First step to discover Burma for an affordable price. Discover the south of the Mergui archipelago with a wide variety of sights : caves, fields of soft corals, macros and pelagics. We will cruise through South Twin, North Twin, Shark Cave, Ba Wei, Seafan Forest, Western Rocky and Volcano Island.
6 days / 5 nights – 17 dives
Standard cabin (shared cabin) : 39.000 THB / diver
Approx. currency conversion (additional exchange and transfer fees depends on your bank or operator) : starts at*
Master cabin (shared cabin) : 40.000 THB / diver
Non divers 20 % off the trip price (starts at 31.200 THB)
Enriched air Nitrox FREE for certified scuba divers (certification on cruise available)
Entry and visa fees for Burma / Myanmar : 220 USD per passenger to pay onboard
Cleared in Ranong around 6 PM
Day by day description of where we go and where we dive including dive site topography, possible marine life encounters and general activities on the cruise.
Meet between 10 and 12 AM with your luggage in our shop in Ranong, try out equipment if required and sign in for the cruise.
Have ready passport, diving certificates, insurance information, equipment rental and other balances to pay and US$ for Burma permits.
Time for some last minute shopping, sightseeing, enjoy a local lunch or have a coffee and WiFi before we pick you up.
2 PM we pick you up at our shop or at a café/restaurant.
We check out of Thailand and about 3 PM your liveaboard cruise begin and it is time to explore MV Thai Sea – your home for the cruise.
Half an hours cruising and we arrive in Kawthaung and Burma / Myanmar for entry formalities and then off we steam into the sunset and Mergui Archipelago.
Dinner onboard and after our first night on the boat we wake up in the middle of Mergui Archipelago and a completely different world from what you left behind. Scuba Diving time and maybe a morning Manta Ray or a sleepy Whale Shark ?
4 dives around South Twin and North Twin Islands and visiting the famous dome of North Twin Pinnacle
First dive is an easy test dive around South Twin and we look at the conditions of the day to see where will be the best option for dive number 2, 3 and for number 4. Our first night dive will be in a nice comfortably sheltered spot.
There are numerous dive sites around both South Twin and North Twin so plenty of really good places to choose from.
In the afternoon, there could be some time to get out of our scuba gear and explore a deserted tropical beach in one of the many pristine bays on North Twin or South Twin..
Depths between 5 and 40+m and usually stunningly 20-40m visibility. Currents mild to strong.
Both North Twin and South Twin Islands and the surrounding dive sites are granite rock.
Dive sites are generally big rounded boulders with some of massive proportions. Some creating swim through and hiding places for both fishes and scuba divers alike. Soft and hard corals are scattered around the dive sites in great diversity.
Some rocks go all the way to the surface and some stay submerged by a few to several meters.
Some dive sites start below the surface so when submerged in the middle of the blue, a new world opens up with a huge beautiful dive site not visible from the surface. Some of them can bring you all the way into the sandy beaches in the bays of North Twin and South twin and are excellent sheltered for night dives.
Lots of stunning raising bearing rocks resembles moon landscapes and in other areas Gorgonian Sea Fans make up whole forests in the rocky landscape.
South Twin and North Twin offer as well as many different dive sites a great diversity in marine life to go along.
We always keep one eye out in the blue. Manta Rays and Whale Sharks have been known to frequent these dive sites from time to time.
Cousins to the Manta Rays like Eagle Rays, Marbled Rays, Jenkin ́s Rays and the most common the Kuhl’s Stingrays are to be found on the bottom so don’t forget to keep an eye on the sand too.
Large schools of colorful Fusiliers patrol the inner reef in abundance. Especially in the current part of the dive sites where you can always find the most fishes when scuba diving.
Further out schools of predators like Jacks, Barracudas, Tunas and Rainbow Runners patrol the outer waters.
On the inner reefs you find all the colorful reef fishes of The Andaman Sea like Nemo, Damsel Fishes in all kinds of colors, Parrot Fishes, Puffer Fishes and all the other usual suspects. Reef Octopus and Cuttlefishes like to hang out on these dive sites. Sometimes even a resident Green Turtle or Hawksbill Turtle come to check us out.
The diversity displayed for scuba divers in The Mergui Archipelago is amazing.
