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Myanmar Dive compared to Similan Surin R Rock

Discussion in 'General Asia' started by dm_junkie, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. dm_junkie

    dm_junkie Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sinagpore-Malaysia
    Anyone has done diving in both the location? I long heard about Burma diving, but that when they do the crossing for the action dives to see the variety of sharks.

    However, most of the current trips are general and limited to as far as the Western Rock , Black Rock ... I am thinking of revisiting Similan LOB since 10 years ago. Or to try out Myanmar Diving which the logistics to get there and the Myanmar Govt tax is not cheap.

    Thanks in advance for the information .
  2. nudisusie

    nudisusie Barracuda

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Spain
    Done both in the same trip in 2010 with liveaboard out of Phuket. The liveaboard sorted all the taxes and paperwork - we just had to hand over passports and it took half a day to process us but that was then an easy relax day on the boat.
    Myanmar was very interesting diving with some big reef and nurse sharks and rays. we were also the only boat in the area. We didn;t have the mantas as we were a bit early (Dec/Jan) but certainly Feb/Mar things hot up.
    I wasn;t very impressed with Richelieu Rock, some small critters but the corals did not live up to expectation. Koh Bon was great with manta action and some fish schools.

    Personally I'd do the Myanmar trip if you have the opportunity - Similans is pretty busy with divers these days - loads of day boats. So if you wanted you could do a land based out of Khao Lak then hop on a boat to Myanmar.

    The Junk is a pretty good boat and they another boat coming that had some really good introductory offers for trips.
  3. kassj0peja

    kassj0peja Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    I did about 250 dives there. Most of them in southern but also Similans, Surin, Richilieu and Burma Banks.

    The best dive site is Richilieu in my opinion but it is crowded. At Western Rocky I did my best dives but I suppose being surrounded by Guitar Rays is not possible anymore. I was lucky at Richilieu Rock too (not many other divers and a few whale sharks) when they offered overnight in tents trips from Kuraburi. Lesser known sites in southern Mergui are (much) better than Surin. The Similans are different and probably similar to South Twin/North Twin which I dont know unfortunately. Black Rock was the worst dives I did because because the ground was covered in dead fish. If I go back (and I will for sure) it will be in the southern part. Black Rock is so too far up north for me and I would try to combine Souther Mergui with Richilieu/Surin.
  4. String

    String Master Instructor

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Grand Cayman
    Oldish thread but might be useful to add a few things comparing the two.

    Similan Islands themselves:-
    - Granite topography so numerous swimthroughs. Not a lot of coral due to the rock type.
    - Although there are a lot of dive boats the sites here aren't TOO overcrowded as there are quite a few sites to spread out (maybe 1 or 2 boats per site at times, sometimes only 1)
    - Might get lucky and see some big stuff on the northern sites of Island 9 but maybe not

    - Koh Bon in the park further out. Limestone. Good soft corals
    - 2 main dive areas, Ridge and pinnacle
    - Can be busy as only 2 dive sites (1 really after the first deep dive of the day) especially if big stuff seen
    - Chance of Whale Sharks and occasional Manta
    - Decent schools of fish and colour
    - The pinnacle is a very scenic dive if current and diver levels allow
    - Currenty

    - Koh Tachai
    - Can have big schools of fish
    - 2 maybe 3 dive sites so can get crowded
    - Occasional big stuff passing through
    - Interesting topography
    - Sunset dives here can be amazing
    - Currenty

    Richelieu Rock
    - Ridiculously good biodiversity. Things ranging from harlequin shrimp to schools of barracuda and late season, passing whale sharks
    - Covered in soft corals and glassfish
    - Can get very busy in high season as its a small site

    As for Myanmar, i think best described as "Colder, Darker, Greener".
    - Although you can get lucky and get acceptable vis, usually the visibility is significantly lower than Thailand. 6 to 10m of dark green with big strings of plankton, algae and sometimes sediment in the water. Its due to the nutrient runoff from the 300+ islands but dont expect clear or blue waters as a rule.
    Further out sites such as Black Rock and Western Rocky can have visibility on par with Thailand if you're lucky.

    - Dont expect any big fish or big schools of anything. Mergui is not a marine reserve and fishing boats are absolutely everywhere. The only rule is that cant fish the dive sites *while divers are in the water*. You'll see abandoned nets and fish traps on every dive site.

    - Do expect fantastic soft corals and weirder macro life than Thailand (more abundance of Sea horses, frogfish, odd nudis and so on.
    - You might get lucky and get to Black Rock and have a passive Manta migration where you'll see tens of individuals for several days on end. However, you might not get lucky and see none at all. Its hit and miss.
    - Nobody does the banks that much any more since the shark population got mainly wiped out.
    - Quieter dive sites. A lot of sites you'll see no boats. At the highlight sites such as Western rocky or Black Rock you might see 1 or 2 other dive boats only (vs 15+ at Richelieu in high season for example). You will have to share with fishing boats. The image below is the Black Rock dive site to give an example.


