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What to expect on a Ranong Liveaboard
Liveaboards from Ranong offer divers the chance to dive into the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar. Ranong is a small town in the first southern province on the west coast of Thailand, located 568 km from Bangkok, bordered by Myanmar and the Indian Ocean. It is renowned for long periods of rain that render the province pristinely green. Ranong is a major border crossing between Thailand and neighboring Myanmar. Luxury liveaboards depart from Ranong for diving cruises to Thailand's best diving destinations. Liveaboard.com offers great itineraries on the best Ranong liveaboards to the Similan and Surin Islands or the more remote Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar. The remoteness of these islands, the unspoiled seascape and the abundant marine life that thrives in this region still holds the promise of exciting new dive-sites for underwater explorers. Never crowded with other boats, a visit to the Mergui Archipelago is highly recommended. Dedicated Mergui Archipelago itineraries range from five to seven nights to include other famous sites like Richelieu Rock, Koh Tachai and Koh Bon. The dive season runs from the end of October until May.
There are no medical facilities or chambers available for diving accidents in Burma, the nearest re-compression chamber is in Phuket and it may take a long time to get there. Diver safety is paramount in these waters.
LIVEABOARD DIVING FROM RANONG
The Mergui Archipelago comprises over 800 individual islands, scattered along a coastline over 450km and so far has remained untouched and largely undiscovered. This varied underwater landscape includes submerged pinnacles and seamounts, limestone rock pinnacles, fringing sloping reefs, boulders, and hard coral reef gardens. Visibility varies but can go up to 40 meters with mild to strong currents. The rugged, high-profile dive terrain and healthy reef ecosystems are home to a myriad of rare indigenous species. The abundance of marine life here is simply astounding.
Ranong liveaboard dive trips visit Western Rocky where five steep pinnacles break the surface to discover a limestone cave system below and a sandy rocky bottom. Numerous sea fans, canyons, swim-throughs, and large overhangs. Moderate to strong currents bring the likes of Bowmouth guitar sharks, Leopard sharks, Grey reef sharks, White-tip reef sharks, Tawny nurse sharks, Eagle rays to the fore with Squid and cuttlefish, Giant frogfish, Clown frogfish, Ghost pipefish, Harlequin shrimp seeking shelter in the crevices and anemones.
The sloping, stony limestone reef of Rocky Island with small granite boulder outcrops welcome Black-tip reef sharks, Manta rays, Octopus, Cuttlefish, Nudibranches, Scorpionfish, Pipefish, Moray eels and more. Another popular site is Shark Cave, its namesake given from resident Cat sharks, Tawny nurse sharks, and Grey reef sharks. For the macro lovers, Nudibranches, Ghost Pipefish, Frogfish, Pipefish, Harlequin shrimp are waiting to be found.
The submerged pinnacle of Fan Forest starting from 6m down to 30m is surrounded by massive granite boulders. The name renders itself to the extremely large sea fans that adorn the area, some up to 3m in diameter. North Twin, formed by a granite boulder plateau with surrounding rocky outcrops and sandy bottom composition hosts the Blotched fantail rays, Moray eels, Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, Harlequin shrimp and large schools of barracuda.
The gently sloping reef of South Twin with large scattered boulder outcrops provides a different experience with the possibility of Whale sharks. Here you will also see Black-tip reef sharks, Tawny reef sharks, White-tip reef sharks, Blotched fantail rays, Porcupine rays, Eagle rays, Frogfish, Ghost pipefish, Nudibranches, and Schooling big-eye trevally.
GETTING TO THE RANONG
A Myanmar liveaboard dive cruise to the Mergui Archipelago typically begins in Phuket, Khao Lak or Ranong, Thailand. Please check the Thailand liveaboard itinerary for details on the departure port. Nok Air flies daily from Bangkok Don Muang (DMK) to Ranong and takes approximately one hour. Ranong can also be reached on land by bus from Bangkok or neighboring towns. Trains run from Bangkok to Chumphon station, two hour's bus-ride from Ranong.