demands of tourists.

"During the four-month period, the DNP will undertake a coastal and marine environment quality evaluation study on the condition of reef and beach resources, environmental control and tourism management," says the statement issued by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. "This is to properly determine measures for environmental sustainability of Maya Bay during future off-tourist seasons."

The amount of trash, which are mainly made of plastics, contributed significantly to the damage of the surrounding areas.

The statement also says boats cannot come near the beach or even stay at Loh Samah Bay, a part of the tiny Ko Phi Phi Leh island, where Maya Cove is also a part of.

Supervised Visits

While travelers cannot set foot on the popular destination, they will still be able to admire it from afar, about 400 meters or 1,300 feet away. The closest they could get, however, is by boat visits, in close supervision of tourists, to the two iconic cliffs near the lagoon.

Maya Bay has been consistently in the spotlight. But lately, its deterioration has been all over the news signaling the abuse it has suffered over the years.

Environmentalists and passionate locals have been pushing for its rehabilitation for years. Tourism officials and private companies have thrown in their support for these rejuvenation efforts in the wake of the closure of another world-famous beach in the Philippines — Boracay. The latter was ordered closed for six months starting in April to clean the once-pristine waters from wastes, which came from the hundreds of establishments in the island.