Mergui archipelago in Burma
Burma - Tour 4 description

Our best trip toward the north of the Mergui archipelago with the famous Black Rock site. It also offers the flexibility to discover and explore new dive sites all along our itinerary. An unforgettable trip accross the Andaman Sea.

Looking at big stuff like Mantas, sharks, schools of barracudas and trevallies as well as Harlequin shrimps, frogfishes, ghost pipefishes, nudies … The gem of the Mergui Archipelago.

Our very best of Burma

Burma Tour 4 (MYA-4)
Explore Burma

8 days / 7 nights – 25 dives

Standard cabin (shared cabin) : 55.000 THB / diver

Approx. currency conversion (additional exchange and transfer fees depends on your bank or operator) : starts at 1.635 EUR*

Master cabin (shared cabin) : 56.000 THB / diver

Non divers 20 % off the trip price (starts at 44.000 THB)

Enriched air Nitrox FREE for certified scuba divers (certification on cruise available)

Entry and visa fees for Burma / Myanmar : 270 USD per passenger to pay onboard

* For currency convertion, please note : For information purposes only, exchanges rates may vary. Based on ECB reference rates

Myanmar - Tour 4

Itinerary in brief

  • Day 1 : Meeting at the shop between 10:00 and 12:00 for administratives tasks and diving equipment fitting. Leaving Ranong onboard the MV Thai Sea around 15:00 and a step at Kawthaung for the immigration process
  • Day 2: Let’s start with 4 dives around South Twin
  • Day 3 : 4 dives around North Twin
  • Day 4 : Let’s go for a ride by night for 4 amazing dives at Black Rock
  • Day 5 : 4 dives around Shark Cave
  • Day 6 : 4 dives around Ba Wei and Pink Canyon
  • Day 7 : 4 dives at Seafan Forest and Western Rocky
  • Day 8 : Last dive at Volcano Island, the ‘Love Island’ to meet Seahorses, juvenile platax, black tips, turtles, ghost pipefishes and nudies. Immigration step at Kawthaung and back to Ranong in the end of the afternoon
*Dive sites are subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen conditions. But remember we are divers and on the boat ourselves – we will for sure give you the best options of the day in any condition. We are divers working for divers and love diving – for sure we pick only the best.

What's included

  • Full accommodation onboard (Breakfast, Lunch, afternoon snacks, Dinner)
  • All soft drinks, drinking water, electrolyte, coffee & tea
  • Fresh fruits, yoghurt & snacks
  • 12 Liter Alu Cylinders, Weights & Weight Belt
  • PADI Professional Dive Guide per 4 divers
  • All the dives according to choosen cruise
  • Free Nitrox for certified divers (course available on board)
  • Dive torch & SMB
  • Towel, shower gel

Supplements

  • Burmese entry and diving Fees in USD (subject to change by authorities)
  • DIVING INSURANCE (Mandatory)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Equipment rental (500THB/day)
  • Dive Computer (300THB/day)
  • PADI Continuing Education Courses (see Education)
  • Divers who do not hold a 30m deep and night dive certification MUST take the Deep and Night Adventure Dive training on boat to be able to do all the dives
  • Transfers to and from Ranong (on Demand)
  • Tips for the crew

What to bring for the cruise

  • Sun protection : sunglasses, hat, clothes to protect skin from the sun, sunscreen (reef friendly sunscreen recommended)
  • One small windbreaker or warm sweater in case you should feel chilly
  • Batteries and chargers as needed
  • Camera as it is picture perfect above and below
  • Cigarettes if needed. You tend to smoke more on the boat no matter your plan (dedicated smokers place)
  • Music but think about the rest of us. Our soundsystem cover bluetooth, jack stick and USB

What not to bring for the cruise

  • Do not bring too much clothes. It is a tropical climate, you wear swimwear most of the day if not all, you do not really get dirty on a boat so bring a minimum of clothes
  • Towel and shower soap unless special requirements
  • Food, fruits and snacks – we have plenty
  • Shoes – we go barefoot on the boat

Example of a normal 4 dives day

  • 6:30 AM gentler wake up call, fresh coffee and a morning snack before dive site briefing and first group in scuba on the platform at 7 AM for dive 1.
  • 8:30 AM buffet style breakfast with fresh made filter coffee or hot tea, eggs, bacon, toast, cereals, orange juice, yogurt fresh fruit and more.
  • SIESTA
  • 10:30 AM dive briefing for the dive site and first group in scuba on the platform at 11 AM.
  • 12:30 PM lunch buffet style with international and local cuisine. 2 or 3 freshmade plentiful warm dishes and sides.
  • SIESTA
  • 2:30 PM dive briefing for the dive site and first group in scuba on the platform at 3 PM
  • 4:30 PM afternoon snack
  • SIESTA or watch the stunning sunsets the Mergui Archipelago has to offer. Some days we visit land around this time. Mokan Village or Long Beach on Khyn Pila Island when possible.
  • 6:30 PM dive briefing for the dive and first group in scuba on the platform at 7 PM
  • 8:00 PM dinner buffet style with international and local cuisine. 2 or 3 hot dishes and sides
Sleep – Repeat

The days on the boat

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 ?

