Mergui Archipelago, comprising of more than 800 pristine islands, is getting more accessible. Growing number of tour operators and some new accommodation options makes it easier than ever for travellers to experience one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
For decades, the Mergui Archipelago has been one of the best kept secrets of Myanmar and in fact South Asia. Since opening up to travellers in the late 90s, this region still remains very much untouched.
Until very recently, visiting the Andaman Club, Myanmar Andaman Resort or going for diving holidays were the only ways of experiencing the archipelago. With growing popularity of the area, the offer for travellers is also expanding. In addition to the aforementioned options, travellers can now go for sailing holidays with Burma Boating stay on Nyaung Oo Phee Island, or take part in eco-activities at Boulder Island Resort among a few other choices in this beautiful and unsoiled region.
“The Mergui Archipelago is just opening up to tourism and most people come to explore untouched and remote islands. We believe that our classic sailing boats are the best way to explore the area in style,” said Janis Vougioukas, General Manager of Burma Boating.
“I visited Mergui Archipelago for the first time in 2012 and almost instantly became a strong believer in the area. My work in Myanmar took me all around the country multiple times, but the Mergui Archipelago remains one of my favourite destinations not only in Myanmar, but also around the world,” said Marek Lenarcik, General Manager of Mergui Projects & River Cruises at Tint Tint Myanmar Group of Companies.
Over 800 islands with powdery white beaches, thick coconut groves, and vibrant underwater ecosystems make up the natural splendour of this region. These islands are home to the Moken people or “sea gypsies” who are believed to have up to 2,000 members still scattered throughout the region today. They eat, live and breathe the sea.
“Mergui Archipelago is like Maldives with more dramatic scenery, less tourists and almost no infrastructure. We’ve already visited twice and are planning to come for the third time. There is simply nothing else on the planet, which can compare to this,” said a couple of Swiss tourists after their most recent visit in October 2016.
The islands are similar to their Thai counterparts, with rugged, high-profile limestone and granite topography. Apart from the sheer number of Myanmar islands, one obvious difference is their unspoiled terrestrial scenery. Dense brush and rainforest cover most areas above the high-tide line, while vast stretches of mangroves and magnificent white-sand beaches are interspersed with rocky headlands, tidal creeks and a few freshwater rivers.
Underwater, this region offers scenic reefs, fascinating topography and prolific fish and invertebrate life. One of the main attractions for divers is the strong possibility of seeing big animals, especially sharks and rays. More dependable, however, is the tremendous variety of smaller fish and reef creatures, including many unusual species, some of which are rarely encountered in Thai waters. Add to this the allure of diving where few people have before and you have got all the ingredients for a top-notch dive destination. Considering the vast number of islands and reefs, many more dive sites are undoubtedly waiting to be discovered.
In addition to dedicated drive trips, there are some eco-adventure trips in Mergui Archipelago, combining sailing, snorkelling, diving, beach-combing, island exploration and, in some cases, kayaking.