Burma Boating is set to launch monthly cruises around the Mergui Archipelago, combining two of the most sought-after activities in these clear waters – yachting and scuba diving. Because of their intimate relationship with the sea, the Moken are extremely knowledgeable about navigating the unforgiving waters and how to hunt the aquatic life they need to survive. The archipelago has been formally open for business since 1997, but thanks to cumbersome red tape, isolation and erratic investor sentiment it is a seascape largely unblemished by Myanmar’s rush to modernize.
With fewer than 50,000 travelers to the region every year and a lot fewer divers, you can count on private dive sites, not shared by any other dive boat. Liveaboard boats in Burma get you diving here close to three-meter nurse sharks and there are good chances of seeing other shark species.
Self-sufficient with its own solar power plant and spring water, the ‘back-to-nature’ resort is the base for soft adventure on and off the 135-hectare (half square mile) diverse jungle-covered island. Nyaung Oo Phee Island Victoria Cliff Resort has great beaches and accommodation that varies from tents to luxury villas.
The Mergui Archipelago, or Myeik, as the locals call it, is made up of 800 islands distributed across a 600-kilometre stretch of the Andaman Sea, forming a large marine ecosystem that extends to another 40 islands that are part of Thailand. The Salone people, also known as Moken, are a prominent tribe who live on the sea around the Myeik Archipelagos.
The only two places to access the Mergui archipelagoes are Myeik or Kawthaung. Next up, pick up the east winds and speed towards the archipelago’s Mid Group and the Frost and Potter Islands, two truly spectacular areas famous for their huge fig trees right beside the beach.
Few of the 800-plus islands in the Mergui (or Myeik) Archipelago off Myanmar’s far south-west coast are inhabited – aside from macaques, clouded leopards and pangolins. In this area you’ll first see some bigger islands and once we have left these behind us, rocks and small islands mark our route.