Dive sites

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.

 

Topography

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.

 

Marine Life

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.

Dive sites

4 dives around 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.

Depths between 5 and 40+m and usually stunningly 20-40m visibility. Currents mild to strong.

 

Topography

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.

 

Marine Life

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.

Dive Sites

Well arrived at Black Rock, the only land you see is the rock itself. Now we are really remote in Mergui Archipelago, far north and far to the west. So far only scuba divers and the passing fishing boats go here.

Black Rock is worth all 4 dive of the day. When Giant Mantas Rays are visiting you hang out in the blue and enjoy the show.

The rock from the surface looks like some melted lava formation with smooth flat surfaces and sharp edges. Not a rock that looks inviting but when you go scuba diving it is a whole different and inviting world that meets you.

The night dive is done on the sloping north side or we have been known to sneak a sunset dive in here instead if so desired. Sunset feeding frenzy can be quite spectacular at Black Rock.

Depths between 5 and 40+m and usually stunningly 25-40m visibility. Currents mild to strong.

 

Topography

Black Rock must be some kind of granite or other hard.

Some parts under water resembles what you see above the surface with impressive almost vertical areas of flat rock with longer or shorter cracks between meters of massive walls .In other areas huge boulder rocks piles up from the bottom along the main base of Black Rock creating sloping reefs, overhangs and swim through.

The sandy bottom starts at between 18 and 30+ meters still sloping down to even greater depths up to 70-80m not far from Black Rock.

Both corners are flanked by larger and smaller boulder rocks and are when navigated the right way 2 different worlds of beauty.

 

Marine Life

Black Rock got marine life from the surface and beyond our 40m dive limit.

The dive site is so diverse and got so many smaller ecosystems all at the comfort of the different species of marine life at Black Rock.

Both lots of life on the reef in this remote oasis for scuba divers, with deep waters up to almost 100m around Black Rock, it has a lot of patrolling fish and even Giant Mantas in the blue as well.

Giant Manta Ray is one of the reasons we travel this far. When you are lucky they come really close. Just follow our staff instructions. We are very experienced in diving with these majestic gentle giants. I was one time so close I was lucky enough to free a Giant Manta from a fishing net – the only time I have ever shed a tear under water…

Remember to look out in the blue. Not only Manta Rays but also the wonderful Whale Sharks pass by on rare occasions. Eagle Rays have been spotted especially around the corners as well. Marbled rays and Jenkin’s rays rarely come in close at Black Rock but we have seen them around so watch out in the sand as well.

Sharks rarely but sometimes cruise by near the bottom of Black Rock our around the base of the outer boulders.

At least 7 different types of Jacks (or Trevallies) are to be spotted in the blue. Joined by different kinds of Tunas, Rainbow Runners, Batfishes and different kinds of Barracudas patrol the outer reef. Flanked on the half distance by Lunar, Yellowback and other Fusiliers mixed with schools of different Snappers they all help to keep the smaller reef fish on watch out.

Amongst the reef fishes both Reef Octopus and different species of Cuttlefishes hang out or even mate and nest on the reef. Mating cephalopods is one of the most amazing shows you can encounter as a scuba diver. You can go really close without disturbing them. They are not shy like normal when mating but out in an amazing full display right in front of you. Spectacular sight the most scuba divers will never tired off.

In this dive site alone we have spotted more than 10 different species of Moray Eels. Most common is Giant Moray, White Eyed, Fimbriated, Zebra but more spices hide in the reef.

In the cracks, on and between the coral hiding in all imaginable places you find a wide range of crabs and shrimp. Some so small you cannot see them with the naked eye but also Sponge Crabs, Elbow Crabs, Hermit Crabs and other “critters” reaching the size of up to a dinner plate live on Black Rock. Harlequin Shrimps, Frogfishes, Seahorses, Ghost Pipefishes, Bent Stick Pipefishes and lots more fascinating critters are amongst the catches you can get deep in the reef. And is your passion Nudibranchs they are in numerous different species in the diverse sections on Black Rock.

If you think it sounds like Black Rock got it all it is only sad we only have 4 dives to see it.

Dive Sites

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.

 

Topography

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.

 

Marine Life

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

 

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.

 

Topography

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.

 

Marine Life

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.

Dive Sites

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.

 

Topography

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.

 

Marine Life

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.

Dive Sites

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.

 

Topography

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.

 

Marine Life

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.

 

Visit Burma

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.