Travel in style to the best diving in Amazing Thailand and newly-accessible Myanmar! You'll dive the beautiful and marine life-rich Richelieu Rock in Thailand and Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago at the peak time of year. Highlights include soft corals, unique Andaman Sea fishes, zebra sharks, mantas with a little luck, and maybe something even bigger!
Thailand & Myanmar Itinerary:
Boarding at Tap Lamu pier 90 minutes north of Phuket airport (HKT), where you should plan to arrive by 4 pm on Saturday, December 24, we'll depart that evening for Richelieu Rock, the top dive site in Thailand, then continue on to the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).
Saturday; Arrival Phuket, boarding 5-6 pm, pick up from airport and host hotel at 4 - 4:45 pm
Sunday: 5 dives in Thailand (Richelieu Rock – weather permitting then depart for Myanmar)
Monday: morning Immigration clearance then 2 – 3 dives in Myanmar including night dive
(Rocky Island, Shark Cave)
Tuesday – 4 Dives Myanmar (no night dive if at Black Rock)
Wednesday – 4 Dives Myanmar (no night dive if at Black Rock)
Thursday: 2 – 3 dives Myanmar then afternoon immigration clearance – travel back to Thailand
Friday: 2 dives in Thailand, travel back to Tap Lamu Pier Friday afternoon, sunset cocktail
party, dinner onboard
Saturday: Check out 8:00 am
Possible Thailand Dive Sites:
Koh Bon and Koh Tachai are two uninhabited islands, situated between the Similans and Surin National Park to the North of the Similans. They offer a variety of excellent dive sites - including a breathtaking drop-off - with a wealth of hard and soft corals, and great opportunities to dive with manta rays.
The best dive site in Thailand lies Northeast of Koh Tachai, close to the southern border of Burma. This small rocky outcrop is covered in soft corals and offers an amazing variety of marine life, with the chance to see Stingrays, Guitar Rays, Leopard Sharks and large schools of Trevallies and Barracudas.
Richelieu Rock enjoys an excellent reputation for whale sharks encounters, though of course observing these gentle giants is never guaranteed. Make finding the unique pineapple fish the objective of your dive, and you may get lucky with something larger.
Myanmar Dive Sites:
Western Rocky is one of Mergui Archipelago’s southernmost dive sites and one of the most exciting. Western Rocky is a small island that includes a beautiful underwater passage right that is lit by daylight all the way through. This area is visited by large nurse sharks, other shark species including the famous whale shark, bowmouth guitar fish, harlequin shrimp, frogfish sea horses, while the anemone-lined cavity is full of oversized lobsters and crabs. The four islets off shore are worth a dive on their own, the walls covered with clams and colourful sponges, large reef squid and chevron barracuda. Divers will enjoy a spectacular night dive on the south wall where the red and orange coral are lit to perfection by the moonlight.
The islet of Black Rock is a small rock in the middle of Myanmar's ocean. It provides a steep wall drop with rugged boulder formations and fine soft coral. A shallow section of tube coral can be found with magnificient macro critters. Many consider Black Rock to be the finest dive spot in the Mergui Archipelago. Its crystal clear visibility provides breath-taking views past the rock walls to the ongoing procession of barracuda, tuna, mackerel, rays, reef sharks, whale sharks and eagle rays.
It stands in a northwest to southeast position, with steep banks all around, and with a wall on its west and south west sides. Many divers' favorite spot in the Mergui Archipelago, Black Rock will have your your heart pounding from spectacular passes of whitetips, silvertips, and black-tip sharks. Standing alone in the Andaman Sea 100 miles north west of the Thai-Burmese border town of Kawthaung, Black Rock acts as a natural fish magnet and is just as famous for its incredible schools of mobula rays. Then there's the majestic encounters with manta rays and eagle rays soaring above and around you off the deep north western corner, and huge marble stingrays and leopard sharks on the sandy bottom.
Diving down on to the boulder slopes to the south you'll find sprawling carpets of brown disc anemones and purple soft corals. Home amongst the lower boulders is the granddaddy of all great barracudas.
Soft corals are most dense in the deeper south west sections corner of Black Rock. This colorful area includes orange cup corals, feather stars, gorgonian sea fans, and tiger striped anemones that cover the large boulders. Spotted hawkfish can be found in the sea fans. Black spotted pufferfish seem too lazy to swim here, preferring to just rest on a rock ledge. Blue ringed angelfish swim around the rocks. This is a good spot for seeing reef sharks or even bull sharks. Head to the shallower eastern section for mantis shrimp, red swimmer crabs and large hermit crabs. Moray eels including zebra and white mouthed morays can be seen plus a large number of cowrie shells. Also dotted on the rocks are the unusual white hairy urchins. Black Rock is a truly awesome Burma dive site. Not to be missed!
