Wildlife at Krabi beach from Leonardo DiCaprio film recovers from tourist overrun

Blacktip sharks in Maya Bay, Photo by Michal Jablonski Facebook.

A famous beach in Krabi, featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach, is now recovering its wildlife after having been overrun by tourists in the past. The beach, the focus of visiting Maya Bay, closed in 2018, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, because of how much tourism had damaged the ecosystem.

Now, plant and animal species that disappeared are returning. The bay reopened to visitors a few months ago, however they are not allowed to swim and visiting boats have to stay out of the famous bay, avoiding the anchoring damage which destroyed the coral in the past.

The most notable animal to return to breed in the bay is the blacktip shark. 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.

“And when the tide goes down, I can see all the new coral and crabs and shrimp. It makes me very proud.”

Other visitors, both Thai and foreign, were struggling words to describe how beautiful Maya Bay is now. One woman from Germany said it was “the most beautiful place she had ever seen”.

A Thai tourist said the water was so beautiful and clear that she was tempted to swim, but she understood why she couldn’t.

Park rangers are strongly enforcing the no-swimming rules. They recently fined one French tourist 5,000 baht for swimming.

Boats are no longer allowed on the bay, either. Instead, there’s a purpose-built dock on the other side of the island to drop passengers, who then take a short walk through the jungle to the crescent shaped beach.


Environment News

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.