Myanmar isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind when you think of jungle-draped islands. But in the Myeik Archipelago – with its 800 islands in the Andaman Sea – you can find the wonderfully wild spirited Wa Ale Resort: a green eco-resort paradise surrounded by lush nature.
This retreat was the first hotel to open in the Myeik Archipelago, founded by Chris and Farina Kingsley. As well as being hoteliers, the Kingsley’s run a successful furniture business in Asia and the United States. Their mission was to create a retreat that was as eco-friendly as possible – supporting local tradesmen, workers and the wider community in the process.
Guests here can immerse themselves in a remote natural setting. The resort is nestled within a cove and is surrounded by lovely beaches and epic rock formations. Visitors can hike through lush mangrove forests, swim at stunning sandy beaches and snorkel at amazing coral reefs nearby.
The Location, Myeik Archipelago in Myanmar
The main draw of Wa Ale Resort is the location. It’s situated 50 miles from Kawthaung in Southern Myanmar in the untouched Myeik Archipelago (near the Thai border). The archipelago is home to some of the most incredible marine life and reefs in Southeast Asia. And the best part is that hardly anyone travels out this way – this is a region well off the tourist trail!
You can easily combine this destination with a trip to Thailand, as there are well mapped out and easy to follow routes from Bangkok and Phuket. Or you can take a 1 ½ hour flight from Yangon, Myanmar to Kawthuang and then jump on a speed boat to Wa Ale Resort. The friendly faces at the resort will help you disembark and take you to your room for check-in.
The climate in the Myeik Archipelago is lovely with an average temp of 27°C. Expect sunny days but note there are two seasons: dry and rainy. During monsoon season, it rains occasionally. November to March offers blue skies and no wind, April is the warmest and May is the start of monsoon season. The resort closes between June 1st – September 30th.
Luxury Accommodations at Wa Ale Resort
There are four accommodation options at Wa Ale Resort: Tented Beach Villas, Treetop Villas, Beach Houses and Beach Bungalows. The Tented Beach Villas offer sweeping views of the ocean. These villas can house up to four guests (perfect for families with two children). Guests will enjoy a living area for relaxing and a deck with a lounge area for sunbathing.
The three Treetop Villas at Wa Ale are set amidst a canopy of trees with ocean views and ample space for a breeze to pass through. Couples will find these tree accommodations ideal as they were built for two people.
Then you have the four-bedroom Beach Houses backed by an indigenous forest which offer a true oasis on the secluded Honeymoon Beach. Four bedrooms means they are perfect for family getaways or groups of friends looking to have a unique Southeast Asian holiday together. You will even enjoy the services of a private butler and gourmet private in-house dining!
There are two types of beach homes on offer on Honeymoon Beach: Beach Houses and Beach Bungalows. The Beach Houses, as just mentioned, house up to 12 people while the slightly smaller bungalows are three bedrooms in size and can intimately accommodate up to 6 people.
8 Experiences to Enjoy at Wa Ale Resort
From relaxing at the resort to venturing into the tropical forests, Wa Ale gives travelers the best of both worlds! One great aspect about the retreat is the ability to book a private guide who can take you on an adventure or two. When it comes to diving, you will need to join a group as naturally that is an activity suited for more people. So here are the top 8 experiences:
1. Visit the Moken Villages of Lampi Marine National Park
The peaceful Moken people are made up of different tribes who live along the Andaman Coast. Their way of life is characterized by the sea – moving from bay to bay, and fishing village to fishing village, depending on the season and weather conditions. With a guide at Wa Ale, you can visit the local villages and learn about their customs, traditions and unique culture.
2. Trek the Various Jungle Trails near Wa Ale Resort
The flora and fauna on display in the Myeik Archipelago of Myanmar is epic. You simply have to put aside a day or two to go trekking! There are plenty of trails to choose from: from the Discovery Trail which takes you through massive jungle trees and streams, to the Honeymoon Trail stretching along the coast, to the Paradise Trail where wildlife can be seen in abundance.
The Wildlife Guides at Wa Ale Resort can take you on a personalized experience if you don’t wish to go hiking on your own. Early morning hikes give you the chance to experience the beauty and stillness of sunrise, while late afternoon hikes give you the opportunity to witness a gorgeous sunset.
3. Kayak through Beautiful Rivers and Mangrove Forests
To the east of Wa Ale is the Salet Galet River and it’s the perfect spot to go kayaking. Paddle down turquoise waters, through mangrove forests, as you are surrounded by jungle and the serene sounds of wildlife captivate you. Again, Wa Ale guides can accompany you to stay on the right channels and look out for the best wildlife along the way. This is a magical experience.
4. Go Snorkeling and Diving in Coral Reefs and Caves
The diving locations around Wa Ale Resort and within Lampi Marine National Park are abundant. Certified divers at the resort can explain all of the different programs on offer from the Discover Scuba program for beginner divers to more advanced programs for experienced divers.
For those who prefer snorkeling, you can opt for Canyon Cove or Mushroom Reef. Canyon Cove is a popular reef with depths ranging up to18 meters. Colorful fish, well-preserved corals and a bunch of other species can be seen. Mushroom Reef is located only ten minutes away from Canyon Cove and (as the name suggests) is home to these incredible mushroom corals.
5. Swim in the Tidal Pools Surrounding Wa Ale Resort
Low tide at Wa Ale means one thing: tidal pools! Head out to these caves to discover a sandy-bottom swimming pool. Interconnected cave systems and rock pools join together and create a playground for adventures to go exploring. Just be sure to keep an eye out for the sea urchins and nudibranchs so you don’t get an unexpected surprise!
6. Excursion to the Secluded Hornbill Island
If you are a bird lover then this activity is for you. Hornbills can be found in abundance on Hornbill Island – a tiny-wee sister island to Wa Ale. Everything will be provided on a boat tour (including snacks and drinks), so you can simply sit back and enjoy exploring the endless plain-pouched hornbills who live in this area. Sunsets here are especially romantic!
7. Relax at the Resort with a Massage and Some Yoga
After a few days of outdoor adventures, you might enjoy the prospect of relaxing at the resort and getting pampered. A deep tissue massage always goes down well while you are on holiday and a bit of yoga will get you centered and relaxed, before enjoying the range of delicious meals for dinner at the Main Pavilion Restaurant & Bar or the River Cafe & Bar.
8. Enjoy the Excellent Cuisine of Wa Ale Resort
Wa Ale prides itself on their food and its a pivotal part of the experience. Produce comes directly from local farms, organic gardens and sustainably caught seafood – so you know only the freshest ingredients are used. The menus are centered around a fusion of Asian and Med cuisines. You can even take a Burmese cooking class in their beautiful “display kitchen”.
A Commitment to Sustainability & Eco-Tourism
This truly unique resort is 100% focused on developing a sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly approach to tourism and hospitality. They donate large chunks of their net profit and room revenues to the Lampi Foundation, which was founded to help fund social welfare and conservation projects.
Wa Ale wants to create a lasting legacy where the Myeik Archipelago is treated with the respect and reverence it deserves. Other partners who contribute to the foundation include Global Medical Volunteers, Turtle Survival Alliance and The Wildlife Conservation Society, among others.
One of their biggest projects to date was the sea turtle hatchery in Lampi Marine National Park. It provided a safe space for turtles to nest on the island of Wa Ale. The turtles nest their eggs between October and May each year, so if you are visiting between those months you might get to see a little spectacle of the natural world unfold before your very eyes.
During the past two years, over 40 sea turtle nests have been protected. This amounts to over 4,000 turtles being saved against poaching and forms of environmental degradation. It’s nice to travel the world knowing that your money is going to ethical companies and towards ethical causes.
Need to Know Before you Go
Wa Ale will be reopening in October 2022 but they are taking bookings now. The only thing you need to organize are the various visa requirements about traveling to Myanmar and meeting health requirements in relation to the pandemic. Apart from that, in 2022 it should be all go!
We will leave you with a quote from Chris and Farina Kinglsey, the founders of the resort: “Wa Ale is everything that is right in the world, the way exotic resorts should be built, and luxurious wilderness explorations taken.” With these words in mind, the team at Wa Ale look forward to seeing you soon.