Dive Sites

The Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar (Burma) is made up of more than 800 tropical islands. As well as diving the best sites such as Black Rock, Three Islets, Western Rocky ( Shark cave), we have added fantastic new and secret dive sites which we have found over the years diving the Mergui Archipelago. The sheer number of islands gives us the chance to make discovery dives on sites never dived before. Our aim is to show you the very best diving the Mergui Archipelago has to offer.
Here are some of the dive sites that we will visit on our Myanmar liveaboard.

three islets

Three Islets (Shark Cave/ In Through the Out Door)
*Difficulty Level: Easy

This is probably the most famous dive site in Mergui. As the name suggests, there are three different rocky islets rising out of the sea.
The large “brother” Shark Cave, has a canyon which transects the island via a short swim through.
You begin in a protected lagoon watching schooling fish and sponge encrusted rock and as you move towards the edge of the lagoon, a cavern will become visible.
Below you is another small swim through which often contains a nurse shark or large ray. Ahead you will see the other side of the island so just watch the surge and kick when the current is with you.
Shooting through the hole you will emerge into the light to find a garden of soft corals, anemones, colorful crinoids, and hard corals growing over rocks. This is a wonderful place to search for ghost pipefish and to photograph your favorite anemone fish. From there you may swim around along the healthy ridge to where you began, swim towards Middle Brother to the south, or circumnavigate all of Shark Cave Islet.
Your routes are governed by current strength and direction.Middle Brother can be dived separately or together with Shark Cave.
There is a short channel that separates the two sites and if the current is mild, it’s easy to stay along the bottom and swim between the two.
Most days the visibility is good enough to see across the sand towards the other site. Middle Brother is visible from the surface and underwater has a wall covered in soft corals and then a ridge descending into the depths with several interesting crevasses and canyons full of color.
You may follow the ridge down to depth or swim inside to the amphitheater-shaped reef where schooling reef fish congregate. Little Brother lies towards the open sea and although it appears small on the surface, underwater you’ll find many rocks and pinnacles as you swim towards Shark Cave.
Depending on currents, this dive can be easy or more challenging. It’s best to follow your dive guide as they will find the best way to negotiate the currents as they flow around the submerged rocks.
The water teems with schools of fusilier, jacks, and barracuda all feeding on the plankton brought in by the current. If the current is slack, you’ll spend the dive searching for ghost pipefish, tigertail seahorse, nudibranchs and frogfish. The pinnacle is teeming with life.

black rock

Black Rock
*Difficulty Level: Easy

This large barren rock lying in the middle of nowhere in the central archipelago is considered to be the highlight of any trip and generally the furthest north most boats visit. The surrounding water is deeper than in the rest of the archipelago, attracting pelagic fish. Black Rock is famous as a cleaning station for oceanic manta rays.
The mantas come through to be cleaned by cleaner fish, hang around the rock for a day or two and then move along to parts unknown (though some are being tagged and tracked now.) They come within a few centimeters of divers and interact with us. The rock also attracts schooling fish, including several species of jacks and fusiliers while dense schools of glassfish hover over the coral heads.
Game fish circle the rock. The soft and hard corals are healthy and vibrant, and the visibility is normally excellent. Reef life is typical of the Andaman Sea, lionfish, scorpionfish, anemones and anemonefish, octopus, cuttlefish, stonefish, moray eels–all are very common on this rock and in the rest of the archipelago. Among other moray species seen regularly are jeweled, zebra, fimbriated and white-eyed, the latter two of which are sometimes seen snuggling together in the same crevice.
Boats usually spend a full day here or longer as there are no other dive sites close by. Conditions change with the tides so each dive is unique. When the dive site is happening, it’s really happening and is one of the best dives anywhere.

