When you look at the Lonely Planet entry for Ngapali beach at the Indian Ocean, you get about half a page of description. Similarly for Reisehandbuch or other famous travel guides. The internet doesn’t provide much more information: white beaches, beautiful sunsets, not flooded by tourist.
Why is there so little information?
1) there is not more to say
2) it has not been fully discovered.
There are two ways to get to Thandwe (formerly known as Sandoway) in Rakhine state, a town about four miles from Ngapali beach, in Western Myanmar. The easy, comfortable way is by airplane from Yangon (or other places in Myanmar). From Yangon it takes about 50 minutes on a small plane. There are several flights a day until 2.30p.m. in the afternoon due to the short runway and infrastructure.
The other option is to go on a 14-hour bus ride from Yangon across country, the Irrawaddy river and a mountain range. Although I would have preferred this way, as it sounded more adventurous and fun, I simply didn’t have the time to do.
Air travel prices have doubled in the last two years, so it is not the cheapest option to get to a beach, but due to this, Ngapali is not flooded by cheap tourists yet.
Once you land in Thandwe and transfer to the beach, it is apparent why the travel guides write-ups are so brief. In Ngapali beach, that is rumored to be named after Napoli (Naples in Italy), there is no lack of natural beauty – for sure – and you get lulled into just sitting on a beautiful beach, diving into the waves, marveling over the white sand, swooning over sunsets, and listening to the crashing waves at night. The main activities are probably walks on the beach. There would be snorkeling at Pearl Island, a small island off the coast, which is quietly advertised by the fishermen lingering on the beach with the rest of the small crowd, if you are not too lazy to get out of your beach chair.
Besides that, you may want to taste your way through modestly priced cocktails at different beach bars, unless you are staying at Amata Resort where one night costs more than some Myanma people earn in year. I looked at the drinks menu where the foreign still water was more than USD7 excluding service charge and VAT. I only look at it.
If you stay several days, you might want to venture out to Thandwe and have a look at the three small pagodas up on the hill, but I didn’t go there and I have not met anyone who went. But I guess after a few days you might get restless with all this natural beauty surrounding you and absolutely no internet connection to be had. Another option would then be trying the golf course that you can reach by golf cart from the Amata Resort, but it would probably require that you know how to play golf and having a well-working credit card (although in our hotel, they only accepted cash for everything).
During British colonial times, Ngapali was the only beach that offered decent, stylish housing for tourist, but then it kind of got forgotten until about 1993. Since then there has been quite a few new real estate developments and a renewed interest in the sleepy fisher village on the Western coast of the country. While today, the beauty and calm is still intact, I wonder how long this will remain – big hotels such as the Hilton and others have already moved in.