Diving the Mergui Archipelago and Burma Banks
| Myanmar

An extension of the same reef system that includes the Similans in Thailand, scuba diving around the islands that lie over the border in Myanmar waters is equally impressive. Just as full of small fish, possibly more pelagic creatures and equally pristine corals, the only reason these dives are less well known is due to the political situation in Myanmar.

Politics aside, many Thai liveaboard operators have special permits to cross over to the Mergui Archipelago and it is well worth seeing the reefs there. It's not that it's so different, with the conditions, visibility and so on much the same, but these reefs get far fewer divers and that makes it feel like there is so much more to discover. The most exciting site in this area is Western Rocky, a large pinnacle that is reminiscent of Richelieu Rock to the south – and yes, there are whalesharks there, too.

The other big attraction is the remote Burma Banks, which are well known for their shark populations. Although targeted by illegal fishing from time to time, the authorities have managed to gain some control and you are almost guaranteed to see nurse, silvertip, black and whitetip sharks. Most boats will conduct a controlled shark feed: you may not agree with this, but it one of the rare moments when you get to see these apex predators.

Burma Banks image gallery Scuba diving features

Marine Life whalesharks
nurse sharks

tiger tail seahorses
soft corals
Top dive site Western Rocky
Seasons November-May
Visibility 10 – 40 metres, sometimes more
Water temperature 25 – 29º C
Deco chambers Bangkok and Phuket
Flights to Phuket direct or via Bangkok or Singapore
Dive operators and accommodation plentiful on land but the last couple of years have seen a lot changes in the liveaboard scene.

Access to this region is via Phuket in Thailand, which is always easy. However, getting from there to Myanmar (Burma) means getting on a liveaboard. There is a wide variety of liveaboards for all budgets. All formalities for crossing the border will be handled by the crew so it doesn't actually feel like you are entering a different country.

Complete reports on this area are in
Diving Southeast Asia.

The digital edition is on iTunes.

Buy the print edition direct from SeaFocus here.

Dive sites are very similar to those further south in the Similans. The season is from November to May, although the beginning and end months can be rough and the visibility lower depending on when the monsoon hits. In the middle of the season the water is mostly mill-pond smooth and you can see for ever.
We've done this area twice, both times from a Thai liveaboard. The Mergui Archipelago is a wonderful extension to the dive sites to the south and we have seen animals there we would have been lucky to see anywhere else. An added bonus is that these reefs are also less visited and far less crowded. Some people might want to consider the current situation in Burma and the worldwide view on local politics.
More diving around Thailand
Phuket | Similans | Burma
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