One of the world’s best scuba diving sites — Myanmar’s own Myeik or Mergui Archipelago now has a certified diving school that opens up an underwater world of exploration in the beautiful islands of Southeast Myanmar.Previously only available via expensive live-aboard boat trips from Thailand, a new company called Mergui Dive Adventures aims to promote scuba diving in the island chain that has been quiet for so many years while similar islands in neighboring Thailand have become overrun with tourists.Director May Khine Soe of Mergui Dive Adventures says while there are other diving schools at Ngwesaung, they can’t offer the same access to the beauty of the Mergui Archipelago.
“Diving with us in the Mergui Archipelago is like going on your own exclusive, private dive. You won’t see any other divers.”
The new Mergui Dive Adventures welcomes guests to book diving adventures with them this summer.The official opening will take place in November at the start of the tourism high season: the first Myanmar-based scuba diving center with a focus on the Mergui Archipelago.Four courses ranging from beginner to advanced diving level are offered, according to May KhineSoe.
‘Discover Scuba Diving’ is a five-day beginner’s diving course. The ‘Dive Master’ course lasts a whole month and grants divers a qualification certificate with which divers may later supervise groups of other divers. Yangon native May Khine Soe says she’s proud to be the first-ever female diving instructor from Myanmar.She began her diving career in Pattaya, Thailand where she completed her open water and advanced diving courses. She then went on to Mozambique where she completed her rescue diver course at the same time as completing an underwater photography internship. Together with another instructor from South Africa who has seven years of diving experience, she is excited to lead divers into the region’s most beautiful and pristine dive site.“One of our goals is to open up our world of diving to the Myanmar people,” explained Managing Director Nicholas Aung Kyaw Paing.In Myanmar, due to the country’s lack of water safety awareness as well as the dangerous reputation of underwater currents and riptides at the beaches, people are sometimes reluctant to get involved in sea-based recreational activities.That’s why the Mergui Dive Adventures team expects mostly foreign customers at the beginning — but always with an underlying wish to make the sport more popular among Myanmar people. Prices start at $750 for a five-day course. Packages are inclusive of everything divers may need during their adventure — except accommodation and flights.May Khine Soe’s diving experience in Thailand — where five or six boats would disburse 10 to 15 divers in the same area — taught her the value of a quiet, undisturbed diving area.She intends to keep the groups in the Mergui Archipelago small and exclusive, taking care to preserve the integrity of the coral reefs.Already divers and friends of Mergui Dive Adventure have been organizing clean-up diving trips in the underwater landscape, removing ghost nets left from the region’s busy fishing industry that pose a serious threat to aquatic life in the Archipelago. The group of clean-up divers swim through the affected areas, dislodging the nets and other waste from the corals and removing them from the sea. An ongoing awareness campaign helps local fishermen and community leaders understand the need to keep the aquatic environment as beautiful as possible.“We have put all our passion in this dive centre. Whenever we find something good we want to share. When you see a trainer’s passion — it helps you find the passion yourself.”