Mergui Archipelago Diving Liveaboard (The Best Burma Dives)

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Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboard in Myanmar (formerly Burma)

If you’re into diving the less explored dive sites of the world, which are off-the-beaten-track, you’ll definitely want to jump aboard a Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboard.

A Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboard is the only way to dive the Mergui Archipelago which remains one of the planet’s most unspoiled dive destinations. The islands are still largely undiscovered by tourists and are inhabited by Moken people. Dive from February to May to see mantas and whale sharks.

These islands are still largely undiscovered by tourists, so if you want to scuba dive in a remove and still largely uncharted waters, Myeik (or Mergui) Archipelago is the place to go.

Where is the Mergui Archipelago: Known as Myeik Archipelago or Myeik Kyunzu?

The Mergui Archipelago is off the southern west coast of Myanmar. Where Myanmar is also known as Burma.

The official name of the country was changed to Myanmar in 1989 by the military government. It’s full name is the ‘Republic of the Union of Myanma.’ But certain countries like the UK, Canada and the United States often still refer to it as Burma.

But for the rest of this article, I will refer to it as Myanmar, as this is the correct name as far as the country itself is concerned. In terms of geography Myanmar is bordered by:

  • Thailand to the south.
  • India to the north.
  • China is along its eastern border.
  • The Mergui Archipelago lies off the west coast of the Malay peninsular towards the northern end nearest to where the peninsular meets the rest of Indochina.
  • These islands are in the Andaman sea, which is east of the Bay of Bengal.

The Mergui Archipelago Islands are referred to as the Pashu Islands by the Malay inhabitants, which are referred locally as Pashu.

There are over 800 islands in total in the Mergui Archipelago, which was only opened up to tourism in 1997.

Mergui Archipelago how to get there

The best way to get to Mergui Archipelago is via Thailand. First fly to Phuket which is lies south of Mergui and then transfer by flight to Ranong. Which is the best starting point for scuba diving Mergui Archipelago. Mergui Archipelago dive liveaboards depart from Ranong or Kawthaung ports.

Best weather to visit the Mergui Archipelago for scuba diving liveaboard trip

The Mergui Archipelago lies in tropical waters, where the temperatures are consistently warm. The average temperature is 30°C (86 °F)

From May to July there are strong onshore winds and a larger swell. There are occasional hurricanes in the Mergui from May to June. The rainy season is from July to October.

What to see in the Mergui Archipelago when scuba diving from a liveaboard dive boat

Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboard map
Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboard map – image courtesy of Liveaboard.com

Scuba diving Burma Banks and the Mergui Archipelago is a great spot if you like the big stuff. When I say the big stuff, I mean the large pelagics. You are more or less guaranteed sharks, rays (including manta rays) and the occasional whale sharks.

If you scuba dive Burma Banks and Mergui Archipelago, you will be one of a few lucky scuba divers that have.

The Burma Banks scuba diving

The Burma Banks is one of the most renowned dive sites in Southeast Asia. The huge Burma Banks are located on the west side of the Mergui Archipelago around 125 miles (200km) off the coast of Myanmar.

These banks are huge flat-topped sea mounts which are at a depth of 15 metres (50 feet). At the edges of the Burma Banks the sea plunges to a depth of around 300 metres (984 feet).

There are six of these large submerged mountains, which are named:

  1. Heckford Bank.
  2. Coral Bank.
  3. Big Bank.
  4. Silvertip Bank.
  5. Rainbow Bank.
  6. Roe Bank.

Currents on the Burma Banks tend to be strong. This means Burma Banks diving is for intermediate to experienced scuba divers only, as drift dives tend to be the norm.

Heckford Bank and Silvertip Bank dive sites

Heckford Bank is the western most bank of all. It’s also the deepest. Heckford Bank begins at about 20 metres (66 feet) of water and is one of the best places to spot sharks.

The other bank that offers the best shark spotting opportunity is Silvertip Bank. Here you’ll likely see the silvertip sharks, as well as the tawny sharks.

Other sharks that are also seen in this area of the Burma Banks include:

  • Hammerheads.
  • Tiger sharks.
  • Blacktip reef sharks.
  • Whitetip reef sharks.
  • Grey reef sharks.

Shark sightings on the Burma Banks is almost guaranteed.

The other impressive visitor to the region includes manta rays. Plus one of my favourites, eagle rays.

In addition to cartilaginous fish of the shark family, you may also see potato cod, grouper, red snapper and surgeon fish.

The depth of Silvertip Bank ranges from 15 metres (50 feet) to 40 metres (131 feet) towards the southern tip. The profile of this bank is more diverse than the other banks.