Die hard shark spotters will not be disappointed in Burma. Underwater cave systems provide plenty of opportunity to see nurse sharks, crustaceans and clown fish. Shark Cave is home to a group of large nurse sharks, grey reef sharks and sweetlips. You will also see a floor covered in yellow sponges, a ceiling of marigold cup corals and a whole host of marine delights, from dancing shrimp, clams and sea stars to moray eels, cowries and sea slugs.
Several miles off shore, North Twin offers a dive experience that is quite unique within the Mergui archipelago. It has large granite boulders covered in gorgonian sea fans and soft corals. This is the place to spot schools of goat fish, bat fish and snapper in the shallow water, a popular manta cleaning station, ,yellowtail barracudas, big eye trevally, tuna and eagle rays.
High Rock is a limestone rock situated 40 nautical miles northwest of Kawthaugh. High Rock has a huge variety of marine life. Large schools of fish covering the reef walls include fusiliers, snappers, barracudas, schooling bannerfish, wrasse, trevallies, triggerfish, leather jackets, flutefish, pufferfish, lionfish, bearded scorpionfish, freckled porcupinefish, scorpionfish, long spine dea urchin, moray eels, giant hermit crabs, sponge crabs, decorator crabs, long hair hermit crabs, painted rock lobsters and banded boxer fish. Species of corals include orange cup corals and red finger soft corals. There is also an abundance of gorgonian sea fans, zigzag clams, crinoids and encrusting sponges here.
High Rock lies some 500 metres to the south of Quion Island, just 25 km from Kawthaung. It is a small islet with a single tree, and has a wall on its north and east sides, and a rocky reef on its south and west. The sheer volume of fish life at High Rock hits you as soon as you descend. Blue line snapper form huge schools that obscure the reef wall from view. Glassfish are equally numerous, as are gold-striped fuseliers and yellow tail barracuda. Trevally dart into shoals of bait fish that move as one, safety in numbers their only defence. Large flutemouths stalk their prey and titan (giant) triggerfish guard their territory.
Striped soldier fish and squirrel fish congregate together in the many cracks and crevices, and barrel sponges dominate the seabed with common lion fish sheltering from the currents inside the rims. The number of bearded and humpback scorpionfish on the wall make touching anything a risky business. These poisonous fish are prevalent most places in the Mergui Archipelago but there numbers are highest here. False stonefish can also be spotted here. Several grouper species such as white-lined and blue-lined grouper are common as are wrasse and leatherjackets. Freckled porcupine fish hide in the crevices.
The walls feature orange and green cup corals and a small overhang. There's a huge variety of invertebrates here such as lobster, hermit crabs, zigzag clams, black diadema urchins, oysters and squid. Yellow-margin, fimbriated, giant and white-eyed moray eels can all be seen in abundance, and different species are often even seen sharing the same hole. Look into the crags and you may be surprised to see Indian Ocean nurse sharks, residents of Mergui, snoozing the day away.
High Rock is also an excellent night dive location too, when all the cup corals burst open in brilliant orange. This, together with the orange reflected eyes of the Durban dancing shrimp, makes a spectacular sight as the whole wall appears alive and feeding in the nutrient rich water. Decorator crabs, hermit and round crabs can be seen. Moray eels swim over the wall, avoiding divers' torches and parrotfish sleep in their protective cocoons.
A magnificent coral reef that starts at 15 feet and plunges to 120 feet. This beautiful dive site is covered with huge sea fan coral. Ghost pipe fish, harlequin shrimp, eagle rays, rainbow runners, jacks, trevallies and barracuda are frequently seen.
Itinerary and dive site selection subject to modification depending on conditions and captain's judgment.
We'll return to Tap Lamu pier late on Friday night, and disembark at 8 am on Saturday, December 31. You may fly back to Bangkok or home after noon, or ring in your New Year enjoying Phuket. Remember to stop diving 24 hours prior to your flight.
If you fly back to Bangkok on Saturday afternoon, December 31 around 3 p.m. you can join us for the Best of Bangkok and Angkor Wat.
Ask us about a pre-trip adventure in Myanmar or a stay at a resort in Phuket, or join us post-liveaboard for the best of Bangkok and Angkor Wat!
Not included: airfare to Phuket (HKT), Thai National Park fee of $95 and Myanmar visa/park fee of $265 (paid on board), instruction if needed, 7% VAT on onboard purchases, crew gratuity, travel insurance (recommended for this vacation)
From North America, most travelers can depart on Thursday, December 22 and connect in Asia to a flight to Phuket (HKT) arriving on the night of December 23, with a beach day to relax before diving. Make sure you arrive no later than 4 pm on December 24.
Since you will be diving on Friday, December 30, please do not plan to fly home or elsewhere before noon on December 31. Ask us for flight and itinerary suggestions!
$700 to hold your space; second deposit of $1000 due 180 days prior to departure, and final payment due 120 days prior to departure.
How to reserve your space:
We'll place a space on courtesy hold for you and send you a confirmation e-mail.
Complete and return the trip application and waiver from the letter with your deposit by check or credit card.
Make your airline reservations. We're happy to help you find the best flights.