The sandy beach of Thailand’s Phi Phi island, the setting for the highest-grossing movie of all time, has been granted the go-ahead to reopen to the public, eight years after it was closed by health authorities.
The beach, just a 15-minute boat ride from the bustling tourist island of Krabi, is the site of the eponymous film The Beach, which saw Leonardo DiCaprio struggle with the lure of the flesh-and-blood human race.
The Beach has a huge cult following, though much of its appeal comes down to DiCaprio’s skill as an impersonator. In one scene, he removes his shorts and climbs onto a rock, exposing a tattoo of a fleur-de-lis on his leg.
Emblazoned on the Baan Yeang beach, between Phi Phi’s twin villages of Baan Yeang and Lun, are signs warning visitors that it is not open to the public. It is especially instructive on the first day of the season, when visitors flock to the beach. But with an influx of foreign tourists to Thailand, the beach is expected to reopen in mid-May and plan to rake in up to £8m over the following year.
The mainland’s Department of Health and the National Sports Authority have given their green light for the beach to reopen, but the owners will be able to charge visitors an entrance fee, a process deemed essential for the island’s transformation from luxury vacation destination to commercial venture.