Phi Phi Island: The Perfect Beach

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Rain or shine, we were determined to see Koh Phi Phi Ley, the uninhabited, smaller of the Phi Phi islands (made famous by a young Leo Dicaprio in “The Beach”—a good early millennial throwback). We planned to visit the island and its secluded beach on a boating daytrip—of course, it continued to rain and heavy grey clouds cast foreboding shadows over the choppy waves crashing around our boat. We searched the horizon for patches where sun struggled through, and willed the wind to blow the sky our way, to no avail. We accepted the fate of our wet ride as the storm soaked us on the front of the boat. As we neared the lush cliffs, the water brightened into a shocking hue of turquoise, and swirls of vibrant cobalt blue indicated where reef resided below. The boat came to a halt as our driver pointed to a rickety staircase sandwiched between two rocks—accessed by bodysurfing the strong tide towards the stairs and pulling yourself out of the water before waves flattened you against them. I managed to make it up without adding additional cuts to my already gashed feet and we were ushered by twin cliffs into the jungle that carpeted the island floor. We emerged from the other side in a beach paradise so awe striking, not even grey skies and rain could mask its splendor. We sprinted to the shore and dove into 80-degree water that shielded us like a warm towel from the heavy downpour. My waterproof camera was the hit of our little beach party as I captured snapshot after snapshot of backpackers we had just met from around the world sharing and reveling in the magnificence of the moment. No one cared that it was raining or that it was cold—all that mattered was being in that moment on that beach, and life seemed pretty perfect.

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