Eight Enticing Water Adventures to Have While Sailing in the Southern Mergui Region
Yet to be discovered by many, the southern region of the Mergui Archipelago is a yacht adventurer’s dream destination to uncover gems of the Andaman Sea.
Having only just opened its waters to outside tourism in 1997, the Mergui Archipelago in post-British colonial Burma remains largely an off-the-beaten track destination in Southeast Asia. Known as Myek in Burmese, there are over 900 largely uninhabited islands, traversed by a select few yacht operators, and the notoriously reclusive sea gypsies, an ethnic minority group known as the Moken.
Unusual rock and limestone formations, mangrove jungles, unspoiled beaches, lagoons and spectacular coral reefs are just barely scratching the surface of exciting discoveries to be made in the Southern waters of the archipelago, to where most boat operators currently sail. Friendly fishermen are known to trade fish and tiger prawns for alcohol, and you might even run into a large family of Moken living in a small boat, or camping overnight on a beach.
With almost no luxury resorts or amenities available yet, boat charters are the only way to navigate the southern Mergui. The best time to visit is between November to April, and with help from Northrop and Johnson, we compiled 8 things you can do while sailing in the southern Mergui region.
Eight Water Adventures to Have While Sailing in the Southern Mergui Region
1 | Sample local delicacies at the fresh food market at Kawthoung
The first point of entry to your southern Mergui Archipelago exploration is border town Kawthoung, formerly known as Victoria Point. Hungry travellers seeking local bites before boarding their charter will be delighted by local delicacies at the fresh food market in Kawthoung: fried chicken, Burmese beer, fresh sugar palm juice and hand-rolled cigars are just symbolic of a good start to more island adventures.
2 | Go snorkelling and beach exploring on Pulau Bada, Caws and Potter Island
White sand beaches and sand spits await at the anchorage point between three islands, Bada, Caws and Potter, roughly 30 nautical miles northwest of Kawthoung. Get your snorkelling gear out to check out the surrounding reefs. At the northern end of Pulau Bada’s west beach is a small mangrove river going behind the beach all the way inland, into the mangroves, great for kayaking at high tide.
3 | Have an all-in one adventure at Great Swinton Island
Also known as Kyun Pila, Great Swinton Island is said to have everything to keep outdoor lovers entertained: beautiful beaches, fantastic scenery, challenging jungle walks, birds and local wildlife spotting, as well as great snorkelling and diving. There is a small waterfall near the east point and more mangroves. Along the northern bays of Great Swinton, you can dive and swim in Shark Cave, named for its inhabitants, the harmless reef sharks. In the evening, enjoy a beach bonfire and barbecue, prepared by your boat’s crew.
4 | Explore Lampi Island’s mangrove river by kayak
Venturing 15-20 nautical miles northeast will find you docking at Lampi Island, the largest island in the cluster designated as Lampi Marine National Park. It is mainly uninhabited, except for one or two small fishing villages. Here, you can get a closer look at the Mangrove River on the island’s west coast via kayak during high tide. The surrounding islands are also worth a visit if you are an avid bird enthusiasts: species like sea eagles, hornbills and fruit bats thrive here.
5 | Picnic at Waterfall Bay on Clara Island
Just next door to Lampi is Clara Island, one of the prettiest islands in the area with its own shell beach. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon bathing in the crystal cold waters of Waterfall Bay on the northwest side of the island. There is also a white sand beach nearby to dry off and even out that tan.
6 | Spot the ribbon eels on Loughborough Island
The rugged west side of this island is where a maximum of two yachts can anchor here for some island exploration. Take an easy hike to the top of the island, then head back down again for a dip in the water, alongside large rock structures forming gullies, long swim-through passages and overhangs. In shallow levels, fine table corals and other marine life hide amongst the boulders — although they are hard to spot, look closely at the sand, as you might find colourful blue, yellow or black ribbon eels poking their heads out, eyes bulging and mouths wide open. Loughborough is also where you might have a chance to encounter Moken and local fishermen at the small village and school on the northwestern bay.
7 | Laze all afternoon on Davis Island’s secret beaches
Densely wooded with two main peaks of about 450 m high, Davis Island is the largest of the scattered cluster of the Aladdin Group of Islands. The highlight here is that are many small beaches to discover as you sail around the island, and off the eastern shore rises a 5 metre high rock surrounded by a reef, making it perfect for snorkeling.
8 | Enjoy cocktails and a relaxing traditional massage at Myanmar Andaman Eco Resort
Before heading back to terra firma, you might want to make a stop at the Myanmar Andaman Eco Resort, the only island accommodation currently in operation on McLeod Island in the southern Mergui. Work off all the prior days of exciting activities with a traditional Thaneka massage while sipping cocktails. McLeod Island itself has a spectacular trekking trail, where the view at the top reveals an endless view of the Andaman, with islands of the Mergui Archipelago in sight, calling on travellers to embark on more sea adventures.
A preview of sailing in the Mergui on a catamaran:
For more information on booking a charter and customised itineraries, visit Northrop & Johnson.