Myanmar diving has only been open to tourism since the late 1990’s, and many of the Mergui Archipelago’s 800 islands remain unexplored and unspoilt.
Myanmar, previously known as Burma, has relatively recently become a dive destination.
The diving has risen in popularity as the country develops a reputation for uncrowded dive sites. There are opportunities for divers to swim with sharks, and also to spot some fantastic macro life. Since becoming a tourist destination in 1997, the Mergui Archipelago is becoming attractive. The unspoilt reefs and pinnacles support a vast range of marine life. Exploration of more and more reefs is being completed annually, resulting in the extraordinary diversity increasing yearly.
The Burma banks were the first area of Myanmar to open to tourism in the late 1980’s. The large seamount proved to be very popular with divers wishing to see the large quantity and variety of sharks in the area. Since then closer islands in the archipelago have opened to liveaboard cruises. The result was these magnificent creatures can now be seen closer to land with a more protected dive area.
The diving in Myanmar is only accessible for six months of the year so early booking of your liveaboard cruise is advisable.
Take a look at the Liveaboard Cruise options below.
Myanmar Diving - 10 LIVEABOARDS
Thai Sea liveaboard in Myanmar is a 20m wooden-hulled vessel that accommodates 12 guests comfortably on board. Completely refurbished in 2014, they provide a personalised service on board with dive group sizes of only 4 to 1 attentive staff during the remote Myanmar cruises. Accommodation consists of twin or double share fan-cooled cabins, all located on the middle or upper decks with shared bathrooms, ideal for the budget minded traveller with a sense of adventure.Book Now
Smiling Seahorse liveaboard in Myanmar and Thailand is new for the 2018 season as a replacement for the popular Thai Sea. The 25m steel hulled vessel has powerful engines to reach furtherafield destinations. She will accommodate 16 guests comfortably on board in 8 cabins. There is a choice of standard, deluxe and master cabins on board, all with climate control and doors opening to the outside of the vessel for a sea breeze.Book Now
Sea Gipsy Liveaboard in Myanmar is a 29 metre wooden constructed Burmese-style Junk vessel. She takes 10 guests for snorkelling and adventure liveaboard cruises. An unusual design she has no private cabins, but well-designed Gazebos that convert to open air sleeping areas with privacy curtains and mosquito nets. The huge sundeck has comfortable deck chairs and a shaded area. Meals are alfresco buffet style with Thai, Burmese and western cuisines.Book Now
Myanmar diving is only completed by liveaboard cruises due to the remote nature of the dive sites and the vast areas that need to be covered. The majority of trips do depart from Thailand rather than Myanmar itself. This means it is sometimes possible to combine the two countries in one fantastic dive cruise.
The archipelago itself is pretty much uninhabited except for a few Moken villages on the remote islands with jungle and white sand beaches.
Best Places to Dive in Myanmar
There are two main areas for diving in Myanmar, the Mergui Archipelago and the Burma Banks.
Since the archipelago was opened to tourism in the late 1990’s, trips to the once famous Burma banks are now a more rare occurrence. Many of the shark species once prevalent there can also be seen in the archipelago, reducing the need for the longer travel times and extreme open conditions the banks are known for.
There are a few Burma liveaboard cruises to the Burma Banks each year, but the majority will focus on the Mergui Archipelago.
Liveaboard diving in Myanmar is remote and offers divers the rare opportunity to be completely alone at dive sites, with dive boats almost always never reporting a sighting of another vessel throughout the trip.
Dive sites in Myanmar are still largely unexplored and are ever changing as the area the operators get the know the area more and more. Once famous for the fantastic shark life, now a tremendous macro presence is being reported, with seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish and many nudibranchs.
Larger pelagic species are still frequent visitor with manta rays and schooling mobula rays along with the occasional whale shark interspersed with the shark diving.
Best Dive Sites in Myanmar
This is one of the best dive sites in Myanmar, 12 hours cruise from the nearest land point it is a navigation point for a multitude of marine life. Manta and mobula rays are often seen circumnavigating the rock along with other rays including eagle and marble. Shark life includes leopard sharks along with black and white tip reef sharks are the occasional bull shark.
Another famous site that can be split into several dives each offering a unique environment and marine life. The most memorable is a tunnel/cavern dive through the centre of the island where nurse sharks are often found. Marine life here varies from the smallest shrimps to whale sharks.
There is a long swim through and cavern inside the rock island where sharks are found, giving the dive site its name. Great macro life is also found here on the reef along with cuttlefish.
This site descends into deep water and has both manta and mobula rays often circling the structure. The deep water is home to reef sharks with swim-throughs in the structure.
A diving highlight of Myanmar. The limestone structure is covered with soft corals and as the name suggests there is a high concentration of sea fans more than other dive sites of Burma.
Myanmar diving offers some uncrowded dive sites with excellent marine life, both macro and pelagic, with the benefits of departing from Thailand with great international travel hubs. For more information about Myanmar Dive Sites, please click on the photo.
Myanmar Scuba Diving Highlights
- Common sightings - Many shark varieties, manta rays, ornate ghost pipefish, cuttlefish
- Special sightings - Whale sharks, mobula rays, tiger shark
- Topography - Walls, drop-offs, pinnacles, caves, caverns and reefs
- Visibility - ranges from 5 to 40m+
- General information - Open to all levels but divers benefit from having an advanced certification on many sites and experience with currents.
- Onboard options - a land visit to Myanmar’s Victoria Point.
Best Time to Go
The Myanmar diving season is from mid October until mid-May. Outside of these times the sea becomes too rough for the boats to travel the long distances required to visit the dive sites.
At this time the sea is calmest from December to April, which coincides with the manta ray and whale shark season.
Water temperature is relatively consistent throughout the year at 26 to 27 Celsius. A 3mm shorty usually is sufficient, but a long suit works best if you are susceptible to the cold.
How to Get There
The majority of liveaboard cruises to Myanmar will depart from Thailand rather than Myanmar itself to ease the immigration and visa situation for guests. The usual ports are either Khao Lak or Ranong for the departure and are specified in each cruise departure details.
There a direct flight to Phuket, the closest airport to Khao Lak or transit can be via many of the Hubs in Asia such as Bangkok, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.
If the departure is from Ranong the closest airport is Ranong airport, a local flight from Bangkok is available here, or there is a 6-hour road transit from Phuket.
Local time vs GMT
What to pack
Food and drink
Burmese Kyat (MMK); USD is required for the visa
Your liveaboard operator will arrange the visa for Myanmar
Burmese and English is spoken in some areas
As most boats depart from Thailand, flying into Phuket (HKT) or Ranong (UNN) airport is advised
Suncream, lightweight, beach apparel with a light cover up for evenings
26 - 37 C daytime, 19 - 23 C evenings
Indian and Southeast Asian influenced