Back in the late 80′s there wasn’t a whole bunch of development on Koh Phi Phi Don, the largest of the Phi Phi Islands. This is a view south-west from the lookout point. Most of the accommodation back then was cabins under the palm trees separating the two halves of the island. The deeper bay is Ton Sai Bay to the south (left in this photo) so this is where the ferry boats pulled in to what was then a fairly circumspect pier. You pitched up onto the beach and then haggled with all the vendors for the class of room you wanted – from just a roof to an air-conditioned room. I was already soft by then so I chose an air-conditioned room! Loh Dalam Bay, the bay on the north, was quite shallow and at low water you could walk a long way out on the sand. As I recall, the rain coming up from the south reached the islands before I reached my room!
When the Tsunami of 26 December 2004 hit the islands, a wall of water 18 ft (6.5 m) swept in from the right to meet a 10 ft (3 m) wave sweeping in from the left. The bar of sand only reached about 6 ft (2 m) above sea level. The result was pretty much everything and everyone on that strip of sand got washed away to the south (left). Local estimates were that between 2,000 and 4,000 people perished. One year after the tsunami, over 1,500 hotel rooms were once again open and tourists had started to return.