Fan Forest Pinnacle
*Difficulty Level: Medium

Fan Forest is located exactly five nautical miles north of Western Rocky and away from all other islands. It’s best dived on a rising tide.
The pinnacle rises from 60+ meters up to five meters below the surface. The dive requires a live entry where the captain will position you over the dive site and when you jump in, you swim down to the pinnacle, then stop and check the current.
It’s best to swim into the current and over the side of the dive site then swim around and end the dive down current. The boat will pick you up on the surface away from the pinnacle. A surface marker buoy is essential here.
Underwater you find a huge rock shaped like a pyramid. Part of the rock drops straight down to depth while other areas step down in stages with sand banks forming steps at 15, 30 and 45 meters. In the sand we look for leopard sharks and rays and on the walls we find large gorgonian fans bathed by plankton-rich water.
Don’t try to swim around the whole site in one dive. It’s possible but a lot of work. There is little need to see the whole thing as every bit of it is covered with marine life. One highlight here is watching mating cuttlefish.

beach near Candy canyon

Candy Canyon and Rainbow Rock
*Difficulty Level: Medium

Candy Canyon and Rainbow Rock are the 2 main dive sites in the central area of the archipelago. These are considered inshore dive sites and the water is full of plankton and algae making for a very healthy marine environment.Although visibility is not as good here as in other places, it’s worth spending a day or two exploring, especially if you enjoy seeing critters and macro.
This is the critter and soft coral capital of the Mergui Archipelago.
All the dive sites here are bathed with currents which are often very strong (depending on tidal flow.) The soft limestone rocks are littered with canyons, caverns and pinnacles which make for lots of hiding places for marine life. The soft corals really shine here and show especially vibrant oranges, yellows, pinks and purples. Candy Canyon and Rainbow Rock are named because of this rainbow of color.
There are quite a few dive sites in this area. Over the years some have gotten better and some have declined so it’s always an exploratory journey during the days we are here. If currents are very strong, we’ll dive in areas where we can drift. If currents are mild we can jump on dive sites which have swim-throughs and interesting underwater topography.
Nudibranch geeks go nuts in this area especially if they venture out into the sandy areas surrounding the reefs. It seems we always see something new here. Invertebrates are well represented with shellfish, feather stars, hermit crabs, tube anemones, burrowing sea cucumbers, sea stars, and dozens of types of shrimp and crab.

Western Rocky
*Difficulty Level: Medium

Crayfish Cave and Eagle’s Nest are the two dive main sites at Western Rocky. Crayfish Cave is located on the main rocky islet and features a cave and an arch starting in 22 meters of water, then sloping up as you enter the cave. Usually there is a friendly school of stripped snapper hovering around with lots of colorful seafans. The arch itself is big and dramatic, a great backdrop for photos. The tunnel exits out the other side so it’s a complete swim-through of the rock. It’s an easy cavern but better dived with a light as it’s pitch black for the first few meters.
Inside the cavern you’ll find colorful sponges lining the ceiling and sides and a gravel bottom which keeps the visibility good. Sweeper fish and lobsters or crayfish occupy the cavern. You may spend 10 or more minutes inside the island, there is a lot to see top to bottom. It’s safe as the entrance and exits are easy to see, light or no light. It requires no special training.
As you exit the tunnel you have a choice to turn left or right. If the current is mild you may swim over to Eagles Nest but usually it’s better to dive the sites separately. The wall is covered with crinoids, sponges, soft corals and hard corals. Fish life is excellent and plentiful.
Eagles Nest is one of the very best dives in the archipelago as you never know what you’re going to see here. If you are lucky enough to see large pelagics during your cruise, Eagles Nest and Black Rock are the two places you will see them. Whale sharks and shovelnose rays visit the area as well as barracuda, schools of jack fish, snappers, and fusiliers. The dive site pumps with action. Deeper at Eagles Nest is one of the best fields of colorful sea fans you’ll find in the Andaman Sea. And moving up to the shallow waters you’ll find frogfish, ghost pipefish and harlequin shrimp living in the crevices and and sponge-covered overhangs. It’s a perfect dive as you are entertained at every depth.

shark lagoon

Shark Lagoon
*Difficulty Level: Easy

Often the first or the last dive of a trip, Shark Lagoon is located near the Thai border and is the closest good dive site to Kawthaung, our port of entry and exit.
This island as seen from the air is more lagoon than island with one large shallow area which is connected by a short overhang to the open ocean.
At high tide, you have to enter by ducking down, holding your breath or using your regulator. At low tide you may just swim inside.
Inside the lagoon you may remove your BCD and weight belt and swim around. It’s quite large and to swim from end to end would take most people 30 minutes or more.
There is a sandy bottom with sparse coral growth and the view up to the jungle covered cliffs is spectacular. It would be a good bird watching area if one had the time to spend a few hours in the lagoon with a kayak.

Schedule and Bookings | Schedule and Bookings 2019 - 2020