While the world is still very much in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s nothing wrong with spending a little time thinking about your post-pandemic travel wish list. Okay, a lot of time. Make no mistake, there will be a day when you can dust off your passport, pack a bag, and board a plane to safely travel the globe. It might not be tomorrow, next week, or next month (hell, it might not even be next year), but it’s coming.
Once travel is finally safe again, Jessica More — travel influencer and 3rd Stewardess on Bravo’s Below Deck Mediterranean — already knows her first stop. She’s heading to the Phi Phi Islands, in Thailand.
It’s no surprise that Phi Phi — with its glittering waters and clean, organic, seafood-heavy dining scene — appeals to More. She grew up in Florida and Southern California, two states with their own notable ocean habitats and plenty of beachside restaurants. But her beloved Phi Phi has had a whirlwind few years. In 2019, Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh was closed due to overtourism. After briefly reopening, it was re-closed and will remain so until 2021. Meanwhile, Phi Phi Don responded to the pandemic by shutting down to tourism and using the period of quiet to thoroughly clean and reset. The project has been so successful thus far that Thailand’s Environmental Minister plans on closing many of th nation’s most heavily trafficed parks yearly, some for months at a time.
Whenever More does get back to Phi Phi, it’s sure to look a little different than she left it. In all likelihood, it will have some visitor caps and be a little quieter year-round. That’s a good thing — a more managable tourist load will help the islands shine for guests and locals alike. Trust us, we love these islands as much as the next vagabond, but its important to consider sustainability.
If Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh are on your travel list, check out the Below Deck Mediterranean star’s must-visit spots and save them for the moment the “all clear” is finally given.
Best place in Phi Phi to grab a coffee or smoothie?
Tucked away in the center of Phi Phi Don Island is Aroy Kaffeine, known for the best coffee in town. They also have delightful fresh juice smoothies and a vegetarian-friendly menu. My go-to is fresh lemon ginger shot and a golden milk latte.
Side note: they take donations for cat food to feed the local stray cats, so if you’re feeling generous you can buy a bag from the local market and drop it off to them to distribute to the island’s many furry friends.
Favorite beach in Phi Phi?
Nui Beach is so beautiful! The calm turquoise waters are great for snorkeling. I personally like to buy a cheap water float from the market to float around on. The best time to get there is in the mornings around 10 am before it gets too crowded. After 12 pm the groups start showing up and that’s usually my cue to head back to town to get some lunch.
Best spot to grab a late-night dinner?
Efe Mediterranean Cuisine: YUM!
I’ve been to Phi Phi multiple times and I always have to eat at Efe. They are centrally located to the bars and nightclubs in the middle of Ton Sai village. It’s a popular spot with people in the know because the food is just that good. I stumbled upon it on my first time to the island when I was looking for an alternative to Thai food. The fresh kebabs and Turkish coffees hit the spot!
Best bar to grab a drink?
If you want to have a party vibe then Slinky Bar is the crazy spot to go to (think of a frat party). But if you’re looking for one of the best sunset spots while sipping on something tasty, I’d suggest Sunflower Beach Bar.
Best place in Phi Phi for a hike?
Phi Phi viewpoint 3! It’s a mild-moderate hike up to a gorgeous overlook of the island. You will most definitely see some monkeys hanging around trying to steal chips from the snack stand at the top.
You do have a pay a small fee to walk out onto the platform to get the best view, but it’s worth it.
What is one thing anyone visiting Phi Phi must experience?
I highly suggest renting a private longtail boat or speedboat to cruise around the island of Phi Phi for the day. Even just a half a day is enough to take in the stunningly crystal-clear blue waters. You get to enjoy hard-to-get-to beach spots, the best snorkeling with tons of fish, and most boats also provide lunch and drinks, too.
Best place to enjoy the outdoor life in Phi Phi?
Honestly, my favorite spot to enjoy the outdoors is my go-to hotel — Paradise Resort. I get my favorite villa that sits within a few feet to the beach and is where I spend most of my time. The beach is calm and stunning and, better yet, peaceful– not over-crowded most of the time. They have a great restaurant on location and even have a little beachfront massage spa.
I get a more than reasonably priced outdoor massage almost every other day, grab a beer from the little market on location, and relax on the beach all day long. Couldn’t get any better than that for me.
Catch ‘Below Deck Mediterranean’ on Mondays at 9/8c on Bravo.