Sharks Attacks around Phi Phi Island

The movie ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo DiCaprio has done much to promote the beauty of Phi Phi Island to a larger world audience. Especially the pictures of Maya Bay will remain forever a part of movie history.

One very disturbing scene in the movie, however, pictured a shark attack right off the beach of Phi Phi and many visitors to southern Thailand ask themselves now, if swimming or snorkeling in those waters is really safe.

Shark Attack Scene from the Movie ‘The Beach’ in Maya Bay Phi Phi

Shark Attack Scene from the Movie ‘The Beach’ in Maya Bay Phi Phi

There is a very simple answer to this: it is totally safe. There has not been, not even once, a shark attack at Phi Phi or Phuket.

The reason for this is also simple: the shark species that can be encountered around the Phi Phi Islands are utterly harmless to humans.

Size-wise, the Black Tip Reef Sharks that can be encountered on snorkeling tours off Long Beach are quite small. They are not all that scared of humans, however their idea of prey goes towards much smaller fish.

Even more docile are the Leopard Sharks. They are much bigger in size, maybe up to the length of a human. But during the daytime, when diving trips go especially out to their known gathering points, they are usually alseep. Humans can swim very close to them without them showing signs of distress, and pictures of divers touching Leopard Sharks abound; this should not be done, but not for the reason that these are dangerous animals: it is simply not good to rob those beautiful animals of their sleep.

Leopard Shark at Shark Point between Phuket and Phi Phi Island

Leopard Shark at Shark Point between Phuket and Phi Phi Island

There are, from time to time, sightings of much larger shark species coming there from the open ocean of the Andaman Sea. They are rare, and even though those sharks would have theoretically the potential to be dangerous, they are also quite easily spooked. The likelihood that they would swim up to one of the beaches of Phi Phi is not one of the dangers one needs to keep in mind (sharp rocks and corals are a much larger hazard).

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