A strip of 800 tiny, jungle-clad islands lie off Myanmar’s southern coastline in splendid isolation. Thanks to the archipelago’s remoteness, it’s little touched by tourism, so the beaches are perfect and the coral reef teams with kaleidoscopic marine life.
Tired of Thailand? Bored of Boracay? If you’re in search of beautiful, pristine beaches untouched by humans, set sail for the emerald waters of the Mergui Archipelago. Spanning 400 km down the southern tail of Myanmar, 800 jungle-clad islands lie scattered across the Andaman Sea.
With little infrastructure connecting the tiny islands, there are few tourists here at all. Most islands are uninhabited, so your only company will be a sparse population of Burmese and the semi-nomadic Moken people, master free divers, who paddle from island to island living off the fish they catch.
Under water, it’s a whole different world. Imagine snorkelling over giant orange sea fans and a mosaic of coral reef. Turtles and dugongs live here as well as manta rays, who perform watery ballets, a captivating sight. If you’re an experienced scuba diver, venture further out where the continental shelf drops off into the deep sea beyond and shark sightings are almost guaranteed.
On the mainland, Myeik town has the brash, in your face character of a major safe harbour, ships dropping anchor here en-route between the Middle East and China. Muslims, Hindus, Christians; everybody’s travelled through here at some point, so the mingalabars (hellos) come thick and fast.