Macrolife is always a treat all over The Mergui Archipelago so if you are a macro lover or in to macro photography it is heaven submerged. All kinds of shrimps and crabs in all kind of shapes and wonderful outfits are hiding in the coral and the cracks. Especially our night dive can offer some extra time to study “the little people”
Look for Nudibranchs, Seahorses, Ghost Pipefishes, Harlequin Shrimps and Frogfishes hiding in cracks and crevices. Sometimes they amazingly just pop up in full display right out in the open but most of the time some detecting is necessary.
3 amazing dive sites here: Shark Cave, Square Rock and Submarine. All nice dive sites and so close to each other we dive one group, one dive site and spread out across the 3 dive sites. Your group will be diving all alone on these dive sites most of the time.
Shark Cave has outlived its name. There are rarely Sharks in the cave like there was before but the cave is still a nice thrill.
Right above the Shark Cave a canyon runs through Shark Cave Island so there are two ways to swim through the island and end up the same place like 2 submerged shortcuts.
Submarine does from the right angle with a touch of imagination and a pinch of Thai whiskey – or both – look like Nautilus from 20000 Leagues Under The Sea. The dive site is like on a submarine considerably larger underneath than the small rock breaking the surface.
Square rock is the smaller of the dive sites if you do not count the 2 hidden pinnacles we sometimes visit. Even this smaller of the dive sites can never been seen in one dive. You can visit the coral garden or hang on the walls of the main rock or you can go visit the secret pinnacles all in just one of the 3 dive sites.
Shark or no Shark – the dive sites around Shark Cave are always nice to visit.
Depths between 5 and 40+m and usually around 15-25m visibility. Currents mild to strong.
Shark Cave, Square Rock and Submarine are all limestone so full of caves, crevices and cracks making it heaven for macrolife, macro lovers and macro photographers.
In 3 places the limestone rock raises above the surface marking the 3 dive sites. Not much sticking out but it is almost all connected below the surface by numerous pinnacles. Some places the main rocks are vertical walls and in other places it looks like the wall have collapsed and left sloping piles of limestone against the main rock.
Between and around the main rocks pinnacles are scattered around. Some deep and smaller and some raises up to just 4m below the surface at low tide. We think there still might be some around we have not located yet so you might be in for a surprise
The sandy bottom is from 12 to 25m near the main rocks but slopes down the further you go out and 40+m is reached quite close all around and still sloping down.
Shark Cave might not have sharks in the cave too often but there is a good chance to spot one of the resident Bamboo Sharks hiding in a check or between the rocks. A few times on Square Rock we have even been lucky enough to see them out hunting at night – pretty amazing.
Against expectations Whale Sharks have been spotted here on numerous occasions but we have never seen Manta Rays here so you might be the first on one of our cruises.
Around Shark Cave we have found Pineapple Fish as one of the few places in The Mergui Archipelago. We have found it in other places and in Thailand on one occasion at Richelieu Rock but it is considered quite rare in both our cruises in Burma or Myanmar or on our liveaboard safaris in Thailand.
Around Submarine look out for Wahoo amongst the usual predators like Jacks and Rainbow Runners. In between Submarine and Shark Point you almost always find schools of different kinds of Barracudas above the Kuhl’s Rays who tend to rest in the sand at day time. Marbled Whiprays can be found in the sand as well close to the major rocks or hiding in one of the many cracks around the dive site In the cracks and around we quite often find both Yellow and Black Tigertail Seahorses and their cousin The Ornate Ghost Pipefish. If we do not find them at daytime, on our night dives they tend to stand out more so you have a good second chance to maybe even find one yourself.
On night dives some of the areas of the dive sites have so many red eyes from shrimps and crabs that it looks like the stars of the sky – not special for the spices of marine life but the shear masses of them is amazing. Spider Crabs are common here and come in different patterned, decorative and colorful attached outfits.
For the species of crabs, shrimps and the number and diversity of Nudibranchs scuba diving around Shark Cave is amazing.
EXTRA stop Around Shark Cave – option 1
On this day we do not just spend the day at anchor waiting for our next underwater adventure. We go and visit the nearby Kyun Pila Island.
