Things to do
Set within the waters of Lampi Marine National Park, the diving and snorkelling here are world class, with whale sharks, dolphins, eagle and manta rays all calling the islands home. Above the water be as active or indolent as you like. Kayak or paddle board through Wa Ale’s pristine mangrove forests. Trek jungle trails to see flora and fauna indigenous to the island, including civet and forest cats, monkeys, mouse deer and the near-extinct pangolin.
Hop between the islands, keeping eyes peeled for kingfishers and white-bellied sea eagles. Take a leisurely swim in the warm azure waters of Wa Ale’s protected bay. Stroll along one of the quiet, white-sand beaches. Swing in a hammock with a cocktail in hand. Join the daily yoga class. Or relax in your villa with a private or couple’s massage.
You can also visit the resort’s organic farm where most of the island’s produce is grown, see the local villages that Wa Ale helps support, and visit the island’s sea turtle hatchery, built with funds from Wa Ale to protect the green and leatherback turtles that nest on the island’s beaches from October until May.
Accommodation is the epitome of barefoot luxury. The 11 Tented Beach Villas are spread out along Turtle Beach, less than 100 feet from the ocean. Each has been built using locally reclaimed materials and boasts a large front deck with ocean views, a king-size canopy bed, separate sofa area, a heavenly outdoor bathroom, rear deck and garden. It’s not uncommon to find turtles nesting beneath your villa.
To these you can add three Treetop Villas built high in the forest canopy. And if they’re still not private enough, a ten-minute boat ride takes you further along the coast to Honeymoon Beach, a kilometre-long stretch of sand home to a trio of three-bedroom Beach Bungalows and a spectacular, four-bedroom, fully staffed Beach House.
Make no bones about it, Wa Ale isn’t easy to get to. Then again, it wouldn’t be nearly as special if it was. The 800 islands of the Myeik Archipelago are located off the southernmost tip of Myanmar, close to the Thai border. Whatever your starting point, the last leg of the journey begins at Kawthaung on the coast of Myanmar, where you’ll board a covered speedboat or open-topped RIB for the hour and 40-minute ride out to Wa Ale.
From Yangon it’s an hour and a half flight to Kawthaung. It’s just as easy, however, to arrive from Thailand. From Bangkok, it’s an hour’s flight to Ranong in Thailand, where you’ll be met and taken across the border by boat to Kawthaung. You can also reach Ranong in about three and a half hours by road from Phuket.
What stands out
Wa Ale’s eco credentials and commitment to conservation are second to none. The resort donates 20% of net profits and 2% of room revenues to the Lampi Foundation, which funds social welfare and conservation projects in the Lampi Marine National Park. So far, the foundation has saved over 4,000 sea turtles by guarding nests against poaching, helped repair local schools, and provided medical supplies for under-resourced clinics in the area.
Food & Drink
Food and drink impresses from breakfast until dinner. The two on-site restaurants serve a delicious, healthy blend of Asian and Mediterranean-inspired dishes using organic produce from the island’s farm and gardens and seafood caught sustainably from the surrounding islands. Menus change daily and BBQ dinners are prepared on select evenings. There’s a brick oven for pizzas and roasting meats; sauces and salads are always superb, and the daily breakfast pastries a practically to die for.