After a big reopening early in 2022, Krabi’s Maya Bay, at Phi Phi, is to temporarily close again on the 1st August for 2 months to allow time for the Thailand authorities to check the impact of the last few months of the bay being open, after allowing tourists back on to the beach, and also giving the bay time again to let the wildlife and environment breath.
Owner of 5 Star Marine Shaun Stenning and host of the 5 Star Marine YouTube Channel host Jay Leshark from Shark 13 Productions discuss the closure of Maya Bay as well as talk about other Phuket News stories and also talk about the Phuket Weather during the Low season, or Rainy season, or Green season. It has many names.
Maya Bay is the most notable “Beach” in the Phi Phi Island group, made famous by the 2000 film “The Beach’. The Beach is an adventure drama film directed by Danny Boyle, from a screenplay by John Hodge, based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Alex Garland. In the movie, Richard, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of an odd map that is rumored to lead to an island paradise. Accompanied by a few friends, he sets out to find it.
Since the reopening, almost 100,000 people have visited Maya Bay, bringing in over 20 million baht of income, according to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
Maya Bay’s 3-year closure was very successful at bringing back plant and animal species that had disappeared due to tourist overrun. The most notable animal to return to breed in the bay is the blacktip reef shark. In March, a park ranger told NPR that before the park closed, when there could be over 6,000 tourists a day, no one would ever think of seeing the local sharks. He said now, on a good day, 160 sharks can be seen.
Enjoy 5 Star Marine’s Phi Phi Island Private Boat Tour, where you and your select group of friends can experience the ultimate and iconic scenery on your very own luxury day trip. Discover this world-famous location in style, onboard a 5 Star Marine VIP and upgraded speedboat.
The renowned Bay reopened to day trippers earlier this year, on 1st Jan, after being completely closed to tourists for almost 3 ½ years (by order of The Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation).
However, for purposes of natural rehabilitation, Maya Bay will once again close for 2 months from August this year. However, fear not – this does not mean you cannot enjoy Maya Bay on your Phi Phi Island Private Boat Tour. As per the original closure period, you can still take in the beauty of the Bay from our private speedboats, yet you simply cannot walk on the actual beach during this short rehabilitation time.
Maya Bay still remains one of the most iconic areas you should visit on your Phi Phi Island Private Boat Tour; whether the beach is open to walk on or not.
5 Star Marine will ensure that you enjoy the beauty of Maya Bay, whilst practicing responsible tourism to help keep the area protected and allow it to continue regenerating; all this can be part of your Phi Phi Island Private Boat Tour.
The Marine Park have worked tirelessly to get Maya Bay back to its previous paradise condition; so, we ensure that our tours adhere to the new rules and help demonstrate respectful tourism.
Phi Phi Islands Private Tour Highlights
- Start your Phi Phi Island Private Boat Tour by heading to Maya Bay at Phi Phi Ley, where you can (August / September 2022) experience this beautiful and famous cove from the comfort of your 5 Star Marine speedboat.
- Cruise around to Loh Samah Bay; a small bay on the other side of Maya Bay which offers some beautiful marine life and makes for a good snorkelling stop.
- Enter into Pileh Lagoon to swim in the clear turquoise waters. Another famous stop on your Phi Phi Private Tour as this lagoon also featured in “The Beach” when Leonardo DiCaprio dived off into the stunning aquamarine waters.
- Explore Small Monkey Beach, where you can see these cheeky little creatures sitting on the karst rocks and relaxing on the beach.
- Your Phi Phi Island Private Boat Tour could take you to Wong Long Bay, which we can still access despite the narrow entrance.
- Enjoy a picnic lunch, including Thai sharing dishes that we can arrange for you (at an additional charge), on a sandy cove with shallow bay at Big Monkey Beach on Phi Phi Don.
- Experience snorkelling at Ao Nuoi and discover rich corals and marine life together with a picturesque beach setting.
