Myanmar Beaches – More than just sand and sea!
For many travelers, a few days at the beach is the perfect way to end a holiday. Fortunately, Myanmar is blessed with miles of coastline so finding a quiet stretch of sand is not an issue. But if you are looking for more than just sea, sun and sand, Myanmar has an abundance of unique coastal excursions to offer. Read on to find out our favorite adventures in Ngapali and Ngwe Saung beaches.
Myanmar Beaches #1: Ngapali
Ngapali is the most famous beach for international travelers and it is easy to see why. The remote beach boasts 3-kilometres of beautiful soft white sands, calm blue seas and a selection of great hotels. In fact, the beach is named after Napoli in Italy due to its resemblance. Getting to Ngapali takes a bit of effort- either a domestic flight or an epic 18-24 hour drive from Yangon– but the rewards are worth it. Ngapali of course is great for relaxing but for those looking for a bit more action here are some options you may enjoy!
A touch of Adventure
If you are looking for just a bit of activity to break up your time lounging on the beach, a bike ride is a great option. The quiet streets and leafy villages around Ngapali are easily explored by bike. A round of golf at Ngapali’s 9-hole course is certain to be a memorable experience for golfers- the course may not be world class, but the setting is remarkable. Or if you fancy more adrenaline, take a hot air balloon flight at sunrise to capture sky-high views of the Rakhine coast and mountains.
Traditional Fishing Village visits
Want to see what life is like on living on Myanmar’s coast? The best way to experience this is to visit the fishing villages that lie just beyond Ngapali’s stretch of hotels and resorts. Take a walk before breakfast to the southern stretch of the shore to Gyeiktaw Village where you will find boats unloading their catch from the previous night. Watch as the fishermen pass buckets full of fish and other fresh seafood to the shore where they are then sorted for various sales. Some are sent to a section where chefs from hotels and local residents come to buy the day’s freshest catch. Other smaller items such as minnows and shrimps are laid on bamboo mats on the sand to dry. Later they are collected and packaged up to send to the markets and other parts of Myanmar for sale. If waking up early is not your thing, then walk down later in the day to see the fishermen mending their nets and prepping their boats for an evening at sea where they will hope for an abundance of fish, squid, prawns and more!
Few visitors realize that behind the shores of Ngapali lie hills covered in dense tropical forest. Lace up your sport shoes for a half day trek, passing through farming villages before reaching the Rakhine Hills. Climb high through the dense forest-covered hills, discovering a variety of flora and fauna as well as capturing epic views of the coastline. You may sweat a bit but the views are worth the effort!
Not far from the coast lies Pearl Island, an uninhabited island that is the perfect day-trip destination. Cruise across the Bay of Bengal in a wooden fishing boat, enjoying the views on the way. Jump overboard with a mask and snorkel to discover the teeming marine life beneath the surface or climb into a kayak for a quiet paddle around the island’s shore. After your adventures at sea, find a shady palm tree and enjoy a fresh coconut or a refreshing beer in this remarkable tropical setting.
Myanmar Beaches #2: Ngwe Saung
Translating as ‘silver beach’, Ngwe Saung is a remarkable stretch of 15 kilometers of wide, sandy beach. Although not quite as visually spectacular as Ngapali, Ngwe Saung has its own charm that is hard to describe. On the weekends and during the winter months, Yangon residents flock to Ngwe Saung for a bit of fun in the sun. Since it is only 5-6 hours drive from the big city, it is an easily accessible coastal destination with an abundance of hotels to suit any beach lover.
Island Escapes: Birds Island
Off the coast of Ngwe Saung lie many small islands and a plethora of options for aquatic adventures. For just 30 USD you can hire a private boat equipped with snorkeling equipment and life jackets to explore the Bay of Bengal. One of the most popular is Birds Island. After leaving the shore, sail across the sea to the best snorkeling spots. Drop overboard and discover an array of marine life- from colorful fish to ancient coral. Fishermen living on the island serve up fresh seafood and, of course, cold drinks! On Birds Island you can also trek to the island’s peak for great views and also to see the birds’ nests from which the island is named.
Island Escapes: Lovers Island
The romantically named Lovers Island is another option for a half day trip and is popular with local families as well as couples. When the tide is out, the waters recede, and you can walk across a sandy path to the edge of the island. Mingle with the locals who come to enjoy the tranquil waters and island life. This is simple natural beauty at it’s best! Horse rides are also available if you wish or you can hike to the top of this small island and capture sunset views to wrap up the day.
Unique Beach Adventures
If you want to stay on dry land there is still plenty to do! Local touts offer horseback riding and four-wheel vehicles for trips on the sand. Affordable and fun, these are a great way to see more of Myanmar’s Bay of Bengal coastline and perhaps make a few local friends along the way. Although these options are available throughout the day, the best time to take advantage of these local transport options is at sunset to see the colorful evening rays on the tranquil waters. Afterwards you can grab a fresh coconut from one of the vendors along with some barbecued seafood grilled up right beside your lounge chair. If you are still feeling active, random games of volleyball and badminton often take place on the sand and the locals welcome a bit of foreign competition so don’t be shy and join in the fun!
Whether you opt for Ngapali or Ngwe Saung as your coastal destination, your beach holiday in Myanmar will certainly be a different experience from seaside escapes back home. Take advantage of the experiences on offer and get a truly unique beach stay that is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime!