Silhouette of a whale shark with diver watching on. This is why many divers come to Richelieu Rock
Richelieu Rock - Thailand
Thailand is renowned for world class scuba diving. Clear, warm tropical waters, healthy coral reefs and schools of multicoloured fish are the main reasons people love to dive here. However, not all diving destinations in Thailand are equal.
Koh Tao offers cheap courses for those on a budget. Pattaya benefits from being near Bangkok. Koh Samui has all the western onland facilities you can imagine. Krabi has magnificent limestone karsts with shallow waters. Phi Phi of course has "the beach". Koh Lanta is close to the delightful dive sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. But, amongst all these one location stands out. Richelieu Rock is the best dive site in Thailand and considered one of the top ten in the world.
What and where is Richelieu Rock?
Richelieu Rock is a striking open sea pinnacle situated 45km off the Andaman coastline and a short ride from the Surin Islands. The central rock at Richelieu is a jutting limestone spire, rising from 50m deep all the way to the surface. There are two more inner columns on either side of the central one. They rise from the depths in a similar fashion. Around this massive arched citadel there are further limestone boulders dotted around providing haven for a multitude of life.
Koh Phra Thong, only 35km south east of Richelieu, is the perfect place from which to launch your diving adventure. Coincidentally, Koh Phra Thong is also the home of the Blue Guru Diving, the closest dive centre to this stunning dive site.
Richelieu Rock massive central spires breach the surface only at low tide.
A Blue Guru Diving PADI Divemaster Intern practices guiding her divers at Richelieu Rock.
Blue Guru Diving use luxury dive cruiser 'Chandida' for all trips to Richelieu Rock, Koh Tachai & the Surin Islands
Why Richelieu Rock?
Richelieu's structure and isolation make it a magnet for a vast selection of marine life. It is a lone outpost in this part of the Andaman Sea, displacing tidal currents, causing upwellings of plankton and attracting life from many miles around.
Giant sea fans stretch across crevices between the limestone pinnacles at Richelieu Rock
The limestone fortress is itself covered with a spectrum of soft corals, undulating in the watery breeze. Alongside these are an array of hard corals, sea fans and anemones lining the rocky walls and springing out from unlikely crevices.
Macro Life at Richelieu Rock
An abundance of macro life can be found swarming close to their secure coral homes and hiding in dark corners. Richelieu Rock macro favourites include Tigertail Seahorses, Frogfish, Harlequin Shrimps, Ghost Pipefish and a fair range of Nudibranchs
There is also an assortment of mid-sized life engaged in various activities in sheltered underwater bays. Displaying Cuttlefish, mating Octopi, lurking Groupers and hovering Lionfish are all regularly observed by intrepid scuba divers.
Additionally, around the outside of the rocks there are other exciting creatures. Swirling schools of Barracuda patrol the inner sanctum. Opportunistic Trevallies dart through from out of nowhere. Large Groupers maraud around the base.
Large Pelagics at Richelieu Rock
And finally the reason many divers choose to visit Richelieu Rock are the Whale Shark and Manta Ray visitations. Kings of the sea these majestic beasts glide along without rivals, filtering huge amounts of water, feasting on the plankton blooms. These magnificent creatures are regularly viewed at Richelieu during high season. These magnificent creatures are regularly viewed at Richelieu during high season and form the focus for Blue Guru Diving & Golden Buddha Beach Resort's 'Whale Shark Program' which runs twice a year during whale shark season.