The Moken People in Surin Islands

May 19, 2021

Any diving holiday with The Junk Liveaboards is an amazing adventure in itself, with spectacular diving, breathtaking sunsets, newly formed friendships and memories to treasure. For our guests on board The Junk and The Phinisi we always go the extra mile on every trip, offering an opportunity to step on land for an island visit.

Up in the Surin Islands, we take you ashore to visit a Moken village. The Moken people are a remarkable group of sea gypsies who have taken up permanent residence on one of the Surin Islands.  They are nomadic sea people who used to live and travel between the islands of Western Thailand and Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago. Traditionally, the Moken lived on their Kabang houseboats in the dry months and lived on land in temporary villages during the monsoon.

Moken Village Surin Island

Moken Village Surin Island

What makes the Moken unique?

Armed with extensive knowledge of the sea, the tides, and the reefs, the Moken have managed to develop exceptional underwater skills, such as free diving and spear fishing. There is no written Moken language; their history is passed down verbally through folklore from generation to generation. Family connections are strong and dependable. Another interesting tidbit is that the Moken language knows no words for individual possession, which clearly demonstrates a culture of sharing and giving.

By the early 1990’s, they started to settle permanently in their formerly seasonal monsoon settlements, particularly on one Surin Island called Surin Tai. The group now comprises around 300 Moken people. A visit to their village provides a great way to find out more about the Moken history, as well as their interesting way of life. They happily welcome tourists and are proud to show you around their bamboo homes on stilts. The village also hosts a health center, a school, a few souvenir stalls, and an information center.

Before the infamous tsunami happened in December 2004, there were two Moken villages located in ‘Sai End’ and ‘Ao Bon Lek’, counting about 20 households in each village. On December 26th of that year, the Moken, as experts of the sea, noticed the extraordinary change in the water pattern and realized immediately that something was amiss. They all swiftly packed up and fled in to the surrounding hills. Their quick reading of the ocean ensured all Moken came out of the tsunami unscathed.

Guests in Moken Village

Guests in Moken Village

Our chef on board always prepares delicious food to distribute to the villagers. You are more than welcome to support their community by purchasing the beautiful home-made handicrafts as souvenirs. Interested in reading more about the Moken? Find all info here. Meeting the Moken people is a great addition to your liveaboard holiday experience and at the same time benefits them through sustainable community tourism.

Book your dive holiday with The Junk Liveaboards for an unforgettable liveaboard experience with a little extra. Contact us today using the form below 🙂