Maya Bay is above all an exceptional setting: sheer green cliffs above the Andaman Sea, a small white sand beach with a dense encroaching jungle, and reefs adorned with hundreds of multi-coloured fish. This is indisputably one of the finest landscapes in Thailand. Maya Bay also offers great snorkeling, if you manage to leave behind the hordes of holidaymakers arriving in the bay each day.

How to get there?

Maya Bay is accessible by boat, mainly from Ko Phi Phi Don (20 minutes by long-tail boat, the traditional and typical Thai craft) and Phuket (45 minutes by speed boat). In either case, you will have no trouble finding a guided tour, since the visit to Maya Bay is one of the most popular excursions in the country. Most day excursions include stops at other snorkeling spots, especially Bamboo Island and Monkey Beach. The excursion (including a meal and refreshments) costs on average 1 500 bahts per person from Ko Phi Phi Don and 2 000 to 3 000 bahts from Phuket.

View of Maya Bay's reef, Koh Phi Phi

You can also organise your trip yourself (by renting a boat) from Ko Phi Phi Don. This will cost more, but you can set off early and make the most of the beach before the mass arrival of tourists (we recommend avoiding the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. slot). An admission tax of 200 bahts per person is now required to land on the beach.

Water entrance

You enter the water generally from your guide’s boat, and day excursions all include a snorkeling stop at Maya Bay. The most popular area is in the north of the bay, along the spectacular sheer cliffs overlooking the sea. You can also reach the spot from the beach, after a 150-yard swim, but watch out for the many boats sailing in the bay (make your presence visible).

Maya Bay snorkeling map, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Exploration

The depth of the water is the same in all the area (↕6-10ft/2-3m). When you are snorkeling, head for the coral and rocky areas, where the underwater life is more varied. The coral is quite badly damaged in Maya Bay, so don’t expect spectacular sea beds. Two species of clownfish are easy to observe at this spot: pink skunk clownfish, in large numbers, and ocellaris clownfish, a little less common. They live in enormous sea anemones that cover the sea bed in places, 6 to 12 feet deep. Anyone practicing free diving can pay them a visit with a few strokes of the swimfin and see them nestling in the tentacles of their anemones. Among the other common species, the sergeant major fish (which tend to group around the swimmers at the water surface), several species of butterflyfish, parrotfish, as well as a large number of particularly photogenic giant clams, in a wide range of colors.

Ocellaris clownfish at Maya Bay

Maya Bay is a symbol of mass tourism in Thailand. Each day, hundreds and even thousands of tourists pour into the little bay. The coral reefs have been particularly damaged in this spot (breakage, bleaching). The density of snorkelers can be impressive, not counting all the people who try out snorkeling for the first time at Maya Bay. Be attentive during your exploration to avoid collisions or swimfin strokes.

Christmas tree worms at Maya Bay

Restaurants & accommodation

Maya Bay is a natural site. There are no hotels or restaurants. Most tours include meals, however. Ask your tour guide for details and at least take along a snack and something to drink.

Species you may spot while snorkeling Maya Bay
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Ocellaris clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris  
Pink skunk clownfish Amphiprion perideraion  
Redtail butterflyfish Chaetodon collare  
Indo-Pacific sergeant Abudefduf vaigiensis  
Threespot dascyllus Dascyllus trimaculatus  
Bluestreak cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus  
Giant clam Tridacna sp.  
  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth20ft/6m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

Maya Bay is currently closed to all tourist boats by the Department of National Parks until further notice, in an attempt to allow the coral reefs recover from overcrowding.

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.