Myanmar—or Burma, as some people will forever call it—only recently started exposing itself to the world. Travelers are flocking to this Southeast Asian country to see temples and shrines, palaces and pagodas before they’re overrun with, well, more tourists. With most people focused on the country’s rich—and often sad—history, the coast and the islands have been largely overlooked. So far. But Myanmar could easily become the next great Indian Ocean beach destination.
The Coco Islands lie 185 miles south of Myanmar’s Yangon Region. The islands, which include three main islands and a handful of smaller islands off those, were named by Portuguese sailors in the 16th century. Coco means coconut in Portuguese, so the name fit, since the islands are covered with coconut groves.
Geographically, the islands are part of India’s Andaman Islands, though they became Burmese when British rule ended. The isolated islands have been largely ignored, save for an alleged Chinese station set up to monitor Indian naval activity, since then. Until recently, visitors were prohibited. They’re now discovering gorgeous, golden-sand beaches.
Great Coco Island, the largest of the Coco Islands, is only six miles long. A small village, an airstrip, and a lagoon sit near the northern coast. Little Jerry Island lies off the southern tip. Saltwater crocodiles hang out near the mouths of narrow rivers. Plus green sea turtles use the beaches as their nesting spot. Sea turtle conservation research programs have even been established to protect the endangered creatures. Now all the island needs is a beach resort. Just a small one. There’s no need for the pristine beaches to feel overcrowded.