Published: 24th June, 2016
Palautonetone is a low-lying island a few kilometres north of Kawthaung. It's conveniently linked to the mainland by a bridge. Following a geographical pattern set by many of Mergui’s islands, the land-facing east side is mangroves, while the sea-facing side boasts a long sandy beach. The island is also home to a lively fishing village. The island, village and beach all take the name of Palautonetone. It's probably a corruption of the Malay word for island, Pulao.
The wooden bridge in its own right is spectacular, leaving the coast just north of Victoria Cliff Resort and extending a good kilometre on stilts into the mangroves opposite. We assume the wood is teak and including the lengthy raised stretch through the mangroves it comes in at well over a kilometre — so next time someone tells you U-Bein is the world’s longest teak bridge tell them you’ve been to Palautonetone! The bridge is, surprisingly, open to motorised transport.
After the mangroves, the road weaves through the busy village; while it’s rustic and picturesque, it’s also seriously grubby. They don’t see many foreigners in these parts so you’ll need to put on your best Queen of England impersonation as you weave past gob-smacked locals and excited kids. (If you want to attract a crowd, stop at a village tea shop.) The large village, clustered around a bay on the island’s north, is a mixture of Bamar Buddhist, Chinese and Muslims. A small Buddhist pagoda tops a low hill just west of town.
Before the end of the village, a dirt track turns off left to circumvent some low hills and lead you to the beach on the island’s west side. Sticking to the usual Burmese beach template, there’s a string of seafood restaurants, beer stations and cafes, plus snack, hat and T-shirt vendors, and inner tube renters, where the access road hits the sea. Then kilometres of empty casuarina-lined sandy beach stretches into the distance, broken only by the occasional fishing boat or wading reef egret. The water’s murky — it’s close to the mainland — but the yellow sand beach, especially away from the cafes, was litter free.
This is a great beach for a dip or a fine spot for a spicy squid salad and cold beer. In early 2016 there was no accommodation, but we can see that changing fairly soon. We added on a 5,000 kyat tip to our tuk tuk fare to Maliwan but if you did just want to visit Palautonetone we reckon 15,000 kyat return ought to do the trick. The bridge is the immediate turning after Victoria Cliff and so 7.5 kilometres from town, while for the beach count around 12 kilometres in total.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.