I know exactly what Leonardo DiCaprio is talking about in the movie when he speaks of never wanting to leave “The Beach”. Ever since I came here two years ago, I could not wait to get back.
The movie “The Beach” was shot just a few kilometres from where my beach bungalow is located, on Phi Phi Ley. I am located on Phi Phi Don, the main island. All of the resorts, hotels and bungalows are located on Phi Phi Don. To put it nicely, Phi Phi Don is a pile of crap. The beaches are lined with Longtail boats and the island is completely overrun by euro trash twenty-something backpackers that look like they gave up on bathing and personal hygiene months ago. So you must be wondering why I would ever want to come back to this grunge pit?
The first time I came to Phi Phi, I thought I had made a mistake when I got here. I thought there was no way they picked this dirty pile of crap to shoot a movie called the Beach. When I asked around, I found out the movie was shot in Maya bay, just a few kilometres south of here. It turns out, this place ended up being one of my favorite spots on the entire planet.
I had one purpose in the Phi Phi Islands this time around, to shoot the smaller surrounding Islands and get off the main island as fast as possible. They are such a contrast to the main island. They are peaceful, clean and completely untouched by the huge number of tourists that have been attracted by Leonardo DiCaprio’s time here.
Phi Phi Lay is only accessible by small boats and you can choose a traditional longtail boat ($15.00) or a modern speedboat ($45.00) as your mode of transport for the day. I chose the latter as it is much faster, safer and you get to see more of the islands in a single day. The day trip starts off giving you glimpse of the nicer parts of Phi Phi Don and you get to take a swim in an inlet completely surrounded by towering limestone. From there, it is off to Phi Phi Ley.
I can understand why the producers of the movie picked Maya Bay, it is gorgeous! As I stand on the beach, I try to imagine what the place looks like without any tourists. I shot countless frames in the hour I had in the bay. In the video below, you will get a quick look at the amazing location. I tried to shoot images that had little or no tourists in my frame that would spoil the shot.
After Maya Bay, the boat took me to Bamboo island. This is a great spot to shoot the longtail boats with nothing but the gorgeous, crystal clear turquoise water and a clear blue sky as a backdrop. Another hour of shooting in the blazing sun, but it was worth it!
As the day came very quickly to an end, there was one more amazing shot to be had. Every boat that was out for the day pulled into the area between the two islands to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. In fact, I think the sunset in Santorini, Greece is the only one I would rate higher than this one! Check out the images below, they are some of my favourite of my expedition so far.