Dive off the Beaten Track in Burma's Mergui Archipelago

Overall Rating

9.1

Marine Life
Professionalism
Sustainability
Value
7.5/10
10.0/10
9.0/10
10.0/10
MichaelLake
FR
Michael L verified review
Advanced Open Water Diver
100+ dives
9/10
almost 3 years ago

Spent an incredible week diving with these folks as we cruised amongst the many far-fetched islands. There's less marine life than other places - unfortunately due to the Burmese fishing practices. That said, there are incredible formations - swim-throughs and tunnels, and I've heard if you go on the longer tour, you'll see more marine life as they penetrate deeper into the Mergui Archipelago. It's really "out there" in terms of feeling like you're diving out on the frontier. That's half the excitement!! There's a certain magic with the crew. Down-to-earth, funny, and environmentally conscious. Glad to see their getting more active in promoting sustainability! I hope I get an opportunity to dive with these guys again

IsabelleBarbier
FR
Isabelle B verified review
Open Water Scuba Instructor
300+ dives
9.3/10
almost 3 years ago

Show Original (Français)

Beautiful dives in the middle of paradisiac islands. The topography is varied with many passages and caves, also beautiful drop offs. Turtles, juvenile sharks, numerous rays and of course seahorses, nudibranchs, lots of shrimps and crabs ... Magnificent night dives. Currents sometimes but that makes things interesting.   Very good instructors who know the sites perfectly and who put a superb atmosphere on the boat! The boat is brand new, many comfortable spaces to meet. Finally, the crew is very caring ... special mention to the chef for the barbecue and the pancakes!

Why we love it

The thrill of venturing away from the tourist crowds and deep into hundreds of relatively unexplored islands appeals to the adventurous spirit! Myanmar - also known as "Burma" - has been a long-time hermit kingdom and only recently permitted foreign charters to scuba dive their waters. Navigate the Mergui Archipelago and plunge into these magical clear waters with incredible macro life, swim-throughs, and tunnels. Spend your surface interval feeling like Robinson Crusoe on empty white-sand beaches.

Conservation

The boat runs cruises to remove abandoned fishing nets and lines with Ocean Quest Global in Myanmar, and expeditions with Manta Trust and others to identify whale sharks in Thailand. Longitude 181 Member. Reef-friendly toiletries on-board.

Who is it for?

Adventurous divers who like a variety of terrain and challenging conditions (i.e. "strong currents"). Most sites are suitable for deep dives. Other activities include kayaking, island exploration, eating great food(!), and chilling-out in between dives!

Prices and Dates

In the more expensive trip, you'll dive on a larger variety of sites as you go further north to Torres island, Princept, Tower Rock and The Sisters.

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What's included?

  • Double or twin share cabin
  • Up to 4 dives a day
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch, afternoon bites, dinner), soft drinks, drinking water, coffee & tea
  • Fresh fruit, yogurt, and snacks
  • 12 liter aluminum cylinders, weights, and weight belt
  • PADI Professional Dive Guide
  • Towel & shower gel
  • Shared sea kayak and hammocks

What's not included?

  • Limited-entry visa ($30 (about ... EUR))
  • Tourist "diving" permit ($200 (about ... EUR) to $250 (about ... EUR) per person depending on trip length)
  • Personal dive and travel insurance
  • Alcoholic drinks or cigarettes
  • Transfers to and from Ranong (available upon request for a fee)
Dive briefing!

Marine Life

  • Burmese waters only opened to outsiders in 1997 (there's still lots to discover!)
  • Over 800 islands sprinkled across 12,000 sq km of crystal-blue waters
  • The small: frogfish, crabs - spider crabs, decorative crabs, sponge crabs, etc. -, seahorses, nudibranchs, and many types of shrimp, including harlequin and marble shrimp
  • The large: barracudas, sting rays, turtles, manta rays, and nurse/reef sharks

Dive Conditions

  • Season: the only time to go is November to May
  • Currents: strong, changing currents
  • Visibility: 5 to 35 m (16 to 115 ft)
  • Water Temperature: 25° to 28°C (77° to 82°F)
  • Depth: both deep and shallow dives

Dive Sites

  • Gorgeous landscapes made of caves, soft and hard coral, incredibly rich wildlife and exclusive dive sites
  • Dive sites: Western Rocky, Sea fan forest, A secret spot, Mc Leod island, Volcano as known as Seahorse city, High Rock, Shark Cave, North twin, Black Rock, Torres Island - and also Torres island, Princept, Tower rock and The Sisters
  • These last four spots depend on the dates of the cruise chosen, with additional cost as they are more remote

The Team

  • Operation created in 2012
  • PADI-certified team offering PADI course instruction from beginner(Open Water) to Divemaster (upon request!)
  • Instruction is typically in French and English - ask us about other languages
  • Maximum of 4 divers per dive guide

Safety Information

  • Equipment Recommended: dive computer, surface marker buoy (SMB), and a whistle
  • Insurance: Both dive and travel insurance are mandatory. We partnered with DAN Europe - and can quote you a plan that covers both!
  • Nearest Hyperbaric Chamber: Phuket, Thailand
Visas, flights, and more!

Visa Requirements

For Thailand

  • Passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival

  • As of August 2017, citizens of France, USA, Japan, Canada, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and many other countries do not need a visa for stay of less than 30 days

  • Remember, the boat leaves Thailand and returns again - "resetting" the clock on your Thai visa

  • Verify your entry requirements from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand

For Myanmar (Burma)

You have two options, depending on where you want to finish your trip:

  1. Return to Thailand: In this case, the dive operator will handle your visa entry which is only valid for the Mergui Archipelago. They will handle the interaction with the Burmese immigration, but you'll need to supply the following:
    • $30 (about ... EUR) in US dollar bills
    • One recent passport-sized photo (no specific dimensions)
    • Passport
    • The diving fee mentioned above also with US dollar bills
  2. Remain in Myanmar: In this case, you'll wave goodbye to crew and fellow divers in Kawthoung, the port-side city on the Burmese side before everyone to Ranong. You'll still need to pay the diving fee, but instead of the Mergui-only visa mentioned above, you'll apply for an eVisa beforehand which grants entry to visit other places in Burma.

NOTE: Be sure to bring clean, new, unmarked, unfolded, and undamaged US currency

How to get there

  • Ranong, Thailand, is the lesser-visited port-side city where the boat leaves from.
  • The easiest and fastest way to get there is to catch a flight with Air Asia or Nok Air from Bangkok Don Muang Airport (DMK) which is about an hour's drive away from Bangkok's international airport.

More...

Bring reef-safe sunscreen, a hat, mosquito repellent, a rash guard, and a sweater or light-weight jacket

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