The Andaman Sea is famous for its beauty – in many ways it represents the quintessential postcard-perfect paradise of reef-fringed islands floating in turquoise water. Its coastlines are characterized by powdery white beaches and thick coconut groves, while the monsoons retreat each year to reveal lush forests and clear blue skies. Much of the Andaman coast has been heavily developed for tourism – the Thailand portion in particular – but, somewhat miraculously, there’s still a place in the Andaman that remains largely untouched: Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago.
Located along Myanmar’s far southern edge, the Mergui Archipelago – also called the Myeik Archipelago – comprises around 800 uninhabited islands. The region is known as the home of the ‘Moken’; nomadic sea-faring people who spend half the year at sea, and this beautiful cluster of Andaman islands only opened to tourism as recently as 2006, with much of the area yet unmapped and completely untouched by development. The area’s relative isolation has helped conserve its natural beauty, and as a result the Mergui islands are richly bio-diverse with rainforests, mangroves, and pristine marine and coastal ecosystems framed by striking limestone cliffs. Abundant native animal species thrive in its waters and on land.
The only real way to explore the Mergui Archipelago is by boat as accommodation options are severely limited in this remote part of the world. On a sailing tour through the Mergui Archipelago you can explore these idyllic tropical waterways at a leisurely pace, drifting from one amazing island to the next, stopping off to snorkel unspoiled reefs, wander deserted beaches, visit local Moken communities and trek through monkey-filled forests.
A highlight of any trip is a visit to Lampi Island – one of the largest islands in the archipelago, known for its bio-diverse forests and clear blue waters. Here you can to visit a Moken village to fully appreciate their nomadic “sea gypsy” lifestyle and understand more about their unique culture and important role in the region. Pila Island is also a must-see in the Mergui Archipelago, where you can enjoy a walk through its jungle trails, try your hand at tuna fishing or simply relax on the island’s deserted shores. Spot hornbills and giant lizards or snorkel the reefs just offshore.
With more than 800 islands, you are assured long stretches of deserted beach when you visit the Mergui Archipelago. The islands of the Mid Group are some that particularly stand out for their beautifully serene stretches of sand, not to mention countless hidden coves, quiet harbors and lush fig tree groves. Zadetkyi Island, too, is a spectacular stop-off. Around the island itself you’ll find fantastic reefs for snorkelling and on the way there you might even spot a pod of dolphins.
If it’s snorkeling you’re after, the Mergui Archipelago is one of Asia’s best-kept secrets. Well off the usual tourist trail, islands such as Say Tan and Macleod offer teeming reefs, their restricted access meaning you may just have them all to yourself. In the ocean, Hawksbill turtles and otters plumb the depths, while onshore, virgin rainforests brim with wildlife – Muntjac deer, heron, pythons, dusky leaf monkeys, and even wild boar. The Mergui Archipelago holds countless treasures for eco-travelers and nature-lovers.
If you would like explore the untouched islands of the Mergui Archipelago, contact one of our Myanmar based expert Travel Specialists who can advise on your tailor-made sailing trip into Myanmar’s secret island paradise.