Our Sailing Area, the Mergui Archipelago


Virtually unknown to the outside world, the Mergui Archipelago is located in Myanmar's (Burma's) remote south: a group of 800 deserted islands that lie at the heart of our sailing area.

Think white beaches lined with palm trees and dense jungle. Think swimming in azure water amongst colourful reef fish, spotting corals, and collecting seashells. Now, picture eagles circling above, gibbons and monitor lizards eyeing you from the thickets, while a sundowner is being mixed for you on board the yacht. 

And best of all: you have this entire experience to yourself. You can sail for days on end and meet not a soul but the odd fisherman in a dugout canoe.

Just across from the Thai border, the archipelago opened to foreigners as recently as the late 1990s. With only a few of the 800 islands sparsely populated and a couple dozen visitors to the entire area each month, the Mergui Archipelago remains one of the planet’s most unspoilt destinations.

 

Meet the Sea Gypsies

The traditional inhabitants of the Mergui Archipelago are the Moken, a people who live off, and on, the sea. Sometimes called "sea-gypsies", this ethnic minority group leads a traditional, semi-nomadic lifestyle, dominated by diving for sea cucumbers, fishing and bartering.

Until the recent changes in Myanmar’s government, the relationship between the Moken and the central authorities was marked by tensions. Recently, however, things have started to improve and the Moken are somewhat less elusive. If you are interested, we can take you to Moken villages where you will be able to enjoy Moken food, buy fresh cuttlefish, and watch men building dugout canoes the way they have been made for tens of thousands of years.

Myanmar is home to more than 100 ethnicities from the Sino-Tibetan, Tai, and Austroasiatic ethnolinguistic groups and you will see an array of starkly differing features amongst the people you’ll meet.

 

Sailing Conditions


Under full sails, keeling over, the wind and sun in your face, salt on your lips, and no land in sight.

Or, a leisurely cruise to the next beach, feet up on the helm, drink to hand, and watching the dolphins jump.

Whether you’re an experienced sailor or on board a ship for the first time, you will love Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago, an area so versatile and large that you can beach hop for weeks on end or go on multi-day blue-water passages. Or both, of course.

The Mergui Archipelago lies in tropical waters and temperatures are constantly warm and pleasant, with average highs ranging between 28-33°C (84-92°F) and average lows between 20-24°C (69-76°F).

Sailing is possible throughout the year but there are major differences between the seasons.

The best time for sailing in the Mergui is between November and April. Conditions during December to February are perfect, with warm, sunny weather, a steady 20 knots of wind, and calm seas. March and April have less wind, which is why they are the best time for diving and snorkelling with clear water.

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.

Even when winds are strong and swells are sizeable, the numerous large islands provide hundreds of protected anchorages for any season, as well as “hurricane holes” for stormy days.

While some areas of the archipelago have not been entirely charted and explored, the region provides safe sailing, with few under-water obstacles or dangerous reefs.

The entire island group is replete with good and safe anchorages in sandy or muddy grounds.

And in case we encounter days without wind, there is enough to explore in the water and on land to keep us busy. Plus, the yacht’s engine runs up to 8 knots… 

 

Beyond Mergui


Of course, there is more to explore in the area than the Mergui Archipelago alone.

The island group belongs to Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region, the country’s southernmost province. Its coastline provides endless vistas and sites for you to discover, whether for an afternoon or for several days.

The towns of Kawthaung and Myeik are the southern and northern gateways to the island group, respectively. If you enter Myanmar from Thailand, you will have time to walk around sleepy Kawthaung with its Buddhist temples, colonial-era back streets and bustling market, while we handle Myanmar immigration procedures for you.

The Mergui Archipelago is located along the northern end of the Malay Peninsula and in the part of the Indian Ocean that is known as the Andaman Sea – in itself an immensely diverse region ranging from India to Myanmar, and from Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore and Indonesia.

Further south along the peninsula, we can sail with you into Thailand, to its world famous islands, dive sites and its crystal-clear waters – or even further into Malaysia. To the west, the Indian Ocean beckons and India’s incredible Andaman Islands are only a 2-3 day sail away.

The opportunities are endless and we are happy to take you as far as you want to go.