If visiting the turquoise blue waters and white sands of Koh Tachai island in Thailand is on your bucket list, it may be awhile before you have a chance to cross it off.
Citing increased threats from tourism both local and international, officials have made the unusual decision to cut off access to the island's picturesque shoreline, beaches and coral reefs.
Most of Thailand's marine parks close soon for the monsoon season and reopen around Oct. 15, but Koh Tachai will remain closed.
“We have to close it to allow the rehabilitation of the environment both on the island and in the sea without being disturbed by tourism activities before the damage is beyond repair,” Tunya Netithammakul, director of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation, told the Bangkok Post.
Koh Tachai, off Phang Nga province, is part of the Similan National Park. Despite its designation as an ecologically sensitive "primitive zone," the island has been inundated with tourism companies.
"A beach on the island is capable of holding up to 70 people at a time," Thon Thamrongnawasawat, deputy dean of the Faculty of Fisheries of Kasetsart University, told the newspaper. "But sometimes the number of tourists is well over 1,000 on the beach, which is crowded with food stalls and tour boats."
But it's not just the beaches that have gotten out of hand. Diving around the island has also become a frustrating experience.
“Too many divers are attracted to this site,” Willow E from Staffordshire wrote on the island's Trip Advisor page. “Generally there are 8-10 boats here on most sites with circa 20 divers a boat ... the mantas are being driven away by the hoards of divers now. Wake up national park admin … you are losing the attraction by allowing too many divers.”
While snorkeling is off-limits around Koh Tachai, park officials will allow two deep diving sites to remain open.