We need to stuck up on shower water and while we are doing so you can get out of your scuba gear and go visit the local Moken Sea Gypsy Village in Kyun Pila Island.
Nothing there to buy but you get really close to this authentic village of genuine Moken Sea Gypsies. Not the old style traditional (or should I say outdated traditional) way of living of their boats. This is more “modern” style village with real houses and even a Pagoda on a hilltop. The Moken Sea Gypsies still make their living from fairly simple fishing methods using their traditional long tail boats. Smaller really old style canoes, made from one log of timber, are used by the kids for fun and from the adults for shorter trips.
A scenic stop and a visit to world only accessible on these remote Islands in Mergui Archipelago and few places further south in Thailand and Malaysia.
Or EXTRA stop Around Shark Cave – option 2
After 3rd dive we offer a second trip to Kyun Pila Island but this time to Long Beach. Same island but on another side and in a whole different world. In between the two worlds we pass by Kyun Pila North Bay and the new 5 stars Awei Pila Mergui Archipelago resort just opened in 2018.
As the name suggests this is a long beach in a so far untouched bay. There is a small “Island” in the middle of the bay and on low tide you can sometimes walk to the small island. The sun goes down over the mountains on the left side of the bay while we prepare to cruise out for our last dive of the day around Shark Cave.
A treat to visit such a beautiful and yet pristine place still in its natural beauty. Not many of those places left anywhere but The Mergui Archipelago have still some.
Dive sites around both Ba Wei and Pink Canyon are limestone formations like most of The Mergui Archipelago.
Especially around Ba Wei we have some amazing underwater passages we visit whenever currents and waves allow. And if you do not fanzy going in the passages we always option to stay out in “the open”.
We can from Ba Wei reach some 6 different dive sites like Spanish Garden, Dragon Island, Tower Rock and more, so we have a lot of choices here and we might come up with a surprise dive site on this day.
Pink Canyon is a relatively new dive site to us but it has been pleasantly nice to dive, so we decided you should have the opportunity as well. There are more interesting spots to explore around here so you might be lucky that we have found new amazing dive sites around when you arrive with MV Thai Sea.
With the number of dive sites around Ba Wei and possibilities around Pink Canyon we will for sure not run out of dive sites on this day of the safari.
Depths between 5 and 40+m and usually around 10-30m visibility. Currents mild to strong.
With the amount of different dive sites we can pick and choose from around Ba Wei alone, describing the individual topography will be too much. You get a more general description of what it looks like around Ba Wei and Pink Canyon.
You can on some of the dive sites around Ba Wei swim in through the limestone rock and come out in another area or even on the other side of an Island. Some of these swim throughs are big, easy and short and some are more challenging and longer. The longer ones all have in common that we only do them when conditions are in our favour for safety reasons. There is always the option to NOT do the swim through if so desired. We know that not all divers like overhung environment so of course all swim through are always only an option.
Pink Canyon is a huge limestone rock breaking the surface close to the main Island. The canyon between got huge limestone rocks where some of them go all the way to the surface and others stay submerged as pinnacles. On the outside the main rock have scattered rocks around from about 18m in the fast sloping sand and you quickly reach 30+m still sloping down. In most areas Pink Canyon is covered in beautiful miniature soft corals. The amazing colors of these small coral has given Pink Canyon it’s colorful name.
In many areas around both Ba Wei and Pink Canyon we find shelter dive sites suitable for easy dives and night dives. A favorite area of ours with so many different options in only one day.
We could with so many dive sites just name all the fish in the book. The diversity we can encounter around her is amazing.
The big boys like Giant Manta Rays and Whale Sharks will have to pass somehow to get south/north from the hotspots in Mergui Archipelago in Burma or Myanmar, and to the more southern hot spots in Thailand. The same individuals are identified both places so they have to move in between. Whale Sharks have been spotted at Ba Wei, but it is a rare occasion and so far we have not been lucky to spot Giant Manta Rays around here. They must pass though so you might be the lucky one.
We do however sometimes find the resident Nurse Sharks in their secret hiding places around Ba Wei. A few of the ones we see are the big boys at around 3m sleeping their day away. We approach always very slowly not to disturb these sleeping beauties.
Lots of hunting fishes around like Barracudas, Jacks and Rainbow Runners but we see them less around here and have our eyes turned towards the reefs themselves.