- Complete your Phi Phi Islands Private Tour by taking in the beauty of Bamboo Island – a stunning setting, with shallow clear blue waters and a picturesque beach. Enjoy some snorkelling in this area and you might even spot a black tip reef shark.
Phi Phi Islands Private Tour Inclusions:
Our experienced captains and crew know just how to miss the crowds on your Phi Phi Island Private Boat Tour, so you can sit back and relax knowing you are in safe and capable hands.
During your tour you will get the chance to enjoy the stunning coral reefs around Phi Phi which are bursting with colourful marine life, as well as experiencing the natural beauty of the area. Take your time swimming and snorkelling in crystal clear tropical lagoons as our captains guide you around the area.
To book your Phi Phi Island Private Boat Tour:
+66 (0) 93720 6221
Experience stunning seascapes, tropical islands, and limestone karsts around Phuket and the surrounding islands in absolute comfort onboard one of 5 Star Marine’s Phuket Private Tours.
On your Phuket Private Tour, we will send a proposal with a suggested itinerary. Why do we say “suggested”? Well, when you arrive at the pier for your Phuket Private Tour, our experienced crew will talk through the plan for the day. They can make suggestions based on variables outside of our control such as the sea, wind condition, tide, etc.
The choice really is yours because when you book a Phuket Private Tour with us, you get to carve out your bespoke and unique itinerary with the help of our professional and knowledgeable guides. Enjoy your collaborated itinerary planning on the day, for a perfectly balanced experience.
On your Phuket Private Tour, you might select to explore hidden bays, canoe through caves, relax on deserted white beaches, experience exotic marine life in crystal clear waters or even adventure up to breathtakingly high viewpoints. When you book a Phuket Private Tour with 5 Star Marine, we are able to tailor a bespoke itinerary just for you on your day trip / multi-night tour.
You can pick from a range of exotic and stunning island locations on offer, or why not try our “Phuket By The Sea Tour” which is our unique Phuket Private Tour program that leaves from the 5 Star Marine pier in Boat Lagoon and travels under the Sarasin bridge before you could make your way down to Banana Beach past Surin, Kamala and Patong for example, stopping off at a few of Phuket’s top-class beach clubs.
Phuket Private Tour Destination Inspiration:
A few examples of exotic journeys you can make with 5 Star Marine on your own bespoke Phuket Private Tour:
- Phang Nga Bay to visit the infamous James Bond Island
- Phi Phi, including Maya Bay (which opened again to guests in January 2022) – the location of The Beach film
- Racha Islands soft white sandy beaches and abundant marine life
- Dolphin spotting at Koh Mai Ton
- Coral Island with full beach club, massage, and restaurant amenities at Banana Beach Club
- Krabi, Hong Krabi lagoon, and the 360-degree viewpoint
- Koh Ha and Ko Rok for something a little more exotic and lesser-known
- Easy to access and shallow snorkeling at the Khai Islands
- Tropical paradise in Koh Lipe
Your Very Own Phuket Private Tour
- Our crew will be dedicated entirely to you, your family, or friends on board; attending to your requirements for the ultimate Phuket Private Tour
- We can tailor a unique and customized program, to ensure the day exceeds your desires
- We are flexible on pick-up and drop-off locations to suit you (hotel, pier, beach, etc.)
- You can choose to remain at a lagoon or private beach for longer if you would like; you won’t have to fit in with a tour group timetable
- With a small and intimate group of people, you get the flexibility to make the day what you want
- You will get to discover hidden coves and caves that you will not experience on group tours
- We can organize a private beach picnic for your Phuket Private Tour
Phuket Private Tour Inclusions
We like to look after all our guests, so you can sit back and relax knowing that your Phuket Private Tour will include the following:
Explore the best destinations around Phuket, Krabi, Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay, and beyond in ultimate luxury, with your very own, bespoke Phuket Private Tour.
