So many great beach resorts also have equally great marine life built into their settings — and it makes a lot of sense to interact more with your neighbors in nature if you’re already sunbathing and swimming in the ocean. You’re practically knocking right at their front door.
Here’s a resort where activities are centered on getting to know more about the local sea life, and how the community around them can engage with them in fun (and supportive!) ways.
Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort offers 70 acres of beaches, bungalows, restaurants, pools and all that other good stuff, but with something else as well. Far from the crowds of tour groups at Maya Bay, or backpackers on the main streets of Koh Phi Phi Don, lies this resort.
The secluded enclave has a new Marine Discovery Center aimed at teaching people about life underwater in the Phi Phi islands. The center includes interactive displays about the exotic species living near the islands as well as how to keep them safe.
This comes at a crucial time for the Phi Phi islands, home to Maya Bay, one of Thailand’s most visited attractions, made famous by the 2000 movie The Beach and, during the high season, welcoming more than 3,700 tourists daily.
The bay has become so over-visited that the government has decided to close it for the four months of low season for the last few years, in an effort to let the marine ecosystem recover. (Maya Bay reopens this year on Oct. 1, by the way).
One way you know that the resort is serious about marine education, and not just trying to create a gimmick in an oversaturated tourism market, is that the center is open to the public as well as hotel guests. They’ve already hosted local school groups and open their doors for free to anyone who wants to stop by.
The resort, along with their advisor, famed Marine Biologist Thon Thamrongnawasawat, hope to grow the audience for sustainable tourism in the Thai islands with the opening of the center — and that means teaching locals as well as tourists. After all, many of the island’s students will grow up to work in its tourism sector and influence future visitors with their knowledge.
The center even has a nursery where they care for local animals that have been injured, such as sharks that have been wounded by fishing nets.
Among the activities regularly offered at the center are growing baby coral and releasing clownfish into the ocean.
Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort
Loh Ba Gao Bay
Koh Phi Phi Don
Rooms start at THB3,350 (US$102) through the end of October