Maya Bay Sleep Aboard Tour Review

By Ivana Wibowo

The whole beach to ourselves, late night swim with plankton, and sleeping under the stars…what could be better!?

When I was a little girl, my father had this huge painting of this beautiful beach lined with traditional boats. I was always dreaming that one day, I will be in a place- just like the one in the painting.

Because I have a huge dream to travel the world, I love watching travel shows such as Globe Trekker and Departures. As more images of Thailand were exposed to me, I realized how similar they look to the image of that painting.  Since then, I have always wanted to go to Thailand.

I discovered the Phi Phi islands when trying to look up “Things to do in Thailand”. Many images of Maya Bay came up, and I thought I just have to go. Yes, the turquoise water and majestic cliffs got me hooked!

I love the idea of “roughing” it when traveling. So I started searching about camping in Maya Bay, just to discover that it was banned since 2012. I found out later, that there is another option to spend the night in Maya Bay.  That’s when I discovered Maya Bay Sleep Aboard.  From their website, I also discovered the movie “The Beach” – a movie shot in Maya Bay, starring Leonardi DiCaprio! I love the movie, so I booked the trip right away.

Jumping for joy at Maya Bay!

Before departing to Maya Bay, the group had to meet at Koh Phi Phi Don Pier. Getting to Koh Phi Phi wasn’t easy as we got scammed by a local tour company for our ferry ride.  We will save this for another story.  Anyway, after sprinting at the ferry, we made it just on time before tour left.

On our sleep aboard boat. Cost: THB 3,500/person.

Not long into our journey, we were greeted by beautiful cliffs.  Our guide showed a particular cave where edible bird nest, one of Asia’s delicacy is produced. It was pretty cool to witness it.

The cave where they collect bird nest.

The the boat stopped at a gorgeous bay where we went snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking. The snorkeling wasn’t the best because we didn’t see many corals and fish.  But it was our first time snorkeling, and we had tons of fun!

Having a fantastic time snorkeling!

We also went kayaking (this is our favourite activity back home in Toronto). We explored around the caves, and found our own mini private beach.  It was super cool! The water near the caves was sparkling clear! The best we have ever seen!

Exploring Maya Bay by kayak.

After our fun time, it was time to head to Maya Bay, and relax on the beach!  We were served some pineapples and watermelons on the way.

The view of Maya Bay from afar.

Because we arrived in the evening, most of the crowd have gone back (Maya Bay is a popular day trip destination). There was just enough time to swim, and enjoy the most beautiful beach before the sun goes down.

THIS! (can you spot Steve swimming?)
vs. THIS…(if you are going during the daytime, it will be packed with tourist!)

After sunset, our group set up some camp fires, and made dinner.  We had some Thai chicken curry and veggies.  It was delicious. Alcoholic drinks were served after dinner, and we each got a free bucket.  Now it was time to party! 

Enjoying some relaxing dinner by the beach.

While the others were playing drinking games, Steve and I decided to go for a night walk along the beach.  Oh man, we had never seen so many starts so clear brightening the black sky. We laid down on the sand, staring at the sky until it got too windy.  Unfortunately there is no pictures after dinner as our camera is not capable of taking picture in the dark.

When we went back to our group, they were serving late night bbq chicken wings. A great snack before we go swimming with the plankton!  It was one of the coolest experience we have ever had.

After our late night swim, it was time to rest.  Half of the group continued to party while some of us chose a relaxing night under the stars.  Steve decided that he wants to sleep on the top deck of the boat.  It was beautiful as we laid under the stars.  But I didn’t like it so much because it was windy.  It also started to rain, although it didn’t last very long.  We then wanted to move to another spot that has cover.  Unfortunately all the spots were taken.  This was the only issue I had.  I wish there were more spots on the boat with cover for everyone!  With no choice, we went back to our original spot.  P.S: the tour provided us with some padded mats, sleeping bags,and pillows.

Although Steve seemed to have no problem sleeping, it was a rough night for me. But waking up with the view of the ocean surrounded by beautiful cliffs made it worth it. The sea was so peaceful and calm. We were served some tea & coffee,  and eggs with fried rice for breakfast.  Then we made our way to the beach early morning before the crowd started coming.  We really did had the whole beach all to ourselves! It was magical as we watch the sunrise. Seriously beautiful.

Our lovely group attempting to do cool jumping shot.

We had time for a quick swim and kayak at Maya Bay before heading back to Koh Phi Phi Don.  Steve and a couple others took the opportunity to jump off the boat! It was so fun.

One last fun time before we depart.

See more of our adventure, and footage of us finding a private beach, waking up at Maya Bay, and Steve jumping off a boat! ↓↓↓

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