Contact us to book your Phuket Private Tour:
So, as we start to see trickles of tourism return to the island, we have been answering lots of questions from many of our 1st time bookers as well as our return guests. Let’s explore some of the most common questions we’ve been asked:
Q: What is the tour itinerary?
When you hire a private boat with 5 Star Marine, you get sent a proposal with a suggested itinerary. Now, we stress the ‘suggested’ part, and this is why; when you arrive at the pier for your private luxury tour, we will talk through the plan for the day. We make suggestions because there are variables outside of our control such as the sea, wind condition, tide, etc. Our concept is a joint idea between you and your guide on the day, for the best experience.
We take into account your requirements for your day out, and we apply the variables to come up with the best tour itinerary for the day. For example, if the tide is high on your Phi Phi private luxury tour date, we suggest you go to Phi Phi Ley first (explore Maya Bay, Pi Ley Lagoon, go snorkeling near the Viking cave), and then in the afternoon head over to Phi Phi Don.
However, on another day there will be low tide in the morning and high tide in the afternoon; therefore, the itinerary would need to change in order to see Maya Bay at its most beautiful, for example.
This is why the itinerary is suggested, not set in stone. We allow for you to add in more snorkeling stops if you please, and take your time; there are no set schedules of rushing for the next stop like you might experience on group tours.
Q: How long do we get for lunch?
The answer is simple, it is however long you want it to be. As it is a private boat, essentially the boat is yours and your captain and crew on the day are there to give you the ultimate day out so they will take into account your requirements and help guide you.
Q: Should we leave super early to avoid the crowds?
We are starting to see a slight uplift in tourism, and hope that towards December we will see further recovery.
We get asked a lot; how do we avoid the crowds? As a private boat hire you do have the option to go out early, however, this isn’t the only way to avoid the crowds. What we suggest is that we help you retime your tour.
Our experienced guides know that Maya Bay, for example, will be busy between 10 am -11 am but afterward, when the group tour boats leave to go for lunch you can take the opportunity to miss the crowds then. We might suggest you leave the pier at 10 am and get to Maya Bay at 11 am, as other group tours will go to lunch between 12:30-2:30 at Phi Phi Don, so you can find quieter spots by retiming – not necessarily by leaving super early or later.
Out teams know how to create better timings for the destinations, which we refer to as “reverse timing” so we are not following the group tour timings/program. With our private boats, you get the ultimate flexibility and privacy to allow for this.
Although there are now more crowds than during the peak of international shutdowns with Covid-19, there are still plenty of stunning and beautiful places to explore, so now is a great time to get out and see for yourself whilst tourism isn’t back at the same level as before.
Contact us to book your private tour:
After 20+ months of recovery time, the Phi Phi Islands has restored back to what it was 15+ years ago. In fact, I would say that it is looking better than I have ever seen it in the entire time I have been here in Phuket Island Hopping.
That’s why Jay and I feel so lucky to be taking you on tour with us to this beautiful destination. Add to that, this week had his family on board and FINALLY saw a SHARK.
Watch it all here:
We are excited to remain open for the entire Christmas and New Year period, and are looking forward to welcoming you on board for a tailor-made and festive private speedboat tour with us during this time!
Reflecting on the last 12 months, we would like to say a heartfelt THANK YOU for the level of support we received from all of our wonderfully loyal, local customers, who have helped us during the past 20 months. Without you, we would not still be operating as we are today, and for that our company, team, captains, and tour guides are immensely grateful.
As a company, we managed to take time to regroup and focus on reprioritizing our efforts, and this meant rolling up our sleeves and getting busy. We keep continuing to support the vulnerable communities and the people around us via our charity efforts, with 5 Star Marine involved in all packing and delivery efforts of essential food relief parcels and bags. We focused on the upside wherever we could see or create one. We wanted to look at where we could add value to our community and what we should be doing during this time.
