A new dawn beckons for the seashore ruined by overtourism

“There’s a secret seaside – on an island that no one particular can get to,” whispers a Khao San Highway backpacker to a child-confronted Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2000 smash hit The Seaside. Adhering to a map nailed to the doorway of his Bangkok guesthouse, Di Caprio’s character, Richard, before long would make his way south to the paradisal isle, its jungly limestone ridges coiled in luminous green h2o like a sleeping dragon, bends and curves concealing key lagoons and comet-tail beach locations. 

In the movie, the seashore in question is by no means named, but it was Maya Bay on the island of Phi Phi Leh, situated among Phuket and Krabi in Phang Nga Bay, that was picked as the stunning set locale. Within just months of the movie’s release, the island was pretty much as well known as its Hollywood star. A generation of travellers added it to their bucket listing – myself involved. 

So when I moved to Phuket in 2013, a person of the very first matters I did was get an overnight trip to Koh Phi Phi, such as an early morning tour of Maya Bay. Climbing in the dim, I identified myself on a extensive-tail boat as the sun broke in excess of the Andaman Sea racing toward that famous crescent seaside together with dozens of other vessels keen to conquer the crowds. It was a fool’s errand. By 8am, the boats ended up anchored four-deep along the shore, spewing out petrol fumes and a deafening racket. By 9am, the island was busier than Oxford Road on Xmas Eve. Tour teams trampled via the vegetation, black plastic bags overflowed with rubbish, and a swift dip in the heat waters included tackling an assault system of selfie sticks. It was a much cry from the Arcadia promised on the large monitor. 

Despite having very little inclination to return, I ventured to Maya Bay a couple of much more periods with viewing friends, only to discover myself progressively alarmed by the environmental degradation. Daily customer quantities rose from 2,000 a day in the Noughties to virtually 5,000, devastating the ecosystem the two earlier mentioned and underneath the surface area of the water. A person maritime biologist I spoke to in 2017 instructed me that the combination of dropped anchors and careless swimmers caked in sunscreen experienced harmed 90 for every cent of the coral all over Phi Phi. Paradise had been properly and definitely dropped.    

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