The long, 1,200 miles coastline of Myanmar stretches along the blue clear waters of the Indian Ocean, providing in many places palm-fringed secluded retreats with white sandy beaches. These beaches nestle along the warm waters of a wide tropical ocean. The sun shines brightly the whole year round but the best time to visit the beaches of Myanmar is in the months of November to the end of February when the cool northeast winds blow down from the snow-capped mountains of Tibet and China.
Ngwesaung Beach stretches for about nine miles along the Bay of Bengal. Facing west, the crescent-shaped beach provides views of stunning sunsets. At the back are the low hills of the Rakhine Yoma Range which can be climbed for more picturesque views of the whole area and the blue ocean beyond.
Before the beach resort was developed, there were only a few villages along the beach inhabited by Bamar, Kayin and Rakhine people mainly fisherfolk and makers of the local shrimp paste called Hmyin Ngapi. Some made shell necklaces, beads and small artifacts which they used to take to Chaungtha beach a few miles away to the north.
Protection of the environment is of paramount importance in developing beach resorts for tourists. When places of scenic beauty in a pristine state of nature are opened up by building roads and bridges, hotels and shops, it is often the case that over-development soon set in, and the natural beauty is spoilt when tall buildings and brightly lit streets make a place of what was once a village.
The ecological balance is swiftly lost with the influx of the town people driving away the wildlife. Other factors not directly ensuing from the resort development can also seriously affect the environment such as overfishing by foreign or local modern trawlers near the shore and the despoilation of the coral reefs protecting the clear waters of the resort.
The Rakhine Yoma mountains still covered with evergreen tropical forests are just behind the resorts; in fact, travelers have to go across the foothills to reach it. The beautiful tropical trees and bushes, the wild animals which include a few herds of elephants, the abundant bird life with even the White-headed Eagle but now found only in remote areas of Myanmar, and the lovely tropical fishes and marine animals all need our protection. A good balance needs to be carefully planned between economic development, tourism promotion and the long-term safeguarding of the environment for future generations of Myanmars and foreign visitors.