With limestone on all dive sites of course we are blessed not only with amazing swim through but also with numerous cracks and crevices for marine life to hide in. Pipefishes, Shrimps, Crabs and other critters are here in abundance for the joy of macro lovers. We find as well here a Sponge Slug called a Maldivian Sponge Snail and in the early common fish identification books it was thought to be endemic to The Maldives. We do however find it here in The Mergui Archipelago in Burma as well. Pink Canyon got our attention when we head about a special Nudibranchs found here. Come see if we are lucky and find it for you. We have never seen it in other places in The Mergui Archipelago and we will leave the species as a surprise so come join the hunt.
On night dives in this area we have several times been treated with the amazing Spanish Dancer so look out for this majestic foot long Nudibranch in this area specially on your night dive.
EXTRAS around Ba Wei and Pink Canyon
Around Ba Wei we do not only find many dive sites. We also find a couple of pristine beaches of white coral sand in picture perfect bays. When possible we make a stop in one of these bays for snorkeling or to go and visit the beach. Set your footprint in The Mergui Archipelago before everybody does so and watch it taken again by the waves. A small track leads through the jungle like vegetation to a smaller bay and beach on the other side. Nice to explore the island and to step on coral sand and solid ground again, even just for a short break.
A nice way to spend a surface interval between dives and get a chance to enjoy the Islands themselves in The Mergui Archipelago. A piece of untouched nature just waiting for you in Burma or Myanmar.
Sea Fan Forest is an enormous submerged granite boulder. Western Rocky is limestone rock on both the main Island and the surrounding rocks and pinnacles. Both of them some of the “original” very famous dive sites in The Mergui Archipelago and a must to visit while scuba diving in Burma.
Sea Fan Forest is submerged, but only by 5 m at low tide. A fairly large area on the top is suitable for safety stops looking at the marine life in the surge. From there the dive site slopes down to 18 – 25m before you reach the sloping sandy bottom.
In places we find vertical walls and in other places, slopes and ledges cover the sides of Sea Fan Forest. In the sand around Sea Fan Forrest we find several rock formations creating smaller pinnacles ready for you to explore.
Western Rocky consists of several dive sites and we will show you the best of it on this safari. Western Rocky itself got a tunnel through the limestone rock from one side to the other. A huge tunnel with amazing views inside. So big you can swim several divers together and you can always see both ends when inside. Visibility is always clear and never any current inside the tunnel. An amazing experience to be inside in the dark, looking out at the bright blue exits that appear so amazingly clear and bright seen from the darkness inside. If you have not tried before this is the spot to do so.
We have as well Eagle Rock, The Islets and a Secret Pinnacle to dive around Western Rocky so we have lots to show you here and night dives here are an amazing explosion of colours and always a treat.
Depths between 5 and 40+m and usually around 15-45m visibility. Currents mild to strong.
Sea Fan Forest got its name from all the huge Gorgonian Sea Fans in pristine condition covering large areas of the dive site. In the northern part particularly you find Fan Forests and boulder formation from about 18m and down to 30+m. We find sandy patches and shelter for scuba divers in between the rock formations.
The south west corner is mainly vertical wall down to 25-30m. Further south at around 25m you find a nice swim through often completely covered in glass fish. Coming from down the swim through opens up into a nice sheltered slope going up to about 12m.
The south east corner have some outer rocks at 30-40m that can be worth a visit when conditions allow it. It is like small ecosystems of their own scattered in the sand just out of sight from the main rock.
Anemones and “green grass” is in abundance are in the shallow parts, and hard coral in healthy condition and great diversity are to be found at all depths. Not to much soft coral here but that will come later in the 3 dives at Western Rocky.
At Western Rocky we have the famous cave going through the Island at 15-18m. The whole tunnel is huge and have amazing formations inside. Turn your light up and some peaks in the ceiling will be 10+m above you.
You find The Arch as well at Western Rocky. A huge hole in the limestone that looks like an arch and covered in colorful soft coral. Another hole on the east side goes deep in but you have to come the same way out.
Sponge Coral cover areas of the inside in soft colors and night creatures like crabs and shrimps hide in the cracks inside during the day.