Living Waters Phuket Foundation was born from this desire to help and continue to support our community; it was set up to build brighter futures for communities in need and provides financial grants for projects around relief areas including sustainable food security, education requirements, renewable energy, and environmental issues. We are excited to report that already in only 6 weeks, 4 major funded projects have been completed and many, many more have applied for funding and are undergoing our impartial review process for approval.
We were thrilled to see many new destinations open back up for our day tours, and now offer over 11 stunning destinations including the Similan Islands, Phi Phi, Racha, Phang Nga Bay, Coral Island, Krabi tours, Mai Ton Dolphin Spotting plus many more tailor-made options to ensure you had the perfect day out. We saw a rise in popularity of our dual tour to Phi Phi and James Bond Island which literally has something for everyone; plus, we are awaiting the much-anticipated opening of Maya Bay on 1st January 2022.
You can watch more on Maya Bay and Shaun’s personal thoughts here:
Our YouTube channel has gone from strength to strength and we appreciate all the love and support we are getting. If you haven’t done so already, please subscribe and follow here:
5 Star Marine was lucky to welcome so much interest and publicity from bloggers and news reporters – we are grateful for the coverage and interest in our community efforts. Chris Parker, (from Retired Working For You), joined to see our food packing and delivery efforts first hand to see exactly what goes on behind the scenes of each vital life bag.
We also gained and appreciate hugely the support of local and international media, including but not limited to:
During the last year, we also had a chance to more than double the size of our fleet; we now have 15 Private VIP Speedboats and a VIP Luxury Cruiser which is a proud extension to our current speedboat fleet and offers a truly unique experience on the water. In addition, to accommodate our growing fleet size, the domestic market support, and prepare for the return of international tourists, we moved piers and into a new office at Boat Lagoon, Phuket. We love our new glass-fronted office which has been a more welcoming environment for all our loyal VIP customers.
So, to wrap it up – it has been a year of highs and lows, of challenges and new opportunities. We are thankful, grateful, and happy to be where we are and we will continue to help those in the community who need it most; and will always be grateful to our loyal customers for making 2021 the year it was for us.
Shaun and the entire 5 Star Marine Team
Deciding which company to book a Phuket Private Boat Charter with, as well as which tropical paradise you want to explore for the day can lead to a confusing lineup of different options. To help you consider your choices, we have looked at some of the more important criteria to allow you to determine your perfect day out on a Phuket Private Boat Charter.
All of 5 Star Marine’s boats are fully crewed by experienced captains, tour guides, and crew members; so, you get to relax onboard your Phuket Private Boat Charter and enjoy their dedicated services.
Their experienced crew also knows how to miss the crowds and take you to some hidden gems you would not get to experience with other Phuket Private Boat Charter companies. Therefore, by selecting to go on a Phuket Private Boat Charter with 5 Star Marine, they can ensure that you get to discover paradise islands, coves, and viewpoints in the best possible conditions, with the least number of tourists.
Private Versus Group Tour:
When we talk about a Phuket private boat charter, what exactly does this mean versus a group speedboat charter? Here are just some of the benefits to going the private boat charter route:
- Captain and crew will be dedicated entirely to you, your family, or friends on board
- We are able to tailor-make excursions to the islands surrounding Phuket
- We can be flexible on pick up and drop off location (hotel, pier, beach, etc.)
- You will receive a unique and customized program that is tailored to suit your exact preferences
- We can be flexible on timing; it is your private boat charter after all!
- You can choose to remain at a lagoon or private beach for a longer period if you are enjoying yourself, you won’t have to fit in with a group timetable
- With a small and intimate group of people, you are close with, it is a more Covid-19 safe environment, with fewer people on board and more space to yourselves
- You will get to discover hidden coves and caves that you will not experience on group tours because time does not allow
- We can organize a private beach picnic for your small Phuket Private Boat Charter to enjoy
Safety Is THE Top Priority:
Since 2020, 5 Star Marine have run Phuket Private Boat Charter under their TAT SHA approved status. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) awarded this certification, and the TAT Safety and Health Administration Plus Certificate is proudly held by the company also.
