|Diving reveals underwater worlds of
ADVENTURE travel has in the past several years grown in popularity
throughout the world as a means to counteract the boredom of everyday
Tourists have ranged far and wide to find destinations that provide
thrilling alternatives to tedious, sedentary vacations.
Many have achieved their goal by strapping on diving gear and
plunging into the ocean to explore an underwater world that is
far from their day-to-day lives.
Myanmar’s 2832-kilometre-long coastline – from the
mouth of the Naff River on the border with Bangladesh to the north,
to the meeting point of the southern tip of Tanintharyi Division
and Thailand to the south – offers an excellent variety
of coral reefs and pelagic, or deep-water, areas for scuba diving.
The two most important emerging dive sites in Myanmar are Ngwe
Saung Beach on the Bay of Bengal, and Myeik Archipelago in Tanintharyi
Division, where more than 800 pristine islands are spread over
1400 square kilometres.
The diving season lasts from November to April, which is also
the peak time for tourist visits.
“January and February are the best months for diving,”
said Ma Aye Thandar, the office manager of Myanmar Treasure Beach
Resort, which is owned by Htoo Trading Company.
The resort has been providing diving services near islands off
Ngwe Saung Beach since 2002.
She said the diving sites near the beach offer abundant coral
reefs, as well as deep-water areas where tuna, groupers and other
fish can be found.
The resort can take clients to three sites – Birds Island
(South Calventuras Island), Second Island (North Calventuras Island)
and Third Island (Northwest Group of Calventuras Island). They
are considered secure for divers and free from dangerous marine
“We have a 12-member diving team led by a Myanmar dive
master, U Nay Tun,” said Ma Aye Thandar.
She said they lead at least five groups of clients a month during
Groups must consist of at least for people. The two-day trip
costs US$60 a person for guests of the hotel. The fee includes
a professional dive assistant, air tanks, weight belt, round-trip
boat service, lunch and drinking water.
The fee for clients staying at other hotels is $70.
The first day starts at 8am and takes clients on a 90-minute
boat ride to two of the dive sites, while the third is visited
on the second day, Ma Aye Thandar said.
Htoo Trading Company plans to expand its operations to Myeik
Archipelago, where pristine islands harbouring abundant birdlife,
wildlife and spotless beaches are surrounded by crystal-clear
“We are not yet sure whether it has top-class dive sites
or not, but it will become a prime destination for marine tourism,”
said Ma Aye Thandar.
Some sites in Myeik Archipelago are already well-known among
|A client prepares to enter the water
at Ngwe Saung.
Western Rocky, 80 kilometres off the coast, is considered one
of the country’s best places for shark sightings. The Black
Rock pinnacle offers an excellent variety of reef life, including
silvertip sharks and manta rays. There are also beautiful soft
coral formations in the deeper areas. The Burma Banks are a collection
of seamounts that rise to within 15 metres of the ocean surface
and harbour a large population of silvertip sharks.
Most dive excursions to the archipelago are currently operated
by Phuket-based Thai businesses, with clients sailing into Myanmar
waters and staying on the boats between dives.
Ma Aye Thandar said the company plans to improve the tourist
infrastructure in the area by adding hotel accommodation and upgrading
transportation to facilitate tours operated from the Myanmar side.
The company also plans to promote its dive sites to draw more
tourists from around the world, she said.
Myanmar-based diving trips to Myeik will be offered this season
by Shambhala Tours, Shan Yoma Travels and Tours, and Moby Dick
The development of sustainable tourism will help preserve the
environment in the archipelago, said Mr John Arbidans, the marketing
manager of Moby Dick Tours.
Illegal dynamite fishing in the area threatens to destroy the
pristine nature of the water and islands.
“The problem is the hotels in Kawthoung [at the southern
tip of Tanintharyi Division] are not very good, but there are
plans to build more, so the situation will change,” said
Once there is accommodation to support tourism, the number of
flights to the area will increase, he said.
Myanma Airways, under the Ministry of Transport, is the only
airline that offers daily flights to Kawthoung during high season.
Moby Dick organises sailing and diving package tours at prices
ranging from $1140 to $1520. The cost includes six or eight nights
of accommodation on board the company’s boat Colona II,
food, water and a diving guide.