Diving Burma: Liveaboard off the beaten track
Why do we love Scuba Diving in Burma:
Check out our 4 Burma cruises and pick the one that fits you best: 4 itineraries to fit every budgets.
“Fantastic Boat warm friendly staff”
This is a stand out set up - the warmth & care that go into the arrangement is fantastic - great little boat amazing staff - I've been diving Burma for 20 years all over the world & I was really impressed - well done guys! The Manta on Xmas day were none to shabby either ;)
Nichola - UK - December
Diving around Burmese islands: a new dive destination
Burma’s Mergui Archipelago offers over 800 islands sprinkled throughout 12,000 square kilometres of crystalline waters just begging to be discovered. Since Burmese waters were opened, only a few boats have begun to appear, yet the islands remain almost entirely uninhabited save for the odd Burmese sea gypsys. Most divers who go to Burma seek the mysterious waters of the Mergui Archipelago. This off-the-beaten-path diving destination is made mostly from limestone (ensuring there are plenty of caves and tunnels) and a few granite pinnacles circled by a wide diversity of corals of beautiful color.
Diving Burma gives you the possibility to run into species like manta rays, barracudas, frogfish, crabs of all types (spider crabs, decorative crab, sponge crab...) seahorses, and all types of shrimps (harlequin being my favorite, I also love marble shrimp and . Different kinds of sharks also populate the area, and often swim along divers. The reefs in the area are also quite impressive, not only because of their sheer beauty, but also because of their size- some reefs can be as large as a small house!
The best time of the year to do some Myanmar(Burma) diving is between November and May, May till November is the rainy season and can present rough seas.
Find out more about Burma's best dive sites.
The best way to go diving Burma: Liveaboard Dive Safaris
Ranong itself is home to various natural attractions. It is blessed with hot springs and unspoiled mangrove forests and gorgeous little islands. It makes a great base for a few days of relaxing and exploring before joining your liveaboard to Burma.
The Smiling Seahorse is specialized about diving holidays in Burma. Because we dive in Burma all the time, our instructors are the most knowledgeable about the area and where the good spots are.
We offer very special cruises to go diving in Myanmar(Burma).
What can you see when diving in Burma?
Divers are spoilt for choice in Burma’s virgin waters.
Mantas, dolphins, blotched sting rays and Leopard sharks patrol the crystalline waters.
Little creatures enjoy equal billing with the big boys. Lobsters, crabs (spider/sponge/porcelain), and shrimps (squat/mantis/tapestry/durban...) scurry around the sea floor providing plenty of action
Keen underwater photographers are spoilt for choice, with pipefish (ghots/cleaner/spotted), frogfish, scorpionfish (stone/lions/leaf) nudibranch and seahorses all jostling for position against the coral heads and myriad colours of the untouched seabed.
Where to go diving in Burma?
The Mergui Archipelago: that's where we go
The Mergui Archipelago has become extremely popular over the last few years, attracting divers who wish to experience the diversity of its islands, and see a wide-array of marine life and corals. This Burma diving paradise definitely offers something for every kind of diver, and provides an opportunity to catch a glimpse of species that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.
If giant limestone rocks and barren landscapes are your thing, head over to points like Black Rock, a favorite diving spot that is surrounded by steep banks; High Rock, a small island surrounded by a rocky reef; and Tower Rock, made up of giant walls decorated with corals and crustaceans.
If color is what you’re looking for then spend some time exploring the soft corals and vibrant colors of Mc Leod Islands; or head to Seafan forest to witness the beautiful purple corals at the top and giant seafans at the bottom.
Marine life is present throughout the archipelago but the three islets that make up Shark Cave are swarming with colorful and exciting species, including several different kinds of shrimps the coolest, in my opinion being harlequin shrimps, Mantis shrimp and tapestry shrimps, but also seahorses and ghost pipe fish. North Twin Island’s incredibly clear water also makes largest wildlife sighting easier and more astonishing with regular sighting of eagle rays and mantas rays there next to big schools of barracudas.
On the opposite side, South Twin Island’s green grassy hills and large rock structures hide underneath long underwater passages that you can dive straight through. Western Rocky is not only the most southernmost dive site in the country but also one of its most unique. If you are a lover of heading deep within the mystery of underwater passages, then you will love the one that goes through the center of the island, letting you dive literally into its very heart.
The Burma banks are surprisingly famous compared to the Mergui Archipelago, this is due to the fact that diving boats from Thailand where allowed to visit the Burma banks (in international waters) far earlier than they have been allowed in the rest of Mergui Archipelago and some dive operators and magazines keep using this name in their communication (even today).
Burma banks were first visited between 1980's and 1990's and were famous at the time for shark sighting but as with most of the shark population in the world, sharks are not roaming in hundreds anymore and we feel like the long crossing to reach the Burma banks is not really worth it anymore which is why we prefer to concentrate on Mergui Archipelago which has been opened since 1997 and which offers a lot more diversity.
The Burma banks are a large underwater mountain about 180 kilometers North West of the Similan islands far from everything else and surrounded by deep deep water, it offers true open-ocean diving, which is not for everyone...
Whats' good about Burma Banks: 1.Those who venture into the Banks are rewarded with good visibility over giant underwater seamounts that can rise up to 15 meters below the water, all the way down to 300, if you are lucky to see a big shark passing by, you will love it, of course (don't we all). 2. It is different from the diving you will find in Thailand and Mergui Archipelago because the water around is so deep 3. giving you a chance to see deep-sea species...
Why we don't like going to the Burma Banks 1.The sea is often bad so far offshore and there is nothing to shelter from the weather making the boat rocky and the surface interval uncomfortable. 2. It takes a night crossing to reach the Burma banks and there is no dive sites nearby so you need to spend the whole day there 3. if you are not lucky enough (most of the time) to see the big stuff passing by, there is not much coral life going on, the landscape is quite uninteresting and the depth of the sites make bottom time quite short... 4. the current can be pretty crazy making the dives more hazardous.
In conclusion: We can go there upon request for chartered boat but avoid them on our usual itineraries...
When to go for a Liveaboard in Myanmar?
We always find it hard to answer the question: when is the best time to visit, every one of the six month season has a particularity, at the beginning of the season, you can see more cuttlefish mating for example and at the end a blossom of ghost pipe fish. Whale Sharks and Mantas can be seen all season long with a bit more toward the end of the season.
The rainy season is from May till October at which time the sea can be dangerous and we are closed.
Another video done by one of our customers while diving in Myanmar
Amazing diving and good service
""I am not in the habit of writing reviews online but this trip was a blast and I feel The Smiling Seahorse deserves a good one, so here it is. I went with them on a 4 days Thailand trip from 25th of November and on 8 days Mergui Archipelago trip from 30th of November 2014. The dive sites are exceptionally beautiful. The dives were well organised and led. There were people with different levels of experience on board and groups were formed accordingly. The organisation was very good and efficient. Diving Mergui Archipelago is still not a mainstream and I felt privileged to be there. We saw Harlequin shrimps, Ghost pipe fish, frog fish, 3 spieces of sharks and many, many more- no dive was disappointing. The swim- throughs were fun and we saw a big Nurse shark in one of them. In Thailand we were lucky enough to have a manta hanging with us. Richelieu Rock was amazing and we had above water entertainment- whales swimming close to the boat. The food was excellent (yes, even after 12 days). Atmosphere on board was friendly and relaxed. The boat is basic but has everything you need on a dive trip. It’s a budget liveaboard that exceeded my expectations. Thumbs up for The Smiling Seahorse from me. As a diver with 600+ dives I highly recommend them.""