Myeik Archipelago – The Untouched Islands
Not only does Mother Nature endow Myanmar with a generous wealth of precious metals and gems but also gifts this land with much natural decadence that its neighbors can’t help envying. In her act of spontaneity, Nature sprinkles the otherwise nothingness of the long coast of Myanmar with 800 islands and islets. These islands are known to mortals as Myeik Archipelago – the untouched islands of southernmost part, a perfect retreat from the modern world. Here, the flow of time is frozen. Here, the locals maintain a lifestyle that detaches from the toxic of modernity and synchronizes with gentle rhythm of the environment.
Myeik Archipelago is devoid of the influence from the country’s drastic changes. In 2014, a visitor daring to Myeik couldn’t stop himself from exclaiming joyfully over the absence of mechanized life – such a delight worthy of the extended trip to come here.
Eight hundred islands are enough to make one’s exploration dream come true. Out of them, intrepid travelers have named some landmarks that deserve attention.
The island, which hosts a National Natural Reserve, is one of the most recognized name among its numerous siblings. The island is the house of many endemic species, among them small mammals, monkeys, barking dears and bird species swarming the island light-mindedly. The mangroves are a spectacular view reserved only to this type of typology, promising just as much sought-after adventure and excitement as their pristine sand.
Take it to the deeper level to discover Lampi’s undersea world which is glorified by the awe-inspiring corals and amusing sea-borne creatures. Snorkeling is a highly preferred activity: the translucent water allows fish-loving tourists a vantage view of the busy community of amusing fishes and their contemporary.
This island can be reached from the southernmost town of Kawthaung and provides a good spot for diving. A rocky and infertile island with only one tree managing to survive, the island earns a name that it lives true to. This is the place for some ecstasy as curious adventure-seekers may shriek at the presence of nurse sharks in the crevasses. Schools of seahorses can be seen obliviously wandering around. The visibility range in good weather condition can extend to fifteen meters, giving this island a spot on divers’ favorite checklist.
A huge island in the northern part of the archipelago, Dome Island can be reached from Myeik within a day’s time by speed boat. This island becomes famous for tourists can catch sights of Mokens – an ethnic minority who goes by the more metaphoric name “sea gypsies”. The Mokens lead a rudimentary life, doing their tasks and earning their livelihood the same way for thousand years. Their fishing posture – with a spear and energetic jump – represents the island’s liveliness much as the way the Inthas rowing posture does to the Inle Lake. In dry season, the Mokens take to the island to live, while around the year their lives remain water-borne.
Myeik Archipelago can be reached through Myeik or Kawthaung, both of which have aviation connection with Yangon. The flights connecting Yangon to these northbound towns operate twice a week and may involve several stop along the way. As a result, tourists should plan at least a week for a visit to Myeik to compensate for the lengthy travel and to enjoy the natural delights which are beautifully presented.
The service infrastructure of Myeik is far from sufficient with tourists often having to negotiation with local boat owners. If you travel in a group, you are encouraged to consult a travel agency who will do all the paperwork (like taxes and entry fees) and arrange services beforehand.