As one of the first tourism services to gain TAT SHA Plus status in 2021, 5 Star Marine was recognized as adhering to public health measures regarding Covid-19 safety. This means that all guests can rest assured and feel safe and secure onboard a 5 Star Marine Phuket Private Boat Charter.
New Rules – No Problem:
It is of utmost importance that tour companies keep updated with the latest rules and regulations, which change frequently here in Thailand. So, here at 5 Star Marine, we do the hard work to understand how new regulations, closures, and new openings affect you getting out on the water.
Management and crew go out to newly opened locations to personally check the requirements for themselves. This means you can be 100% comfortable when you go out on your Phuket Private Boat Charter, knowing that 5 Star Marine’s knowledge of the rules is thoroughly up to date.
Flexible Cancellation Policy:
Payments for your Phuket Private Boat Charter can be made on the day, whereas some group tours take money in advance. 5 Star Marine do not take deposits so there is no need to worry about refunds or lost money if the weather turns poor. Obviously, we cross our fingers and toes for smooth seas and bright skies, but in the event that the tour date is predicted to be poor weather, 5 Star Marine will re-schedule with you.
To make sure you have the best time on your Phuket Private Boat Charter, 5 Star Marine add in a few little extras for your comfort and convenience during your private trip:
Phuket Private Boat Charter Inspiration:
- Take in the seascape views of the limestone karsts and caves in Phang Nga Bay, and visit the infamous James Bond Island
- Experience world-class snorkeling in the Similan Islands, potentially encountering manta rays, whale sharks, turtles, and a plethora of tropical fish
- Visit the caves, beaches, and island paradise around Phi Phi, including Maya Bay – the location of The Beach film starring Leonardo di Caprio
- Escape to white sandy beaches and enjoy quiet walks on Racha Island
- Try your luck spotting dolphins at Koh Mai Ton before heading to Coral Island to enjoy snorkeling and lunch at Banana Beach Club
- Visit Hong Krabi for a swim in the turquoise lagoon before getting your adrenaline pumping by climbing up to the 360-degree viewpoint
- Visit Koh Ha and Ko Rok if you are looking for something a little more exotic and lesser-known. These small islands are situated just south of Koh Lanta in the Mu Ko Lanta National Park.
Contact us to get out and explore, there are so many places to be discovered on your Phuket Private Boat Charter. We look forward to welcoming you on board for once-in-a-lifetime experiences with 5 Star Marine.
The Iconic Bay
Maya Bay is one of the most iconic areas in the Phi Phi islands, situated on Phi Phi Ley it was made famous after featuring in the 2000 movie, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation shut the bay down completely to tourists in June 2018, after staggering mass tourism destructed the coral life, reefs, and marine ecology.
Shaun Stenning, CEO of 5 Star Marine explains “Maya Bay needed to close because it was in a devastatingly poor state; with too many boats, oil in the water, and harmful reef destructions. The closure did not affect our tours to the area, we simply respected the closure and enjoyed the view of the bay from afar.”
At its peak, the bay welcomed far beyond what the area could cope with; seeing over 4,000 tourists and more than 200 boats each and every day resulting in devastating damage to the area. Although the actual Bay was closed off, it remained a popular location to take photos of from a distance or swim off to the side of the bay.
The Rehabilitation Project
Since the closure over 3.5 years ago, the Maya Bay area has been undergoing a rehabilitation project which has included planting new corals on the reefs over more than 4 acres in and around the bay. Parts of the beach have been regenerated, and protective walkways have been constructed.
The marine recovery during the pandemic has helped speed this along, with no tourists near the area at all, the water is much clearer and the corals have had a chance to regenerate with the added help of coral planting.
