Nowhere else on Earth’s tropical belt has retained an out-of-this-world mystique like the Mergui Archipelago. This untouched cluster of more than 800 islands in southern Burma, where species long extinct elsewhere leave the sands’ only footprints, has somehow survived unspoiled despite bordering one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Politics closed off this wilderness after the Second World War; only in recent years have sports divers and tourists started trickling in, curiously captivated by this unknown land. The calm clear waters teem with Manta rays, turtles and sharks, and March and April dives give sightings of Humpback and Sperm whales. The islands, palm fringed with powder white sand like the Seychelles, are reputedly the last South East Asian refuge for elephants and tigers, hunted to extinction on every other corner of the continent. The near extinct Sumatran rhinoceros, smallest of the species, reportedly still silently grazes on the lush undergrowth of pristine rainforests of one of Lampi Island. The only human inhabitants are sea nomads who have lived the same hunter-gatherer existence for centuries and spend six months of the year at sea in their houseboats.
Known as the Moken people, these shy, peaceful tribes have turned their backs upon modernity, living primitive lives free from material desires.
They’re born on the sea, live on the sea and die on the sea, and they know its moods and motions better than any marine biologist. However, after being undisturbed for decades, the friendly Moken are playing witness to a steady increase in visitors who keep a distance, bewildered and yet captivated to see these traditional tribes go about their seafaring ways. The South East Asian continent is luring an increasing number of luxury yachts away from the saturated waters of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean where 90-% of the world’s super yachts are crammed into the same small stretch of sea. And it is precisely what the Mergui Archipelago is offering which is steering the yachts away from Thailand’s tourist trail and crowded beaches. Cavern Island, an idyllic setting of inlets and caves perfect for sea kayaking, boasts one of the most spectacular beaches in the archipelago. And not far from here is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mergui Archipelago, called Great Swinton Island. Clear waters cover colourful coral reefs, which provide habitat from giant turtles, sea snakes, sharks and Manta Rays. Near by is reputedly one of the top dive spots, known as ‘In Through The Out Door’. This big swim through is home to more than ten Grey Reef sharks and the majority of the dive is spent being buzzed by these magnificent creatures. A family of four-metre long Nurse Sharks also call this cave home and dancing Sea Horses are said to be very common. Another fine destination, and a firm favourite with the tourists, is Lampi, one of the largest islands and Myanmar’s first designated Marine National Park. Dense stands of mangroves towering 25-metres high provide a tranquil and mysterious setting for sea kayaking at high tide. Lampi and surrounding islands form a 200 square kilometer conservation area that supports a range of threatened marine animals including dugong, whales and dolphins, and sea turtles. The Park also protects good stands of evergreen forests, as well as mangroves and tidal swamp forests, and coral reefs. The Mergui Archipelago is a nature lover’s wonder; a tropical paradise unspoiled and protected. And regardless of the route you plan, your sailing trip around these unchartered waters is one that will never fade from your memory.Your charter will take you sailing under glittering stars by night and waking to a different dream destination every day.
Population: 47 million (89% Buddhist and the rest are made up of Christians & Muslim)
Language: Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages.
Weather/ When to go: The islands are under the influence of the SE monsoon from April toOctober and the NW monsoon from November to March which is the best time to travel.
Currency: Kyat (K) of 100 pyas Attraction: