Unspoilt. Undiscovered. Unbelievable. Unforgettable. Ngapali Beach, on the Burmese side of the Bay of Bengal, has the crystal blue waters you’ve been dreaming of, sunsets to die for and the freshest barbecued seafood to drool over, without the hordes of sunbathing tourists.
Ok, so there are a handful of resorts with a few lazy deckchairs and hammocks set up out front, with enough guests for the ladies carrying fruit platters on their heads to sell a coconut here and there, but there’s more than enough space for you all. If you walk the length of the beach, you’ll find parts where there isn’t anyone at all.
Alongside the handful of resorts are the handful of local barbecue shacks that serve the catch of the day straight from the water in front of them – squid, barracuda, crab, prawns, you name it. They all look the same, but Green Umbrella, run by a friendly family team, complete with cute son following his dad around while taking orders, was our favourite, serving the most delicious milkshake I’ve ever had – creamy cool coconut flavour.
You might need to get your hands dirty to crack into that juicy fresh seafood, but it’s more than worth it. There’s nothing like eating it with your bare hands, and your bare feet digging into the cool sand beneath you. That’s right, shoes are not required at dinner ,as your mode of transportation is a leisurely stroll down the beachfront. This has to be one of my favourite dress codes ever. (Don’t forget a headtorch though – there are few lights at night and hundreds of sandcrabs of all sizes scurrying to get out of your way).
If you feel the need to stretch your legs, you can walk up to the nearby fishing village and see how life by the sea really does revolve around it. What seems like the whole village rallies round to pull the nets in, while groups of resourceful women build racks from sticks to dry the bigger fish that they have butterflied open, pinky white flesh exposed. The smaller fish are laid out to dry on blue tarpaulins and from afar it looks like the sky has fallen upside down – a mass of sparkling stars on the ground.
As the sun goes down and the work day wraps up, the same group of local boys emerges out of thin air for the afternoon beach football game, complete with fishing baskets as goals. They aren’t fazed by the ox lazily pulling a cart that makes an appearance along the beachfront. They don’t let it interrupt their game, and the pack of stray dogs even sits and watches.
Oh, there’s another reason Ngapali Beach is unforgettable – it’s where we got engaged :). See the final picture below for my ‘proposal ring’ – as unique as Ngapali Beach itself!