The Scheduled Reopening
Reopening is set for January 1st, 2022, as announced by the National Resources and Environment Minister. However, there will be new rules in place to preserve the rehabilitated beach and bay from another ecological ruin.
“I actually hoped that Maya Bay would keep closed forever, but we understand there is a need to rebuild tourism after the pandemic and the bay is being used for this purpose. I am hopeful that the tough restrictions on access are strongly enforced and total visitor numbers are capped per day at 1,000 maximum” said Shaun Stenning
Currently, Koh Phi Phi National Park is finalizing an improved piper to the island and defining the swim zones for visitors. There are expected to be new rules limiting opening times from 10 am – 4 pm each day; visitors will only be allowed to spend 1 hour in the designated swimming zones, and all boats will need to anchor at another bay on the other side of the island.
Let’s hope that the paradise it once was, and what the Marine Park have worked so hard to get Maya Bay back to will remain just that, and we will not abuse the natural beauty as we did before; this time adhering to the new rules and trying to respect nature far more.
This is one of our most popular VIP private speedboat day trips. This combination tour has a little something for everyone; from snorkeling with rich marine life, swimming in bright turquoise lagoons, seeing famous beaches and coves; to canoeing, spectacular karst rock seascapes, and of course the iconic James Bond Island.
Phi Phi is a particularly well know location in the Phuket region, with one of its iconic islands made famous after being featured in the 2000 movie, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. The Phi Phi Islands have some stunning coral reefs abound with marine life, ready to give you an unforgettable experience, swimming, and snorkeling in crystal clear tropical waters.
Whereas the second part of the day trip is to Phang Nga which is truly one of natures’ spectacular works of art; where the vast karst rock scenery presents a visually stunning location. This area is all about the seascapes, canoeing, caving, and exploring, versus the underwater scenery and beaches around Phi Phi.
With so much to do and see in just one day, we recommend touring from 8 am – 6 pm for the full experience. So, let’s take a look at a sample itinerary (please note all tours are private and fully customizable to your requirements):
- Depart from the 5 Star Marine pier in Boat Lagoon and head out towards Phi Phi. Make a stop at Maya Bay, the most notable “Beach” from the 2000 hit movie, on Phi Phi Leh. Although you cannot currently, walk on the beach, it is still a fantastic experience to visit this beautiful and famous cove and take photos from a distance or swim off to the side of the Bay.
- Head around to Loh Samah Bay, which is a small bay on the other side of Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh. It offers some beautiful marine life and therefore makes for a good snorkeling stop-off point.
- Enter into Pileh Lagoon and enjoy a swim in the clear turquoise waters. This lagoon also starred in “The Beach” featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, as a spot where he dived off into the aquamarine waters.
- Explore Small Monkey Beach, where you can see these cheeky little creatures sitting on the karst rocks and relaxing on the beach!
- Continue onto Wong Long Bay, which is only accessible to smaller boats due to the narrow entrance to a bay. Luckily our private speedboats can fit inside so you get the opportunity to have a quiet bay potentially all to yourselves.
- Move onto Big Monkey Beach on Phi Phi Don, which is a great place for a picnic lunch with a soft sand cove beach going into a shallow bay.
- Stop for some more snorkeling at Phi Phi Don at Ao Nuoi and discover rich corals and marine life together with a picturesque beach setting.
- Take in the beauty of Bamboo Island – a stunning setting, with shallow clear blue waters and a picturesque beach. Enjoy some snorkeling in this area and you might even spot a blacktip reef shark.
- Head towards Phang Nga Bay and enjoy some canoeing and exploring amongst the caves and rock formations.
- Make your way towards the iconic James Bond island, which became a major attraction after featuring in the 1974 Bond movie, The Man With The Golden Gun. Then get your Bond Instagram to pose ready as you stand in front of James Bond Island, (Khao Phing Kan); An internationally renowned destination since appearing as the hideout for Bond’s antagonist, Scaramanga.