This means the sea life there is much greater. You’ll not only get to scuba dive with sharks, but there are also octopus, great barracuda, potato cod, red snapper and moral eels.

The Burma Banks are still relative virgin dive territory, as only a small number of liveaboard dive boats visit the area.

Black Rock and Shark Cave dive sites

Another great dive sites for seeing sharks on the Mergui Archipelago is Black Rock. Here you are likely encounter whitetip reef sharks, grey reef sharks and black tip reef sharks.

But if you like shark encounters, Shark Cave is a great spot to see nurse sharks too.

Level of scuba diver experience required for Mergui Archipelago scuba diving

Due the remoteness of Mergui Archipelago the diving is better suited for experienced divers. Some of the dives are deep too and many involve diving in currents too. Diving in currents requires prior drift diving training and experience.

Mergui Archipelago dive liveaboard boats review

There are four Mergui Archipelago dive liveaboards to choose from.

Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboard comparison chart - Table of the best Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboards (Scroll table right for more info.)

Mergui Archipelago Diving LiveaboardReview Rating
Out of 10
Cost Per Day
(From price)
EnquireNitroxLogged Dives/Min dive certificationInternet
Cost
(From price)
Available for CharterSidemount/Rebreather
Diving support
LengthMax Guests/
Cabins/Bathrooms
Family cabins
Bavaria Liveaboard8.7£111/$151/€125EnquirePaid004-030 - OWFreeYesSidemount28m/92f24/12/12No
Smiling Seahorse, Myanmar9.1£107/$146/€120EnquirePaid010-AOWNoYesSidemount.
Rebreather Support.
25m/82f16/8/8Yes
Dallinghoo Liveaboard, Myanmar0.0£286/$390/€321EnquirePaid010-OWNoYesNone30m/98f08/4/4No
Deep Andaman Queen8.6£142/$193/€160EnquirePaid000-OWFreeYesNone31m/102f25/11/12No
The best Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboard comparison chart notes:
1. The exchange rate used for GBP to USD 1.36 and GBP to Euro 1.12.
2. The 'Cost per day' column will make it easy to sort these Mergui Archipelago liveaboards by cost, but these prices may vary when you visit to book. The prices listed are a cost guide and were correct at the time of compiling this table.
3. Under review rating '0.0' means no rating received at the time of compiling the table.
4. To scroll on desktop select table and use arrow keys. On touch screen including mobile devices scroll the table using the screen.
5. Min dive certification: OW = Open Water Diver. AOW = Advanced Open Water Diver.
MV Deep Andaman Queen liveaboard dive boat
MV Deep Andaman Queen liveaboard dive boat – image courtesy of Liveaboard.com

At a glance the MV Deep Andaman Queen liveaboard dive boat offers the following features:

MV Deep Andaman Queen is a 31m (102 foot) mono-hulled liveaboard dive boat. This boat is a custom-built liveaboard dive boat for scuba diving in the Andaman Sea. Cruises depart from Khao Lak in Thailand.

  • The MV Deep Andaman Queen is an 31 metre (102 feet) mono-hulled motor yacht.
  • The MV Deep Andaman Queen cruises to Burma South, Similan Islands, Surin Islands Khao Lak, Richelieu Rock and the Mergui Archipelago.
  • Maximum number of guests is 25.
  • The maximum dives for a 4 night trip are 14, 5 night is 18 dives and for a 7 night trip is 22 dives.
  • Nitrox on board at an extra charge.
  • Recommended to wear basic skin protection or a 3mm wetsuit.
  • There are hot water showers for rinsing off after each dive.
  • All cabins have an en-suite bathroom , air conditioning, TV and DVD plus a free minibar in the master cabin.
  • There’s always plenty of tasty food on board, which features a variety of Thai Burmese and international/European cuisine served buffet style. There’s a pre-breakfast before each morning dive. Then main breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner.
  • Price includes fruit, soft drinks, drinking water, tea and coffee with biscuits.
  • Alcoholic drinks such as beer, spirits and cocktails are an extra charge.
  • Best to fly internationally to Phuket airport and the boat departs from Khao Lak.

There are a few other options of liveaboard dive boats. Click this link for more details about these.

Booking your Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboard trip

As already reviewed above, there are a few liveaboard dive boats in the area. The top liveaboard diving specialist is Dive The World.

With them you can get some great deals and discounts for an amazing liveaboard diving holiday. Click this link to find out for about booking a livaboard trip to Mergui Archipelago.

I hope you enjoyed this article about Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboard

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about Mergui Archipelago diving liveaboard), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.

Have fun and be safe!

Mergui Archipelago Diving Liveaboard (The Best Burma Dives)

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