More cracks, cravecis and caves are around specially Western rocky but some nice smaller ones around Eagle Rock and Islets as well.
Some of the dive sites around Western Rocky can be combined in one dive but the main Island itself cannot be seen in only one dive so we will as always show you only the best on this safari.
Last chance for Giant Manta Rays and Whale Sharks is Sea Fan Forest and Western Rocky.
In season 2018/2019 Sea Fan Forrest was the most generous dive site when it came to the amazing Whale Sharks. Two groups of divers were lucky enough to see 2 Whale sharks at the same time on Sea Fan Forest. We have seen Whale shark around Western Rocky on occasion as well but more frequent sightings are at Sea Fan Forest.
Giant Manta Rays have been spotted around Sea Fan Forest as well but they seem to be just passing by and not sticking around like further north around North Twin, South Twin and especially around Black Rock. If the Gentle Giants are not around there is plenty more to look for in the blue around all dive sites on this day. Eagle Rays and Wahoo can be seen around in the blue amongst the schools of Barracuda, Jacks, Rainbow Runners and playful Batfishes.
When you hit the current in the right places walls of Fusiliers and Snappers pass by in an endless colorful banner of fishes on the hunt.
On Sea Fan Forest we mainly look in the blue or just enjoy the amazing scenery and have one eye in the sand. Deeper for Jenkins, Marbled and Kuhl’s Rays but in shallower ledges as well for Stone Fishes that we sometimes are lucky to spot here. Western Rocky is where we look for “The Little People”.
With all the cracks and hiding places limestone offer, Western Rocky dive sites are full of macro life. So many different species of Shrimps in all kinds of colors and shapes, Crabs in different sizes and creative outfits and Nudibranchs in amazing clear colors in abundance everywhere you look.
Frogfishes was before common in sudden places around Western Rocky but the season 2018/2019 was thin so we hope for a baby boom this coming season. Pipefishes and Seahorses are still frequent guests here and we have found the rare Harlequin Shrimps around Western Rocky as well.
Night dives are just amazing here. I still remember the first time I came down there on a night dive and was blown away by the colors alone. We all still love this night dive as one of our most colorful ones or take a sunset dive around Eagle Rock where we almost guarantee balls of Big Eye Jacks in the hundreds coming in from nowhere for an evening snack. Come and pick for yourself.
Only one dive on this last day but for sure this day will not be boring. We dive Volcano Island and do a bit more than scuba diving this morning.
Volcano Island (a.k.a. Cocks Comb Island or Emerald Heart Island and more) is one of the most famous Islands in The Mergui Archipelago. A big lagoon inside the Island is the source of the popularity and some of the namings. At the right angle from a drone it is a heart shaped lagoon and the deep center looks like an emerald colored blue hole. We start the dive be going in to have a look before the daily invasion of day trip visitors.
A little bit of life and diving is possible inside, but the dive site is a nice relaxing wall dive to finish our safari off with, on the outside of the island. The wall is limestone rock so full of smaller and larger cracks. Some large enough to swim in but they have fine muddy sand on the bottom so we stay and enjoy from the outside.
The wall continues quite far but after a while the marine life slowly disappears and it is time the last safety stop of this safari. 17 dives and 7 days are almost to an end but we still have a few places to show you.
Depths between 0 and 30+m and usually around 10-20m visibility. Currents non to mild.
Volcano Island is not a volcano. It is very beautiful and it could look in shape like a volcano but it is just the shape of this particular limestone island in The Mergui Archipelago and not the only volcano in the archipelago. Look at the edges of the creator above water and the rock look like a natural footage. The rock edges look razor sharp and not inviting to climb at all.
Luckily we swim through a beautiful passage below. At low tide we stay on the surface but at high tide we have to enter on scuba. A very nice passage that is equally beautiful from above as from below. Enjoy the view and just suck in the beauty and the silence inside the lagoon. Look down a bit as well there is marine life inside and mostly around the entrance so no reason to wander far inside.
Well on the outside the wall dive begins. Down there it is a hunt to see what we can find in the cracks and on the many bushy Sea Fans on the wall. Be careful not to go up and down too much in the hunt, when you keep seeing new interesting hiding places both above and below you. Go slow and give each other space and this dive site can be a very nice finish. There is so much room on this wall, and almost impossible to get lost on a wall dive, so enjoy your last submerged freedom to the fullest on this last dive on the trip.
