Mergui Archipelago, located in southernmost part of Myanmar (Burma), comprises over 800 beautiful islands. Due to its virtual isolation, the islands and surrounding seas are alive with an amazing diversity of flora & fauna and very beautiful underwater scenes and marine life.
The only human inhabitants in the area are sea gypsies, namely Salon in Myanmar (Moken). They live on boats during dry season and remain on land during rainy season. They still practice the same fishing and boat building techniques used for generation.
Just north of the Surin Islands, an imaginary line divides Thai waters from Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago. Also known as the Archipelago, this immense area covers approximately 36,000 sp km (14,000 sq miles) and included roughly 800 islands. Diving here is still in its infancy, as the entire region has been off-limits to outsiders since the late 1940s. After several years of negotiation by Phuket dive operators, the archipelago was opened for tourism in 1997, yet much of the area remains unexplored.
The islands are similar to their Thai counterparts, with rugged, high-profile limestone and granite topography. One obvious difference, aside from the sheer number of Myanmar islands, 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. Though several of the larger islands are home to small communities of Moken 'sea gypsies,' the vast majority are uninhabited and largely untouched by humans.
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've 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.
The Mergui Archipelago is renowned for its white-sand beaches, many miles of gorgeous coastline with hundreds and sheltered anchorages. Most islands have one if not many bays where Schooner Dallinghoo can anchor for the day or night. From here you can explore the bay and beaches with our kayaks or sail the coast line with our sailing dinghy. The only way to fully appreciate the natural beauty the Mergui Archipelago is by sailing around them.
Tourism in the area is restricted to cruises as land based accommodations on the islands is very limited, two resorts currently, this keeps the area very attractive as low impact tourism reserves the area's natural beauty. However there are a number of plans to develop further islands.
Whether you are looking for world-class diving or snorkelling opportunities or some of the world's most spectacular sailing routes, Mergui Archipelago have a great deal to offer.
Kho Yin Khwa Kyunn(Macleod Island)
Macleod Island is situated in Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago, at Latitude 10' 10" and longitude 97' 56" and some 40 nautical miles from Kawthaung (Victoria Point) and some 160 nautical miles from Myeik (Mergui). Macleod Island is one of the unspoiled islands in Mergui Archipelago which is perfect for diving, snorkelling, sea kayaking and fishing. It is also a perfect place for bird watching, short trekking and jungle safari as it is densely wooded and hilly. Its single prominent summit is 173 meters high. Macleod Island Bay's dazzling underwater beauty is its infinite shades of white, blue, and turquoises coral gardens.
On the island live at least 5 species of bird of preys: White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus), Brahminy Kite (Haliastur Indus) etc. Beside from birds of prey, Macleod Island is an important breeding and foraging site for Wreathed Hornbills (Aceros undulates), which is another species indicator of the good health of the forest.
Other interesting birds on the island include important populations of Edible-nest Swiftlets (Collocalia fuciphaga) that breed in caves and high limestone outcrops, Collared Kingfishers (Todiramphus Chloris) and the elusive Beach Thick-knee (Esacus Neglectus), which is a large wader that requires undisturbed sandy beaches to live on. Many more bird species breed in the forest on the island, making it a real bird's sanctuary. Many species butterfly, cricket, squirrel and wild life, like wild-pig and monitor Lizard, etc., can also be found.
Kyun Su (Cockburn Island)
Here at Kyun Su, we have a chance to explore and view the limestone caves and rock formations and other wildlife.
Bo Wei (Mc Carthy)
Here at Bo Wei Island we have a chance to study the spectacular vertical rock cliff formations. Bo Wei Island is one of the most famous dive sites.
Kyunn Phi Lar (Great Swintons Island)
The beaches on Kyun Philar are uninhabitant, with very white clean sands. Kyunn Phi Lar has many birds, animals, fishes and marine mammals including monitor lizards, turtles, sharks, snakes and also kites and sea eagles. The beach is half a mile long with good snorkelling places, especially in the South-western Gt. Swinton and in the North-eastern part of the island. There are a lot of coral reefs and the water depth is from 9 to 12 meters.
Here on Bo Ywe Island, we have a chance to view the magnificent waterfall situated on Bo Ywe's western shore.
Nga Mann is one of famous dive sites. One can enjoy swimming and snorkelling here as it has colourful coral reefs.
Hlaing Gu (Cavern Island)
Hlaing Gu is also one of the famous dive sites. It is also famous for its large lime stone caves.
Lampi Island or Kyun Tan Shey (Sullivan Island)
The marine natural park is the most popular island for visitors in the Mergui Archipelago. Established in 1995 as the country's first marine national park it is rich in biodiversity, mangrove, clean water and coral reefs.
It is also the favourite island for nature lovers. This is a good place for bird-life including hornbills, king fishers, kites and sea eagles. Crab-eating macaques (monkeys) can be seen here on the shoreline feasting on oysters. It will take at least three days in Lampi to see all in details.
