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. The typical itinerary lasts about seven to 10 days, and the larger yachts that sail the Mergui, such as Dunia Baru, can accommodate up to 14 travelers in seven separate cabins. Your group will be diving all alone on these dive sites most of the time. Travelers with a bit of luck on their side may have a chance encounter with the Moken, the semi-nomadic sea gypsies who have eked out an existence on these islands for hundreds of years.
Maybe one of these dive cruises’ most exciting dive sites is Western Rocky. This remoteness, along with relatively few dive operators, makes for blissfully uncrowded reefs; it’s not uncommon to be the only boat on site for several days at a time. It is not currently permitted for foreigners to travel to the islands independently, and there are naval patrols through the islands that check visitor documentation.
From Kawthaung, you can hop on to the express boats to reach Myeik. The Moken people generally live on boats and travel between different islands in the archipelago. Belonging to one of the top dive sites of the Mergui Archipelago, the dive site Black Rock is a natural magnet for marine life.
Farm to table, dining at Wa Ale is equal parts eco-socially-friendly as they are a culinary experience, fresh produce harvested from the resort’s own chef’s garden and fresh seafood caught daily from the Archipelago provide a nourishing Asian- and Mediterranean-inspired menu that changes daily.
Dive companies of Thailand’s Andaman Coast were the first to lead sailing and diving excursions here, but with around 800 mostly uninhabited islands these excursions still left much of the archipelago to the imagination. While pearls and marine products from the region are sought after, it is the huge untapped potential of the archipelago as a beach and ecotourist destination that could really transform the area’s economy.
While that could change in the years ahead, for now, Mergui’s resorts really do feel like a private island paradises. So the Mergui archipelago and its amazing eco-resorts offer something which is needed, and necessary. The lack of infrastructure on the uninhabited islands means it may long remain ‘off the beaten track’ and offer a welcome escape from the pressures of modern life, and the perils of over-tourism.