**Scuba Divers in Burma **Can Take the Plunge from Luxury Yachts

By Paul Joseph

Cruise company Burma Boating is to launch monthly cruises around the Mergui Archipelago off the south coast of Burma combining two of the most sought-after activities in its pristine waters – yachting and scuba diving.

The SY Dallinghoo, a 30-metre schooner built by renowned US yacht designer Dudley Dix, will cast off from the port of Kawthaung in southern Myanmar once a month from November 2019 through April 2020 and traverse the Mergui Archipelago on an 8-day, 7-night sailing trip which can accommodate up to eight qualified divers.

“With this new Sail & Dive adventure, we wanted to offer something extraordinary,” says Michael Cole, the head of Burma Boating.

“There are few, if any, undiscovered nirvanas like the Mergui Archipelago left on this planet. These cruises will provide comfort, exquisite dining, and stops at no less than five fantastic dive sites, all of which feature a kaleidoscope of coral and magnificent marine life.”

The Mergui Archipelago is located in the Andaman Sea off the coast of southern Myanmar, and is home to the ethnic Moken community of fisherman, also known as “sea gypsies.”

For decades, the 800 islands, lagoons, atolls and coral reefs of the archipelago were off-limits to visitors. The islands are now accessible to limited sustainable tourism, though just five hotels have opened to date.

Among them is Awei Pila luxury resort, which opened its doors to the public last December, and earlier this year opened the first scuba diving centre in the region, complete with PADI certification classes for beginners.

By Paul Joseph