Volcano is your last chance to see – everything. Last time in scuba gear and one last chance to enjoy the waters of Burma and The Mergui Archipelago.
From time to time we do see Juvenile Black Tip Reef Shark at Volcano. They are exact miniature copies of adult Black Tips and really cute, but equally shy so move as stealth as you can to get lucky. Razorfishes have been seen around the opening and while quietly watching them one might pass close by.
Near the passage on the way out we sometimes find Spearing Mantis Shrimp peaking out for food from their burrow in the sand, and a small school of Crocodile Needlefish usually hang out up to the right.
In the cracks look for Seahorses and Pipefishes but also look for them in the coral where they sometimes hang out as well. Both Ornate Ghost Pipefish and Jan’s Pipefishes favor this dive site with its many hiding places. Have an eye out for Turtle. Usually above you so if you do not look out, they might pass unnoticed right above your head. Look out as well for Banded Sea Krait swimming in and out looking for food or going up to the surface for air.
Nudibranchs, Shrimps and Crabs are in the cracks, hiding, so always a chance for a last goodbye to a personal favorite.
Not much new to offer at Volcano but this is one of the few places we have been lucky enough to see the Juvenile Shaded Batfish. A specially beautiful fish that is a real treat for scuba divers and photographers.
We see very often – and almost only here – the Longfin Comet Fish. A really shy fish that lives in the cracks around Volcano. The wall of Volcano is always a nice relaxing dive to finish of with and after a long time in the water and going in and out of the lagoon, breakfast is overdue.
Washing of personal dive equipment
As soon as you are out of the water from last dive you just leave you equipment as it is. Take electronics with you and the staff on MV Thai Sea will wash your equipment inside and outside and hang it up for dry. We almost always manage to dry everything on the way back but if the weather is against us we can struggle to get everything crisp dry.
Of course if you prefer to wash yourself, it is only to let your guide know and he will take care of your wishes.
Rental equipment of course you just leave for us to handle.
EXTRAS : Horse Shoe Bay stopover
Just after breakfast we arrive at Horse Shoe Island to visit Horse Shoe Bay (It is named by the Burmese in two words…)
A very scenic bay in a typical limestone Island with all the beauty that goes along. Palm trees, a white sandy beach some umbrellas and some nice hidden bungalows. Some new wooden construction looking like a “rock top terrace” was being nicely fitted in the bay but still not finished at the end of last season.
We still have a little time to take a last dip in the water or just take in the scenery of the last stop we offer on this safari in The Mergui Archipelago. Maybe a last selfie from the boat or a memorable photo with old or new friends meat on the boat before we cruise off to Kawthaung in Burma or Myanmar.
The 4 hours cruise from Horse Shoe Island to Kawthaung passes quickly with packing and last min exchanging email, photos and video from the trip. Well you do not need to sort it all in 4 hours. We still have a visit in Burma together and the short trip to Thailand as well.
While our passports are getting stamped out of Burma / Myanmar we offer you a beer in a local pub. A proper Myanmar bar and the best draft you can get: The free ones…
1 hour to get used to land again and join us for a cold drink or explore Kawthaung on your own. Not much time but not much town to see either but there is a chance to see a local market or shop a souvenir before we all met back at the boat after one hour of visit to mainland Burma.
If you like to do some shopping Thai Baht and US $ are accepted as well as the local Kyat. Easiest is to use foreign cash and the exchange rate in the shops are ok. Unless you are combining your cruise with a stay in Myanmar you do not need the local currency.
Arrival Ranong or Koh Phayam
On the way from Kawthaung in Burma to Ranong in Thailand one last check that all is packed. It is a short trip of only 30 min soo always hectic with lsat min arrangements. Maybe you want to meet up with some of the others later on land for dinner or drinks.
Anyways the services from the staff on MV Thai Sea is about to come to an end and we will wish you safe travels and hopefully thank you for a nice cruise and hope to see you back again before we take you to Thai immigration to check back into Thailand.
Expect to be cleared in Ranong for check in to your hotel or to continue further travels around 6 PM.