Diving in Burma: Liveaboard off the beaten track
The best scuba diving in Burma
Pick the one that fits you best: our Burma diving cruises itineraries fit every budgets.
Diving around Burmese islands: a new dive destination in Myanmar.
If you want the most unique Burma diving experience in the planet, then Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is the place for you. Its waters were closed off until 1997, which means that they are relatively unexplored and undiscovered by even some of the most seasoned divers. With gorgeous landscapes made of caves, soft and hard coral, incredibly rich wildlife and exclusive dive sites, it is diving like you’ve never done it before.
Diving Burma gives you the possibility to run into species like manta rays, barracudas, frog fish, 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 diving (Burma) is between November and May, May till November is the rainy season and can present rough seas.
Find out more about best diving sites in Burma
The best way to go diving in Burma: liveaboard Diving trips
In Myanmar (Burma), diving is almost entirely accessed by live-aboard boats, which offer the most effective means of exploring the outer reaches of the Mergui Archipelago.Myanmar cruise boats depart from Ranong in Thailand and Kawthoung in Myanmar, being at the border is the only departure point allowing cruises exclusively in Burma.
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 dive in Burma.
What can you see when diving in Burma?
Divers are spoiled 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 spoiled for choice, with pipe fish (ghots/cleaner/spotted), frog fish, scorpion fish (stone/lions/leaf) nudibranch and seahorses all jostling for position against the coral heads and myriad colors 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 Sea fan Forest to witness the beautiful purple corals at the top and giant sea fans 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...
What's 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 often go to the Burma Banks
1.The sea can be 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 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 only go there once in a while mid season when the weather is flat and predictable.
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.
The smiling Seahorse video on liveaboard in Myanmar
Customer's feedback about our liveabords
“Fantastic Boat warm friendly staff”
This is a stand out set up - the warmth & care that go into the arrangement is fantastic - great boat amazing staff - I've been diving 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
“Great food Great diving Great cruise!“
"We had an awesome time on this boat. The crew was funny and helpful with setting up and cleaning gear. The food was amazing. The views were nice. Frank is funny and knowledgeable and also a great photographer and does not charge customers for his excellent photos"★★★★★ by Martin January 13, 2020 0.3
"We had a fantastic week on the Smiling seahorse. I have been on many liveaboards and this certainly is one of the best I have been on. Everything and I mean everything was totally organised well. A guide for 4 divers and the dive deck was organised for the groups so it was easy to get ready. I liked the rotation for diving. Julian was brilliant and even though he was only maybe 5 years old and needed a haircut his dive guiding was faultless. He taught me a lot but not in an annoying way. The boat was spotless and the food endless and very nice indeed. New Years Eve was celebrated and everyone joined in. The boat boys worked so hard and knew how to. help. Simply having enough coat hangers and pegs for wet suits and wet gear makes life onboard so easy. The crew worked hard to get us the best diving for the season. I loved it. We hope to be back if you will have us. Gill and Nick"★★★★★ by Gill and Nick January 04, 2020 0.3
Dive cruise with The smiling SeahorseReviewer: Tanja Kober - December 21, 2019 "Amazing diving and good service" Tanja Kober
"We were 1 week on the liveaboard in Myanmar: super nice boat crew, great diving guides, nice, cozy and clean boat / room, great food!""