Sail Away from the Crowds In Southeast Asia
When I travel, my most frequent frustration is visiting a "dont
miss" destination only to find busloads of my brethren swarming about
with video cameras, talking loudly.
As a traveler who wants to know a country through its people, culture
and history, I have devised ever more clever ways to escape the crowds.
Ive danced the lambada in an Amazonian rainstorm, and biked
Going to the Sun Road in Glacier Park, USA by the light of the moon. However,
off-season and after-hours are not the only alternatives. If youre
finding the shores too crowded, set sail for more remote locales.
Sailing, diving and kayaking adventures are a welcome alternative
to beaches teeming with tourists. Not only can setting sail bring you
to places inaccessible to the landlubber, but it can show you new sights,
some of them underwater.
Southeast Asia is an exceptional area to explore by boat because
of its extensive coastline and reasonably good infrastructure. Exotic
foods and colorful people draw crowds in increasing numbers, but what
most visitors dont know is there are pockets of unexplored territory,
including islands that have been closed to foreign visitors for as long
as 50 years.
- The Mergui Archipelago was off limits to outsiders until 1996.
Now, you can visit this remote paradise for a multi-sport maritime vacation.
Southeast Asia Liveaboards (SEAL) runs six-day trips that take
you within a stones throw of the deep jungle, which roars with
the call of tigers, elephants, monkeys, rhinoceros, wild pigs, parrots
The Mergui Archipelago is over 800 islands strong covering
10,000 square miles. It is virtually untouched by modern development.
Historically, the area was home to fisherman, pirates and maritime
merchants. The sea gypsies, a peaceful floating people, still paddle
Merguis island passages, and the area remains pristine as ever.
SEALs guests can now kayak, sail, snorkel, dive, lie on remote
beaches, explore the jungle, and visit with local peoples in the Archipelago.
- If youre uncertain about spending a week on a boat, or hesitant
to go too remote, many outfitters offer sailing, sea kayaking or diving
day trips. In Thailand, SeaCanoe runs a sea-kayaking trip to
Phang Nga Bay, near Phuket.
Phang Nga Bay is sprinkled with limestone crags, up to 300 meters
tall, tucked amongst mangrove swamps. Kingfishers and seabirds sail
overhead, undisturbed by the quiet swish of kayaks gliding over the
water. Guests stay in beachfront bungalows, kayaking into the hongs,
a complicated maze of tidal sea arches and caves that lead to
a chain of small lagoons, accessible only at certain tides. SeaCanoe
provides paddling instruction for newcomers to the sport as part of
- For die-hard divers, AquaLine has just introduced an exotic
itinerary to the Andaman Islands of India. In the Bay of Bengal
in the Andaman Sea, these islands have remained remote because of insufficient
infrastructure and unpredictable Indian Administration. Aboard the M/Y
Aqua One, AquaLines staff whisks you from the shores of Phuket,
Thailand to the Andaman Islands for a 10-day trip that includes seven
days of diving.
Offshore trips are a chance to adventure and enjoy in a group setting
far more intimate and worlds apart from a traditional cruise. Choose a
guide service or outfitter with a good reputation and references. Ask
in advance for detailed information about preparing for your trip--what
to bring and what to expect. If you prefer a private cabin, or are happier
in a bungalow than camping on the beach, find an outfitter who will meet
Wave farewell to the crowded Thai beaches and shores and let the wind
and water take you away.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The operators mentioned below are environmentally responsible and socially
conscious. All of them offer other adventures at sea in other Southeast
Kayaking trips in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Liveaboard dive trips to the Andaman Islands, the Burmese Coast, Mergui
Islands and other Southeast Asian Locations
PADI offers the most widely recognized dive certification in the world.
The PADI travel network, reputedly good on prices, but weaker on customer
service, can help you get to the dive destination of your choice.
A guide to dive tour operators world-wide
World Wide Sail, a listing of hundreds of crewed boats and charters.
OF PAGE | PREVIOUS PAGE
Copyright 2006. Berne Broudy. All rights reserved.