Kayaking from Phi Phi Don to Maya Bay- (Phi Phi Leh Island)

We really wanted to visit Maya Bay (The Beach from the film ‘The Beach’), on Phi Phi Leh Island. This is a very popular beach to go to, because of popularity since the film. We knew it was going to be busy so we wanted to find the best way and time to visit. From Phi Phi Don you can go over on a day tour with a ferry or long boat. We didn’t like the thought of going on a big ferry with loads of tourists and being told when to leave. Most of the boat trips only take you to Maya Bay for about 1 hour, unless you take a private taxi boat. The tour or private taxi boat costs about 500 BAHT per person.

We decided to read up about Kayaking over to Maya Bay. It didn’t look too far from Phi Phi Don, but this is hard to tell when you are just looking across the sea. We read about a couple of people who had kayaked around Maya Bay, but they used a long boat to get their Kayak there. They mentioned that if you were a strong Kayaker, that you would probably be ok Kayaking back from Maya Bay, to Phi Phi Don. Does Kayaking for one day make me an expert? Other than that we didn’t find any mention of kayaking across from Phi Phi Don to Phi Phi Leh. Still we decided to go ahead.

So we set out on April 1st 2010 at 10.30am to find a kayak. We went to Ton Sai Bay, as this faces Phi Phi Leh. We rented out our Kayak for the day, for £10. We were given a dry bag to put all our things into. Once we were all set we set off. Everything was going well; we left the safety and calmness of Ton Sai Bay, and headed into the open Indian Ocean, heading towards Phi Phi Leh. We immediately noticed how much rougher the sea was and we could feel the wind starting to pick up. When looking ahead you think the sea looks so calm, but once you have left the shelter of the cliffs and walls, the ocean takes control of you! We needed to use a lot more strength to keep up, as the winds became stronger. 

Our route from Ton Sai Bay- Maya Bay

Our route from Ton Sai Bay- Maya Bay

Once we hit the corner of Phi Phi Leh, we kept in by the side of the cliffs, but not too close, as we were afraid that the winds could push us up against the rocks. This seemed to be more sheltered. I felt a lot safer now that we were by the side of the Island and out of the open Ocean. Long Boats and big ships kept passing us, with their passengers waving. In fact we saw the same boats passing us again on their way back from Maya Bay, still waving. We kept strong, determined to make it! We finally could see the boats turning, which meant we must be close. As we started to turn into Maya Bay, the waves from the other ships entering pushed us from behind, which gave us a nice break from Kayaking.

Arriving at Maya Bay felt amazing. The bay is more beautiful and stunning, as you could imagine! Just block out all the other tourists and big ships and you will be in heaven! We pulled up in our Kayak and people were smiling and starring at our Kayak, pointing at it. They probably thought we were crazy, well they were right! We made though and that’s the main thing! The great thing from now was, we didn’t have to rush off, and we could enjoy the beauty of Maya Bay, for as long as we wanted.

Ruth on Maya Bay

Ruth on Maya Bay

So many tourists visit each day, but if you arrive early or after 4pm it does get a lot quieter. We arrived at Maya Bay around 12pm, taking us around 1 ½ hours to Kayak over. It was very busy at this time, but around 3pm it got quieter, allowing us some quite time on the beach! We went walking around the bay for a bit. There is another small bay that you can see if you walk further in land. There is a ladder that we had to climb over, to get to this bay. We noticed a hole in the wall here, which would allow you to push your Kayak through. This is a quick way to the back of the Island. It also may help you leave Maya Bay, if the sea was very rough.

There is a small shack that sells drinks and snacks. Be prepared to pay double the price from Main Land. There is also a toilet. If you also want, there are camping trips to Maya Bay. This can be organised from Phi Phi Don.

The beach is really heavenly and it is no wander it was chosen for the film ‘The Beach’. The large limestone rocks make a beautiful back drop. If only we could of discovered this beach and kept it for ourselves.

We decided to leave Maya Bay around 4.30pm, giving us plenty time to get back before sunset. Just as we left Maya Bay, the winds were very strong, making it more difficult to make head way. Once we got round the bend, it became a little easier. The journey back was a lot harder than the journey to Maya Bay. One thing you can’t control is nature. All you can do is stay calm and do your best to stay on course.

We made it back! Taking us around 1 ½ hours to return. We had a fantastic time at Maya Bay, but we were glad to be back on land! The guy who we rented the Kayak from, asked us how our day was. We told him we had kayaked to Maya Bay. He looked shocked and was laughing telling his friends where we had been. Maybe he will use it as a selling point from now on! Kayak to Maya Bay! I guess it is not a popular thing to do, seen as we were the only Kayak on the island!

Although this isn’t for everybody and I would certainly not recommend it to anybody who is feeling unsure. It is however possible and takes around 1 ½ hours each way. You would need to be fit and I would recommend you wear a life jacket. If you want to Kayak around Maya Bay, you can also take a Kayak over on a Taxi boat. This would seem like the more sensible option and it still gives you the freedom and time that you may be looking for. Why didn’t we just go with that option? I do not know! It was certainly an adventure!

3 Responses to “Kayaking from Phi Phi Don to Maya Bay- (Phi Phi Leh Island)”

  1. Giles Says:

    Hey, loved your story!

    I just did the same thing with a guy I met on the boat over here, it was a drunken idea the night before and we just went ahead and did it! Against all advice too….

    Found your story afterwards as I was trying to see what the exact distance was…. we got a taxi boat back though so you guys win on that front, haha (out excuse is that we on a serious bender of a piss up the day and night before, and barely no previous kayaking expierence) :)


    PS If you know the distance of the Kayak please let me know!

  2. stephanie Says:


    i am so happy i see you kayaking adventure because it is long time i check information about if it is possbible or not to cross by kayaking . why so few people do it ? do u know ? i go there next month and i will try also.
    anyway , congratulations.
    stephanie ( france)

  3. 3generations Says:


Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Comments?



  • None found