Sunday, 25 February 2018

Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago Adventure

Scattered across 36,000 square kilometres in the Andaman Sea, the 804 islands of the Myeik Archipelago comprise one of the most unspoilt tropical seascapes anywhere on earth. The islands, mostly uninhabited, are home to some of the last Sundaic rainforest along with rare wildlife and birds. The seas are clear, unpolluted and scattered with coral reefs. The beaches are of powder-fine silver sand; the only footsteps, your own.

The Myeik Archipelago sees almost no foreign visitors to its islands. Our island-hopping adventure tours use live-aboard boats to take you to some of the most enchanting islands, where you can sunbath on gorgeous empty beaches, snorkel colourful reefs, climb to hilltop viewpoints through verdant rainforest and kayak up mangrove-lined rivers, and into limestone sea caves. There is even cultural interest; this is the home of the Salon, otherwise known as the Moken or ‘Sea Gypsies’. Born divers, they live on, and make their living from the sea

Mr Myanmar Travel can organise trips to the islands starting from Kawthoung, at the southern tip of Myanmar, Myeik and the Thai town of Ranong. Island-hopping adventures last from three to six days and offer a variety of activities. These adventures do not have a schedule of departure dates – there are just too few people travelling here! We can charter a boat for you or you can join one of the few departures each year that have spare cabins. If you would like to join an existing departure, please contact us as far in advance as possible so that we can keep your details and let you know available departure dates as they are arranged.

The most popular Adventure is the six day, five night itinerary departing from and returning to Kawthoung. It is possible to add this onto a tour of Myanmar’s more traditional sites; flights link Yangon with Kawthoung twice a week. The adventure begins with a pick-up at the airport and transfer to Myoma Jetty where your boat will be waiting. Alternatively, it is possible to cross the border from and to Thailand. If you wish to do this, please let us know in advance as we may have to organise a permit for you.

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1.
Embark your boat at Myoma Jetty, Kawthoung and cruise northwest to No. 115 Island. Lunch will be served onboard en-route. After lunch, kayak to the sea caves, hike the forest, bird watch, snorkel the reef or just relax on the gorgeous beach. Later, continue onward to Nyaung Wee Island where you anchor offshore for dinner.

Day 2.
After breakfast, go ashore to the village or enjoy a swim off the mile-long beach. We then continue to Bo Cho Island at Makyone Galet village, overlooking Lampi National Park. Spend the afternoon on the island; talk with the local Salon people, relax on the beach or trek in the forest.

Day 3.
After a night onboard, have breakfast and depart for Kubo Island. Here you can walk the forest trails before lunch, and your onward departure to Salet Galet. On arrival at this gorgeous, and deserted channel, you can set off by kayak to explore the mangrove river of Lampi Island. Spend the evening on a white-sand beach before dinner onboard.

Day 4.
You will have time for some snorkelling this morning in the channel, before re-boarding the boat and departing for Kyun Phila. This beautiful island has it all; forest and wildlife, clear seas and excellent snorkelling. There is even good fishing here. If you are lucky enough to catch something the crew will cook it up for you on the beach at nightfall. Overnight in tents on the beach.

Day 5.
Sail in the morning to the Cavern Islands. Then spend the day kayaking into the sea caves of these pretty limestone islands, and climbing to the pinnacles for views over the Andaman Sea to the archipelago. Dinner is onboard the boat, anchored offshore.

Day 6.
Spend your last morning relaxing on the beach before departing for Kawthoung. Lunch will be served onboard and as you approach the southern tip of Myanmar, the crew will open a bottle of champagne to toast your arrival.

Recommended Islands.
No. 115 Island.

Also known as ‘Forest Island’, No.115 is 39 miles (62km) northwest of Kawthaung, about 4 or 5 hours by boat. It is known primarily for its powder white sand beaches, crystal-clear water and coral gardens, teeming with small reef fish – this is a great place to snorkel and sunbath. On the south side of the island are two tidal caves, populated by swiftlets, which are accessible by kayak at low tide. There is also a jungle trail which leads from one side of the island to the other and is good for bird watching. The island is particularly known for its population of kingfishers.

