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- Burma Liveaboards, Phuket, Phuket*
For many divers, Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago is a paradise. Compared to it's neighbour Thailand, dive sites are deserted and you are unlikely to see another dive boat on your trip. In fact you are unlikely to see much of anyone other than a few sea gypsies.The diving is world class although the sharks that made the area famous are less abundant these days. Each dive offers the chance for new discoveries and many liken the quality of macro critters to Indonesia diving. It's not all small stuff though with sharks, manta rays and whalesharks making an appearance. Lucky divers also get to see squadrons of Mobula Rays. Some liveaboard trips focus purely on Burma but some also include the best Thailand dive sites of Richelieu Rock and Koh Bon in their itineraries.
- Mergui Travel, 165, 35th st., Yangon
Mergui Archipelago, located in southernmost part of Myanmar (Burma), comprises over 800 beautiful islands. Due to its virtual isolation, the islands and surrounding seas are alive with an amazing diversity of flora & fauna and very beautiful underwater scenes and marine life. 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.Mergui Archipelago, located in southern most part of Myanmar (Burma), comprises over 800 beautiful islands. Due to its virtual isolation, the islands and surrounding seas are alive with an amazing diversity of flora & fauna and very beautiful underwater scenes and marine life. Mergui Photo 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. Being affectionate to sea, much skilful in swimming and diving, their ways of life and customs are so characteristic that traditional festival will be launched intending to attract international tourists as well as to operate marine eco-tourism around the islands in Archipelago. Just north of the Surin Islands, an imaginary line divides Thai waters from Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago. Also known as the Archipelago, this immense area covers approximately 36,000 sp km (14,000 sq miles) and included roughly 800 islands. Diving here is still in its infancy, as the entire region has been off-limits to outsiders since the late 1940s. After several years of negotiation by Phuket dive operators, the archipelago was opened for tourism in 1997, yet much of the area remains unexplored. The islands are similar to their Thai counterparts, with rugged, high-profile limestone and granite topography. One obvious difference, aside from the sheer number of Myanmar islands, is their unspoiled terrestrial scenery. Dense brush 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. Though several of the larger islands are home to small communities of Moken 'sea gypsies,' the vast majority are uninhabited and largely untouched by humans. 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, however, is the tremendous variety of smaller fish and reef creatures, including many unusual species, some of which are rarely encountered in Thai waters. Add to this the allure of diving where few people have before and you've got all the ingredients for a top-notch dive destination. Considering the vast number of islands and reefs, many more dive sites are undoubtedly waiting to be discovered.