The airport is Sandoway (SNW) the English derivative of Thandwe, the main local regional town.
Ngapali Beach is the premier resort of Myanmar but development has been discrete and although there are some 15+ hotels (with 4 more being built) all are small by international standards and all are low rise, in the tree line, making them virtually invisible from the sea. Many of the hotels have less than 30 rooms and even the largest, Amata , has only 100 which means that even at peak season the maximum visitors, spread over the 3 beaches including the main Ngapali 3km beach front, are never more than 1500 so the beaches can seem deserted.
The sand on all three tourist beaches is soft and golden, the beaches gently sloping and the sea warm and clean. This January, after 10 visits over the years, was the first time I came across any jelly fish but for a few days there were some small blue stingers-most unusual for that time of year. The hotels keep their beach front clear of litter so the beaches are generally pretty clean and the tourist beach walkers scoop up any discarded plastic water bottles.
Accommodation used to be cheap but all the new development is now aimed at the luxury market. In peak season the cheapest rooms are now $40+ whilst the luxury boutique hotels charge $450+ plus for the best rooms but there is still a wide range of hotels to meet most pockets.
The main tourist season runs from mid October to the end of April at which time most hotels close , and are boarded up and mothballed for the monsoon season.
A couple of small hotels in Linthar village stay open all year for business or NGO guests.
The monsoon can be very vicious (it is the same weather that devastates Bangladesh most years) and in some years the fisherman cannot put out to sea for 3 months at a time.
Visitors nationalities pretty much match the Myanmar profile with French, German and Italian being the main groups followed by other Europeans and with English speakers being in the minority-but all visitors are expected to speak English to hotel staff and to the locals which is great!
Initially, the hotels catered for the 3 day beach extension market but increasingly Ngapali Beach is seen as a tranquil and relaxing sun and sea resort for longer stays, as an alternative to Thailand.
Qatar Air is now promoting it as such to the Russian market with flights from Moscow via Doha to Yangon so there are more upmarket Russian speaking guests coming for 10/14 day visits.
Whilst the locals may use the bus service from Yangon, via Pyay (Prome), to Thandwe it is not for the faint hearted as it a 12-14 hour trip on very bad roads through the jungle of the Arakan range. Backpackers who have undertaken the trip say it is one of the worst in Myanmar.The cost is 10,000kyat single,10% of the cost of the air fare.
So flying is the only option.
Out of season there may only be one or two flights a week from Yangon -who wants to be in an ATR in the monsoon!
In peak season there can be up to 5 flights a day from Yangon at prices (Jan 13) of about $200 return.
There are also daily flights in peak season from Nyaung U (Bagan) via Heho for about $150 single.