Nyaung Wee Island.

Also known as Buda Island, this is a larger island with dense forest-clad mountains. The western shore of the island boasts a mile-long beach and a mangrove forest, perfect for beachcombing, swimming and kayaking. On the south side of the island is a village populated by a mixture of peoples; Mon, Kayin, Bamar and Salon. Most people are fishermen but this is also a trading village for foodstuffs, boat spares and diesel. This is an interesting place to spend an hour or two, experiencing life in a remote trade centre.

Bo Cho Island.

This island, also known as Nala Island, is located just south of Lampi Island National Park. Makyon Galet village on the north side of the island overlooks the narrow strait, and is an excellent place to encounter the Salon people (Moken, or Sea Gypsies). Many Salon live here year-round but others still live on their boats, travelling the archipelago and sheltering here during storms. After exploring the village walk to the south side of the island with its mile-long sandy beach, which attracts crab-eating macaques at low tide. The beach overlooks three islands; Gugyi, No. 3 and Linshu – which has an unusual and beautiful round-shape beach.

No. 60 Island.

This is a tiny island with no recognised name, just a number. The attraction here is underwater; some of the archipelago’s best snorkelling opportunities lie just offshore. The water is crystal clear and the coral, including 3 metre diameter coral tables, grows almost to the shoreline.

Kubo Island.

Nestled in the shadow of Lampi Island, this beautiful island is an exception in that it has no attractive beaches. On the south side of the island is a freshwater well, used by travelling Salon to replenish their supplies. The attraction for travellers however, is the spectacular sight of hundreds of hornbills flying home to roost at sunset ... and even more flying foxes leaving their trees to scour the forests for food.

Lampi Island.

A national park and ASEAN heritage site, beautiful, unspoilt Lampi Island is a highlight of a visit to the archipelago. Curving like a boomerang, 48 kilometres long and only 6 kilometres wide, the island is the centre of a marine park that covers some 370,000 hectares. The island itself boasts 10 attractive beaches and is covered with rainforest. Elephants and crocodiles are said to still inhabit the island, along with a profusion of tropical birds. Some 520 marine species have been noted in the seas around the island including 4 species of sea cucumber.

A top attraction for visitors is the kayak trip along a 12 kilometre long, mangrove-lined river where it is possible to see monkeys, snakes, birds ... and perhaps a crocodile. Walking trails lead into the dense forest including one that leads to the island’s highest point at 463 metres. As you can imagine, the views over the island and archipelago are stunning.

Wa Ale Island.

Just off the coast of Lampi Island, this is another good site for snorkelling. The best area is off the west side of the island where the sea is around 10 – 15 metres deep. There is wildlife on this island too – you may see the footprints of animals in the white sand, and the island is also a nesting ground for rare turtles. A trail leads up through the forest to the top of a rainforest clad hill which provides a panoramic view towards Lampi, Clara and Black Islands.

Salet Galet.

This is the three kilometre-long, 150 metre wide channel (Galet) that separates Lampi and Wa Ale islands. The scenery here varies from steeply-sloping, forest cloaked hills to mangrove forest and coral gardens. This is yet another good snorkelling site – the waters of this protected channel are calm even and stable even in stormy weather.

Kyun Phila (Great Swinton) Island.

Northwest of Nyaung Wee Island is this gem, one of the most beautiful islands in the whole archipelago. The island is surrounded by clear turquoise waters and boasts high visibility, 15-20 metres to the coral below, making for excellent snorkelling. There are two main beaches; a mile-long beach in the north of the island and another half-mile beach in the southwest, near the best site for snorkelling. The island is also noted for its forest and wildlife, featuring wild boar, snakes, monitor lizards and wildcats. Divers also know this area: The famous ‘Shark Cave’, an underwater home to nurse and grey reef sharks lies 4.5 kilometres to the west.

Cavern (McCarthy) islands.

Another popular stop, the Cavern Islands are located south of Jar Lann (Loughborough) Island. The highlight of these limestone outcrops is the spectacular sea caves, which can be accessed by sea kayak at low tide. It is also possible to trek up to the island pinnacle, via a trail that features small streams and waterfalls.


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