Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Myanmar (formerly Burma) sits to the north of Thailand and is home to an incredible cruising area. More than 800 islands are littered across a 14,000 square mile area, and access to these islands has only been possible for the last 15 years due to Myanmar's isolationist policies which were enforced between 1947 and 1997. As such, many of these islands are unspoilt and rarely visited, true island paradises that await the adventurous explorer. Only about 50 of the 800 islands are inhabited, meaning that you really can have an island or remote beach all to yourself.
The jungles of the islands are just about untouched, and the coral reefs that surround many of the islands are teeming with life, making the snorkelling and diving excellent. The indigenous people of the islands are called the Moken, and they have managed to cling to their peaceful and traditional nomadic existence despite more and more incursions from the outside world. These gentle people can sometimes be seen travelling from island to island in large flotillas.
The sailing conditions in the Mergui Archipelago are the best between November and July, with warm weather, flat seas and a reliable wind. Between May to July there are strong onshore winds and thunderstorms, hurricanes can come through the area between May and June and October to December, and there is heavy rain from July to November. The archipelago has a number of uncharted rocks and islands, and if you want to explore this beautiful cruising area it is required by the government that you have a local guide.
Charts courtesy of Southeast Asia Pilot - www.southeastasiapilot.com