Bo Cho Island (Punala Island)
There are Salone and Myanmar people in Makyungalet Village on Punala Island. There is also a small Moken's Museum in the Village.
Nyaung Wee (Pulubada Island)
Here on the southeast coast of Nyaung Wee Island, you will experience the unique Moken culture and their fascinating life style.
Relax or go snorkelling at Crescent Bay (a cluster of islands grouped together to form a beautiful bay) while the staff prepares your lunch.
A one mile-long beach, a creek and many mangrove trees beside it are in the western Pulaubada. You can see birds, monkeys, wild hogs and especially, a flock of horn bills coming back to roost in the evening.
Island 115 (Frost Island)
Here we have a chance to explore the swiftlets cave, which is 15 feet in height and 8 feet wide.
These small birds make nests with their own vomit and these nests are collected and exported to many East Asian countries as they are prized as an aphrodisiac and a powerful medicine for almost all ailments.
On the island also we can see great hornbills, king fishers, kites and sea eagles. This island has a white sandy beach with crystal clear water which is rich in hard coral with small colorful tropical fishes darting in and out plus many sea urchins.
Na Nat Thee (High Rock Island)
This island is rich with colourful coral reefs and very good for snorkelling. It is the suitable place to go scuba diving. There are varieties of crabs and sea horses under the clear waters.
Nyaung Oo Phee
Nyaung Oo Phee has many limestone caves for you to explore by kayak. Here we can also stop for swimming or snorkelling in crystal clear water and chance to stretch your legs on the white sandy beach.
Nga Htway Rue
Like Nyaung Oo Phee Island, Nga Htway Rue is an island with many caves for exploration by kayaks and also a very good place for snorkelling. The waters are crystal clear for you to fully enjoy the underwater marine life.
Nga Khin Nyo Gyee
Nga Khin Nyo Gyee Island has so much to see and do as this small interesting island has many bays, beaches and reefs.
Lai Ywei Lay Lone
Here one can enjoy kayaking through the limestone caves and viewing the rock formations. It is also a good place for squid fishing.
Nga Lon Lett Phei
Nga Lon Lett Phei is full of amazing scenes for you to fill your camera with beautiful images. It is also famous as a snorkelling site because of its colourful coral reefs.
You can start your sailing holiday for the Mergui Archipelago with Schooner Dallinghoo in a number of locations, joining us in either:- Kawthoung, Mergui or Phuket.
The normal cruise starts in Kawthoung the gate way of Mergui Archipelago and located at the southern edge of Myanmar. The town was built by the British and named Victoria Point. The river named Perchan separates Kawthoung and Ranong in Thailand. Most of tourists come from Ranong to Kawthoung , the town certainly has atmosphere. You will find it to be a mixture of a British Colonial- and the Wild West. There will be plenty of time for sightseeing and shopping and exploring where you will find many colourful people are living there, among them Burmese, Thai, Malay, Indian and Chinese are prominent.
There are regular 1 hour 15 minutes flights from Yangon (Rangoon) to Kawthoung with Myanma Airways and Air Bagan. Air KBZ has daily flights during the tourist high season (beginning October to end of April) which fly from Yangon to Kawthoung (and return) stopping in Dawei and Myeik.
Visitors from Thailand could take a 30 minutes boat trips from Ranong (Thai border town) to Kawthoung. Nok Air a Thai budget airline makes regular flight from Bangkok to Ranong. It takes 4 hours to drive from Phuket or Samui to Ranong and there are plenty of taxi and minibus services doing this route daily as many expats living in Phuket use Ranong/Kawthrong for their regular visa extensions.
It is possible for guests to join Schooner Dallinghoo in Mergui, situated at the northern end of the archipelago. From here you can sail south through the islands and finish either back in Mergui or sail further south Kawthoung.
Getting to Mergui from Yangon is easiest by air however it is possible by road.
Myanma Airways has daily flights, and Air Bagan has 3 flights per week, from Yangon. Myanma Airways flights (typically once a week) from Mawlamyine and Kawthoung may also be available - check locally at the local Myanma Airways office. Air KBZ has daily flights during the tourist high season (beginning October to end of April) which fly from Yangon to Kawthoung (and return) stopping in Dawei and Myeik.
For longer charters guests start their cruise in Phuket embarking Schooner Dallinghoo at one of the many marinas or off one of a number of beaches some with suitable jetties. To cruise the Mergui Archipelago from Phuket is really only suitable for the longer charters as it involves a day's sail to get from Phuket to Kawthoung. This can be split up into two overnight sail and a stopover during the day at Koh Surin, one of Thailand's many National Marine Parks.
Phuket is one of South East Asia's main tourist hubs, offering beaches, hotels and all the trimmings that goes with these. It is serviced by a well-connected International Airport with not just regional flights but also direct long haul flights from Europe, the Middle East and Australia.