Richelieu Rock is Thailand’s premier dive site and one of the best places in Thailand to see Big Pelagics, macro treats like Harlequin Shrimp AND incredible corals all at one site. This huge pinnacle climbing from the depths of the Andaman Sea attracts scuba divers from around the world. The incredible concentration of biodiversity at one single site make Richelieu famous throughout diving circles. Visited by both liveaboards and Speedboats from Khao Lak daily, Richelieu Rock is not to be missed by any diver in the region.
Where is Richelieu Rock?
Richelieu Rock is part of the Surin National Marine Park, yet located about 18 kilometers east of the islands themselves. Richelieu Rock is just barely exposed at the lowest of tides-thus a navigational hazard for those boats not equipped with a GPS navigation system.
Situated 200 kilometers Northwest of Phuket and only 70 km from Khao Lak – the rock is far closer to the Burmese (Myanmar) border than it is to Phuket.
Diving Richelieu Rock
Located in the middle of the sea, Richelieu Rock provides no shelters for the boats. So there are only a few daytrips that visit there and many liveaboards that include this site as part of their routes. As there is no protection descents are usually done right of the back of the boat – not tied up.
As currents can be strong, dropping down fairly quickly can be part of these dives. Experienced guides in the area prepare for this and will have you drop off the site so you can drift into by the time you have descended.
Aiming for a depth down of 30-35 meters are optimum for both maximum time and pleasure! Many of the outlying boulders have incredible treats for the intrepid visitors. A slow circle of a site should bring you close to your safety stop by the end. As there is a current and very little protection – this is definitely a site for using a surface marker buoy.
You can dive here over and over and see something new. The currents change constantly, and it’s not always an easy dive. But, if you have an experienced dive guide and they give a good detailed briefing, you can learn how to hide from the currents and have a very enjoyable dive.
Richelieu Rock Currents
As currents can be strong this is definitely a site that should be done with an experienced guide. Be wary about this or dive centers that offering snorkeling or Introductory dives (Discover Scuba) at this site. We have even encountered dive centers that offer diving here from long tails.
There are only two safe ways to visit Richelieu Rock – Speedboat or Liveaboard.
The speedboats are a great way to visit if you are on a short time schedule, or have family who are not divers and will stay at resorts. These trips depart Khao Lak in the mornings and return by evening during the six month season. As Richelieu Rock is exposed, with no protected moorings…day trips can often be cancelled due to weather.
Usually liveaboards include at least two dives at Richelieu Rock as part of their itinerary and may add more dives here if guests wish. The most difficult decision for underwater photographers is which lens to dive Richelieu with!! Of course a wide angle lens is best for whale sharks but there is incredibly good macro photography to do here too.