With over 2.000 km of coastline and countless islands, Myanmar has a bewildering potentiality of numberless beach locations, the most beautiful of which are to be found in the 804 islands of the Mergui Archepelago, many of which are as yet entirely undeveloped, a situation bound to change rapidly as the economic bounty of international tourism begins to incentivise the country’s previously closed attitude. 


At present, the country’s most popular and therefore most developed beach holiday hotspot is the area south of Sittwe, and ostensibly named after the Italian city of Napoli, palm-fringed Ngapali Beach is a long stretch of fine light golden sand facing the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal. 


With a host of upmarket and luxury resorts the beach still manages to retain an air of tranquillity even during the peak of the high season from November to March. When the monsoon rains come, from June through to October, many of the hotels offer fewer rooms or close altogether. 


The closest beaches to Yangon are Chaungtha and Ngwe Saung on the eastern fringe of the headland of the Ayeyarwady delta, both very popular with the locals and Yangonites of which Ngwe Saung, also known as silver beach, is the more upmarket. 


South of the capital, in the Andaman Sea, along the country’s narrow strip of the Malay Peninsula bordering Thailand, close to the town of Dawei, Maungmagan Beach was the favourite with the British during the time of empire, and has accommodation and local restaurants, while 14 miles to the north the three fine sandy bays of Nabule Beach are separated by large granite boulders, upon one of which a golden stupa has been erected, and offers a quiet haven with little in the way of distraction or facilities.


To the south of Dawei a whole string of lovely white sand beaches litter the coastline down to the mouth of the Dawei River, though few are served even by roads, let alone resorts. The longest and most accessible is Teyzit Beach, the northern end of which is home to a fishing village. 


Continuing southwards, San Marina bay is a 3km often deserted stretch of slightly dull white sand and is worth the visit not only for the beach, but also the Myawyik Pagoda, which sits on an islet at its southern end connected by a causeway at low tide. 


The true gems of Myanmar however, are the countless mostly uninhabited glistening white-sand island pearls of the Mergui Archipelago, encircling lush verdant virgin forests, among the World’s very finest and uniquely unspoilt beaches, remaining for the present an undiscovered secret to those who have not yet visited Myanmar.


Often compared in beauty to the far better known beaches of Western Thailand which share the same stretch of the Indian Ocean, but without the millions of footfalls that annually leave their traces in the sands of that country, the atmosphere of these havens is outstandingly beautiful and serene, and largely only known among an elite fringe of the Scuba diving fraternity who pass through the area to visit the many pristine reefs and spectacular dive sites of the surrounding ocean beyond.


Macleod Island is home to an eco-lodge and is a classic horseshoe white-sand fantasy bay backed by pristine jungle and facing the clear liquid blue luminescence of the Andaman Sea. The resort, presently the only facility in the whole archipelago, also provides trekking, snorkelling, and has a PADI dive centre.

This splendid isolation is accessible by boat from Kawthaung on the very southern tip of Myanmar, the focus of Myanmar based liveaboard boat tours to the islands. The islands are also accessible by boat from Dawei and via liveaboard tours from Phuket in Thailand, chiefly operated by recreational diving companies. 


Even further offshore in the Andaman Sea from Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar’s possession of the stunning islands of Great and Little Coco, part of the Andaman and Nicobar Island group, offers another possibility of a great sandy getaway with fabulous white beaches in mesmeric clear blue waters, accessible by boat or aeroplane from Yangon.