In March I was asked to join the Dunia Baru as a private guide for water sports, land excursions and diving in the Mergui. This was to be this beautiful sailing boat’s first venture into the Mergui Archipelago. The boat was to be joined by some VIP guests and so the cruise director wanted a guide with excellent knowledge of the area on board so that everything ran smoothly. Luckily for me my friend Steve, Tour Leader on the Deep Andaman Queen, put my name forward and they got in contact. Of course I jumped at the chance to work on the famed Indonesian superyacht and visit my second home with style and a smile 😉
Day 1: Kawthaung to Nyang Wee 10.34.3783N / 098.05.3165E
After getting cleared by customs and the port authorities we set sail for a very nice bay located 7 nautical miles east from Rocky 1 Mergui dive site.
Day 2: North Rock, Nyang Wee and Lampi Island
This Island has very nice dive site, North Rock, with very healthy coral growth including many hard and soft corals which are in abundance. There is a good chance to see Spotfin frogfish here, and it’s also a place where we see schooling Shrimpfish. There can be some strong currents on this dive site, but shelter can always be found on one side of the small rock outcrop. This is a site that is ok for snorkelling at.
We spent the day at Nyang Wee and the guests enjoyed some beach time, paddle boarding and also some snorkelling. After a fantastic day we upped anchor and headed for Lampi Island whilst enjoying a very nice sunset with cocktails on the sun deck.
Day 3: Bo Cho Island with the Moken and Lampi
We awoke to a beatiful sunrise at the estuary between Bo Cho Island and Lampi Island. We planned the day to include a visit to the village at Bo Cho, this proved a great opportunity to see the progress that had been made here, stemming from Thailand Dive and Sail’s See and Sea project.
It was truly amazing to see how the project has moved on.
The area around Lampi Island is the first marine protected area in the region. There are so many improvements that have been made including a weekly rubbish collection and the separation of plastics and glass and plastic. This will be shipped to the mainland and sold with the proceeds being returned to the community. There is a much more positive feeling here now, with the very first steps of a growing community being felt throughout.
For our afternoon activities we visited the wonderful mangrove on the western side, this is thought to be the healthiest mangrove in the Mergui archipelago. We then decided to relocate to the north of Lampi to view the population of Hornbills, where we were treated to the flyby of 3 of these awesome birds. What a great day was had by all. It was a true pleasure to see that the efforts many of our customers had made, through donated items and funds, are now paying off for the people of this region.
Day 4: West Lampi and a Mergui Beach Clean Up
Our day begun early with a beautiful sunrise over east Lampi Island, we decided to start our days adventures with a ride thorough Crocodile River. Apparently up till a few years ago there were still saltwater Crocodiles here. We stopped at the island in the middle of the river that is home to a fishing community. Sadly it was evident that the clean up efforts seen on Bo Cho Island hadn’t yet reached this village as we saw the beaches strewn with broken glass. However, with a bit of encouragement from one of our guests it wasn’t long before a beach clean up took place and we collected 2 large sacks of broken glass from the beach.
Our drone pilot captured some stunning images of this awesome place with some great flyover shots with children chasing the drone down the beach.
After lunch we upped anchor and headed to the 3 Islets. It wasn’t possible to dive due to time constraints, but we all had some great times snorkelling at this famous Mergui dive site. We chose to anchor for the night at Great Swinton Island and enjoyed a great sunset dinner and then went off to bed.
Day 5: Great Swinton Island
We dropped anchor for the night and planned to spend the day around Great Swinton Island. This has to have one of the most idylic beaches in the world with a small adjoining island connected by a sand bar. Our guests were amazed at the long sandy beach and also the fineness of the sand – it’s like powder here!
After lunch we headed to 3 Islets for some more snorkelling. There were fish in abundance this time and the current was keeping them very close to the reef; we saw many schooling Fusileers and one of our guests even spotted a beautiful cowerie shell clinging to the wall. For the late afternoon we headed back to Great Swinton Island for some late beach time and an stunning sunset.
We departed at around 10 o’clock and the wind was blowing in the right direction so we decided to put the sails up. The Dunia Baru looks awesome with her 6 sails fully catching the breeze.
Mcloed island is the only island in the region with a small resort on it, so our guests decided to opt for a spa visit and spent the morning being pampered by the local Burmese staff.
Our afternoon consisted of Discover Scuba Diving courses for some of our guests, who all did very well. We soon had them scanning the reef for some of the many species of fish found in the region. For our late afternoon activity we dropped the jetski down and got out the water skis so our guest had plenty to keep them occupied.
Our guest were exhausted after todays fun and we had early dinner and reflected on the days activities. Then it was off to bed ready for tomorrow’s fun.
Day 7: Cockcoombe island and Home
We traveled overnight to a safe anchorage and decided on Horse Shoe Island. We had some great snorkelling and our drone pilot took some incredible footage from 120m high. We visited the local birds nest collectors and admired their temporary huts that they construct for the season. As we understood it, the birds nests are valued at $10US per gram, but could equal five times that in the markets of the world.
We upped anchor early morning and headed back to Kawthaung for our farewells and goodbyes to what was a fantastic trip on the Dunia Baru with many new friends made…
By Clive White