Even under grey skies and rough waters, Maya Bay in the Phi Phi Islands of Southern Thailand easily captured high ranks on my list of the most beautiful beaches. The ones I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, at least.

Like most, I was drawn to Maya Bay (and backpacking in general) after seeing the movie “The Beach,” which was filmed there. This spot stands out because of the majestic 100-meter high limestone cliffs that surrounds the already gorgeous beach.

Our boat dropped anchor off the coast of a rocky side of the island. Imagine our shock when the boatmen shouted that we had to swim to the actual island then cross a forested area to get to “The Beach.” Our experience reminded me of what happened in the movie.

We stashed our cameras in a dry bag, provided by the boatmen, so we could bring our cameras with us.

It had been raining on-and-off during my trip in Ko Phi Phi. Not a lot of other tourists dared to sail through the highly turbulent open sea that day and all the long tail and speedboats did not dock directly in front of the sandy beach. I loved that Maya Bay looked so uncrowded and natural.

Maya Bay was remarkably stunning! The sand wasn’t the stark white color, I expected, but it was lengthy and powdery fine. The water was tinted with an alluring turquoise color, even under the dull sky.

I could visualize its full grandeur under the perfect sunny weather … but then the beach would be littered with too many boats and tourists. The unfortunate weather turned out to be a blessing in disguise.