How to see Thailand’s collapsed island of Koh Mae Urai, Krabi

On Oct 15th, 2020, following heavy rain and storms, the limestone island of Koh Mae Urai in Krabi splintered into two large pieces and collapsed into the Andaman Sea.

National Park teams were fast to react, and quickly arrived at the site to seal off the area and make an initial assessment of the damage. The island had long been a popular dive site for visitors to Krabi and Phi Phi; the reef here was home to a variety of important corals and marine life. It drew keen diving explorers with the promise of two tunnels of hard and soft corals, including the Acropora cervicornis species.

Observations confirmed that approximately a quarter of the island had fallen into the sea. Spanning 50×70 meters wide, 30-50,000 tonnes of rock now jut out from the bottom of the bay (which is about 20 meters deep.)

collapsed island near Koh Phi Phi in southern Thailand

While nobody was injured in the collapse, the split had a devastating impact on the island’s surrounding coral, with 20% of it (around 300 meters squared) being affected by the falling rock. Following their find, the National Park officials announced that the surrounding area would remain sealed for 2 years, dotted by bouys and red flags, to work on a recovery project and inspect for additional fissures in the remaining rock.

It was later reported that staff from the Nopparat Thara, Phi Phi, National Park team had pictures of cracks in nearby Koh Talu, taken before the collapse. This initiated further investigations of Krabi’s popular tourist islands by the National Park and geologists from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment …

collapsed island in krabi

Other islands at risk of collapse in Thailand

The collapse of Koh Mae Urai inevitably generated concern for the structural security of Krabi and Phi Phi’s islands. Following the fall, efforts were made to review the natural erosion of the best of popular Koh Tapu, aka ‘James Bond Island.’

Most notable for its famous appearance in the 1974 movie, The Man with the Golden Gun, the island stands at 31 meters tall and is recognised for its unusual tapering shape. While its narrow base makes it particularly photo-worthy, officials were aware that it’s main draw may also be it’s downfall; cracks were found in the iconic limestone and they feared it may be the next on the list to topple into the sea.

Conservation work is now underway in the Phang Nga Bay area, and teams announced in 2021 that they would execute a ‘geotechnical survey’. Their goal is to calculate and measure the island’s rate of erosion, with potential plans to introduce foundation engineering techniques and reduce risks.

aerial view of Koh Mae Urai, Krabi

How to see the collapsed island of Koh Mae Urai

The fallen rocks of Koh Mae Urai lie about 2 kilometres south of Krabi’s popular Koh Poda. While there are no longer any tour groups that list the island as a main stop point, there are a couple of ways to see the fallen island for yourself:

  • Hire a private longtail boat and driver to take you past.
    While this is an option, it wouldn’t be one that we specifically recommend. Due to the collapse, a lot of the coral here is still in recovery, and the site is too far (and small) from the mainland to make it worth paying for an individual visit.
  • See Koh Mae Urai as part of your Krabi Breakfast Cruise or Krabi Sunset Cruise.
    Both our morning and afternoon cruises pass by the collapse site of the island. Our traditional Siamese Junk boat takes you close enough to the rock to capture incredible photographs of the large rock that now reaches out of the waters next to what remains of the original structure. The tour also provides you snorkel, swim, and paddle board experiences around Krabi’s other islands, Koh Poda, Chicken, Si and Ta Ming. You’ll also be given the opportunity to jump into the evening waters with the bioluminescent plankton next to Railay’s Pranang Beach.

Want to see more of Koh Mae Urai’s collapse site? Watch our video below, taken by our boat crew during one of our days at sea.

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