Diving in Dawei was something me and partner wanted to do but weren’t sure it was possible. This post will show that it is possible, infrastructure is in place for scuba diving in Dawei and although not the best the diving itself is better than we were expecting.
Dawei is a small city in southern Myanmar with a population of 140,000. It can be reached by a 13 hour bus ride or a 1 hour 15 minute flight from the major city of Yangon. It’s also possible to travel east from Dawei and head into Thailand.
There is only one dive shop in Dawei, the excellent Dawei Princess Diving and Snorkelling.
We exchanged a few emails with them whilst travelling further north in Myanmar. They needed a minimum of four people for the trip (we were just two) and a day’s diving cost 140 USD per person, making it expensive for diving in Asia. We were unsure whether we would be able to dive but decided to make the trip down to the area anyway. If we couldn’t organise diving we would enjoy the beautiful beaches nearby and soak up more of the fascinating culture.
Luck found us on the bus as we travelled south from Mawlamyine. We got chatting to a friendly Austrian who was also keen to dive in Myanmar. That made three people willing to dive so when we arrived in Dawei we went straight to the dive shop and said “hi, we’re three people and we all want to dive tomorrow, what do you say?”. The friendly crew at the shop chatted amongst themselves, made a quick call and confirmed yes it was possible. We were all set to go diving the very next day.
After making the payments and filling all the necessary paperwork we were told we were to be picked up the following morning at 7:30.
Dawei Princess Diving and Snorkelling not only run diving and snorkelling day trips but kayaking, fishing and multi-day cultural tours in the area. All the staff were professional and friendly and our two divemasters spoke great English. They picked us up right on time and we excitedly made the one hour drive to San Lan, a small fishing village where our boat and the rest of the crew awaited us.
Many places in Myanmar still don’t see a lot of tourists so with smiles and giggles from the fisherman and villagers we boarded the inflatable dingy to the dive boat. The dive boat was very well setup, a good dive deck, a large sun deck and an inside seating area with air conditioning, fans and a TV. Despite being 140 dollars we were very well taken care of. The fee included all rental equipment, two dives, transport, unlimited water & soft drinks, and tea and coffee. Also included was a tasty lunch that would have been big enough for two people.
After an hours journey out to our first dive site at lighthouse island we donned our gear. All the equipment was brand new and in great working order. The crew gave a short dive briefing of what to expect. I feel the briefing should have gone into more detail and have more safety information included.
Me and my dive buddy have been diving all over the world and experienced some of the best diving out there so we were not getting our hopes up. I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than underwhelmed because of my expectations.
We like to dive in new places and not many can say they’ve dived in Myanmar. Fortunately we were pleasantly surprised.
We got down under the surface into some beautiful coral gardens. It was a field of whip coral and everywhere you looked there were clown fish guarding their small patches of anemone. There were also many eels, chomping incessantly at nothing. The visibility turned against us towards the end of that first dive but the cool, angular rock formations of lighthouse island made up for it.
Back on the boat we tucked into lunch and had a midday snorkel around a beautiful bay of white sand and turquoise water. The snorkeling was nothing special but we headed for the beach, walking on deserted white sand with only inquisitive fisherman for company was quite special.
With lunch digested it was time for our second dive, the boat moved round to the next bay and we jumped in. The visibility was not great but we made the best of it. On this dive we had more clown fish and similar life to the previous dive, with a few nudibranchs and pipe fish thrown into the mix. We came back to the surface with a smile on our face and the sun in our eyes, feeling quite content.
On board again we lounged on the sun deck sharing stories of travels as divers do, the boat making its way back to shore. The boat came into San Lan at sunset as the fishermen tended their nets, politely stealing glances in our direction. We jumped back on the mini bus and were back to Dawei by 6pm.
I thoroughly enjoyed the diving as I always do but It’s important to say this is not the “wow, mind blown” diving you can have in Indonesia, The Philippines or such places. As someone who’s addicted to diving it’s always nice to get under the water, it still feels like flying. With such a professional and friendly crew it was impossible not to have a big smile on your face and feel totally satisfied.
If your budget is tight and you only want to dive the best spots then you can skip Dawei. However, if you’re travelling in Myanmar (and you should go travel in Myanmar), want to have a great day out and dive where few others have then you should go get wet.