An April 2005 trip
to Thailand by Vagabondo
Quote: The serenity and austerity of Phi Phi Lay coupled with its stunning geology and astonishing beauty is unmatched by any tropical island that I have ever explored.
A popular excursion from Ko Phi Phi Don is a tiny uninhabited island situated about two miles due south called Ko Phi Phi Le. Travelers vacationing on Phi Phi Don can hire a boatman to ferry them over to Phi Phi Le for about 100 baht per person - remember that you can negotiate prices with Thai boatmen as easily as you can with any other Thai merchant!
Phi Phi Le is basically an arc of craggy limestone hills with one entry points into a beautiful lagoon on one side and another entry point into Mahya Bay on the other side. It is possible to pass on foot from the lagoon through the dense foliage of the island’s interior to Mahya Bay, but you must initially pass through a small hole at the waterline in order to access the footpath that traverses the passable section of the rugged island. The boatman that we hired took us first into the lagoon for about an hour of snorkeling. Not only is the color of the water in the lagoon an amazing shade of turquoise but it is so clear that one can see several feet down with the naked eye. The snorkeling in the lagoon is decent, but the really good snorkeling is around the exterior of the arc. After our lagoon experience the boatman instructed us to pass through the aforementioned hole and over to the island’s only beach at Mahya Bay via the footpath.
The snorkeling in the bay is not very impressive but the scenery of Mahya Bay in general and the beach in particular is so stunning that you will surely question the legitimacy of the sights that your mind is attempting to process. The nearly vertical grey cliffs that delineate the bay contrasting with and the lush foliage behind the bleach-white sand of the beach creates a sight that is more difficult to describe as it is to behold. The water in the bay is quite shallow so you can safely explore a good distance from the beach free of worry. There are some interesting caves along either side of the bay that you can swim to but be aware the current gets slightly rougher the closer you get to the rocky periphery of the bay.
After a couple hours of exploration in the bay the boatman gathered us up for one more adventure before returning to Phi Phi Don. We exited the bay and he took us to an area on the exterior of the arc where dolphins are known to congregate. Sure enough, when we got to the designated area we were able to spot a pod of dolphins about 200 yards off. We couldn’t get too close to them or else they would quickly evacuate the area. The dolphins were a neat sight, but the snorkeling was the true highlight of that particular venture. We witness huge schools of fish zipping around and really colorful reefs only about 20 feet down.
Phi Phi Le’s scenery is so stunning that portions of the movie "The Beach," which was released in 2000, was filmed on that island. Judging from recent readings it seems that there has been some development on Phi Phi Le since I was there in April 2005. I can’t say how much the existence of commerce on the island will detract from the experience as I have described it, but given the minuscule amount of developable land on Phi Phi Le I imagine that even the most enterprising and creative Thai developers will be hard pressed to squeeze many guesthouses and shops onto that island.