Dramatically flanked by green-clad cliffs, majestic Ao Maya sits on Phi-Phi Leh's western shoreline. In 1999, its beautiful sands were controversially used as a film set for The Beach, based on Alex Garland's cult novel. Although the production team restored things before leaving, many claim the damage to the ecosystem has been permanent. In 2018, Thai authorities temporarily closed Ao Maya to visitors from June to September in an attempt to combat the devastating effects of overtourism on the island. The closure was extended indefinitely in October 2018.
The level of boat traffic and environmental degradation here (Ao Maya receives up to 5000 visitors a day in high season) somewhat detracts from the serenity, though the setting is still spectacular.