Mergui Archipelagos, located in southernmost part of Myanmar, comprises over 800 beautiful islands. Due to its viral isolation, the islands and surrounding seas are alive with amazing coral reefs and marine life. Made up of more than 800 islands which vary in size from smaller ones with just a few palm trees to larger islands of several hundred square kilometres, the archipelago offers great opportunities for exploration and diving amongst spectacular marine life and untouched coral reefs. Dense bush and rainforest cover most areas above the high-tide line, while vast stretches of mangroves and magnificent white-sand beaches are interspersed with rocky headlands, tidal creeks and a few freshwater rivers.
The islands of Mergui offer a wide variety of sights and adventurous activities, from hiking through tropical valleys to kayaking through mangroves and up rivers; the opportunities for exploration are almost limitless. And if you are after a more laid back time, you can simply jump in the water from your boat or wander along any of the hundreds of deserted white sand beaches. Underwater this region offers scenic reefs, fascinating topography and prolific fish and invertebrate life. One of the main attractions for divers is the strong possibility of seeing big animals, especially sharks and rays. More dependable is the tremendous variety of smaller fish and reef creatures.
The only human inhabitants in the area are sea gypsies, namely Salon in Myanmar. They live on boats during dry season and remain on land during rainy season. They still practice the same fishing and boat building techniques used for generation.
There are far too many islands in Mergui to describe here (and many have never been set foot on by tourists) but here are some of the highlights.
Lampi Island – established in 1995 as Myanmar’s first marine national park, Lampi is one of the most popular island for visitors to Mergui, rich as it is in biodiversity, mangroves and coral reefs. Lampi River offers great chance for kayaking and to witness some of the area’s exotic flora and fauna. Lampi is sometimes also known as Sullivan Island.
115 island – also known as frost island, this has a white sandy beach with crystal clear waters that are rich in hard coral and have thousands of sea urchins and small colourful tropical fishes around. 115 island offers opportunity for snorkelling, kayaking and jungle trekking on the island itself.
Phi Lar island – otherwise known as Great Swinton, this island has a number of totally uninhabited, white sand, palm-fringed beaches and some colourful coral reefs that are perfect for snorkelling.
There are four main places to stay on the islands of the archipelagos, all at the southern end to the west of Kawthaung: Myanmar Andaman Resort on MacLeod Island, the nearby Nyaung Oo Phee Resort with luxury tent style lodging, the further out Boulder Bay Eco Resort on Boulder Island and Wa Ale resort on Lampi Island. They are open from October to end of April and offer their own, limited, boat transport to the mainland.