    So for me, Thailand for good vis, a good variety of diving with a chance of big stuff a few times a month. The diving overall even without the big stuff is pretty good around the area but in high season the famous sites can get crowded.
    Myanmar would be if you fancy a gamble with MAYBE getting a freak day or 2 of big stuff around and/or you like macro and aren't too bothered by clear, good visibility waters and want to avoid other divers.
    scubachild and AJen01 like this.
  5. AJen01

    AJen01 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Vietnam
    I wish I had read something like this before my most recent trip. I was in Mergui Archipelago (South) in February and the experience didn't match any of the (probably outdated) descriptions that are still online. We didn't get up to Black Rock due to problems with our boat, so the only silver lining is that it also doesn't sound as good as is often reported. Soft corals were great and macro was generally good, although the guides mentioned that populations of things like seahorses had crashed and so we were unable to find any at the usual 'hangouts'. Visibility was reduced to <5m at some dive sites (3/15).
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  6. kassj0peja

    kassj0peja Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    I wanted to add some more information regarding Myanmar since I came back from a very special trip. As mentioned above I have done around 250 dives in the northern Andaman Sea and I will definately come back. 10 years ago I did my DM training on MacLeod Island in the southern Mergui Archipelago. These divesites are rarely visited by liveaboard boats from Thailand. But I also went on a trip on Diva Andaman to Black Rock and the Burma Banks. I never understand why the divesites accessible from MacLeod Island are not part of liveaboard trips. Most of these islands are limestone islands so the rock looks dark. But there was one divesite which I liked very much because it was different. Boulder Rock is a granite rock and 10 years ago I saw the first manta ray there. We did the surface intervals at an island nearby and this island is so beautiful that I kept trying to come back for years. And finally there is a little resort called Boulder Bay Eco Resort on this island and I had the chance to go there again and even explore new divesites. And I am sure there is still a lot to explore and discover.

    The dive sites are very different to the ones near MacLeod Island. Visibility (up to 30 meters but can also go down to 10 meters) tends to better because it is even further away from the mainland (80 km) and the big islands. More than 10 divesites along the island's coastline are formed by massive granite boulders. Topography was very interesting with tunnels, swim throughs and a even a wall. The sandy bottom was reached between 18 and 27 meters depending on the divesite. Hard coral reefs are very healthy and there are also soft corals and seafans on spots exposed to currents. Marine is life is very diverse with all kinds of nudis, flatworms, porcelane crabs, mantis shrimp, lobster, scorpion & lion fish, pipefish, sea cucumbers, morray eels and lots of colorful reef fish. While snorkelling I saw baby blacktips, eagle rays and baracudas in the bays.
    But I also had the chance to go back to two off shore rocks I knew from 10 years ago. As mentioned above I saw my first Manta ray at Boulder Rock 10 years ago. And back then I also saw grey reef sharks, leopard sharks and ealge rays. Boulder Rock is just 15 minutes away by slow boat and an incredible divesite going down to more than 30 meters. Topography, coral, big fish and in general better visibility. This time I saw two eagle rays and a ribbon eel (amongst a lot of other stuff).
    The other highlight is Pink Canyon, a limestock rock 30 minutes east of Boulder Island. With its seafans and various soft corals it is the most colorful divesite. Also its topography is very spectacular with a canyon and a pinnacle. Very diverse marine life and I am sure special stuff like frog fish and ghost pipe fish can be found. 10 years ago there was a bobbit worm in the sand. Also bigger pelagics pass by but visibility tends to be a bit worse so it makes more sense to focus on the reef.

    underwater photos

    The island itself looks like the Similans or a bit like the inner Seychelles. It is a small granite island and every beach or the viewpoints can be reached via jungle trails in 20 to 30 minutes. It is 60 meters high. There are 6 beautiful beaches with white sand and great snorkelling. There are eagles and I heard many other birds. At the beginning of the trails there is a small freshwater lake and a few times I saw big monitor lizards there (2 meters long).

    Staying there is being very close to nature so the bungalows and the common area are basic. Now it is much easier to get a visa in Myanmar and access to the Mergui Archipelago. I did a land border crossing from Thailand. They also try to have marine biologist interns all the time on the island who do research on the coral reefs in the bays. It was great showing them divesites I knew already and try new ones with them.

    island photos
  7. kassj0peja

    kassj0peja Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499

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