SCUBA opportunities abound in one of the world’s last undiscovered paradises
Awei Pila, an exclusive resort set on a remote tropical island, has opened a SCUBA diving center in Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago, offering Open Water courses and certification to first-time divers.
The Awei Pila Dive Center will provide all levels of PADI diving courses from DSD (Discover Scuba Diving) to DM (Dive Master), which can either be tackled at home by Internet ahead of traveling to the Mergui Archipelago or learned over three to four days at the resort, which lies on a pristine beach just a stone’s throw from hundreds of meters of live coral reefs.
Courses can be conducted in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German or Italian.
Once certified, guests may join experienced divers at 12 different dive sites with depths ranging from 12 to 30 meters, including two places that are rapidly becoming world-famous dive sites – Shark Cave, which is just 15 minutes by boat from the dive center, and Rocky Island.
“We go out in the morning for two dives, stop for lunch, then take one dive in the afternoon,” said Awei Pila’s resident marine biologist and SCUBA instructor Marcelo Guimaraes. “We also have night dives upon demand, where you’ll see squid, lobsters, turtles and an array of open corals.”
The Mergui Archipelago is known for its diversity and quantity of marine life. Guimaraes said divers can expect to see schools of fish so massive and so tightly packed that they often can’t see their buddy just a few meters away.
“Divers can swim among schools of barracudas, yellow snappers and fusiliers, and will be able to get up close and personal with nudibranches, sea horses and scorpion fish,” he said. “And at certain times of the year, we come across Manta rays and whale sharks.”
Awei Pila Dive Center employs a 27-foot RIB dive boat with a capacity for six divers plus instructors. Brand new equipment at the facility includes Aqua Lung regulators & BCDs, and Bauer air compressors.
Guimaraes said his team aims to provide a “sustainable tourism experience” and will include a complimentary course in Coral Conservation to all advanced divers as part of their Green Fins initiative, a UN-backed program to encourage environmentally astute policies among divers and dive centers.
A DSD experience at Awei Pila costs US$120, while an Open Water Course costs $620, including four open water dives, training materials, equipment, and a globally recognized certification card.
Located some 50 miles from the mainland and nestled among an archipelago of 800 islands, atolls and reefs, travel to the island of Pila involves a 2.5-hour speedboat ride from the port of Kawthaung. The island boasts 40 mostly deserted beaches, three sources of freshwater, and one Moken “Sea Gypsy” settlement.
Owned by Yangon-based Memories Group, Awei Pila is the only resort on the island, opening its doors to guests on December 15, 2018. It has 24 air-conditioned tented villas, a spa, and a restaurant with 24-hour service. All-inclusive stays, including three gourmet meals per day, start at $750 per night for two persons.
New General Manager Steffen Kroehl describes the resort as “barefoot luxury”, while reiterating Memories’ goal of creating “minimum impact on a pristine environment.”
The Memories Group is an experience-driven company that owns and operates Memories Travel and several resorts and activities in Myanmar, including hotels, boutique lodges, hot-air balloon adventures, and sailing tours.
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