Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh island will be shut down for four months

By Nick Romano
March 29, 2018 at 01:41 PM EDT
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The beach of The Beach — like, the sandy locale made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio movie directed by Danny Boyle — won’t be accessible to tourists for four months annually starting this summer. So if you’re looking to follow in Richard’s footsteps, shirk all your responsibilities, and travel to Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh island in the Andaman Sea, maybe do some Googling to make sure you can.

According to the Associated Press, Maya Bay will be shut down beginning in June to allow for the recovery of battered coral reefs and sea life.

“It’s like someone who has been working for decades and has never stopped,” Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a member of Thailand’s national strategy committee on environment development, told the AP. “Overworked and tired, all the beauty of the beach is gone. We need a timeout for the beach.”

Maya Bay had been open year-round, even though many Thai national parks are typically closed around mid-May to mid-October. It’s because of The Beach. Tourists want feel like they’re in Boyle’s 2000 film, based on the book by Annihilation and Ex Machina filmmaker Alex Garland. DiCaprio played Richard, a man trekking through Thailand who stumbles across a map to a mysterious tropical paradise.

The number of people who visit Maya Bay has become unsustainable for the ecosystem. Sea life is said to have virtually disappeared. “If you ask me if it is too late to save our islands, the answer is no,” Thanya Netithammakum, head of the National Parks and Wildlife Department, said. “But if we don’t do something today, it will be too late.”

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