Richelieu Rock diving is celebrated as one of the best dive sites this planet has to offer – and this is not just hyperbole.
Richelieu Rock diving is located in the heart of the Surin Islands National Park. This famous rocky pinnacle lies some way from the mainland and is best accessed from Khao Lak. Either by speedboat for a day trip or as part of a several day long liveaboard adventure.
Richelieu Rock Diving – How it got its name?
Jacques Cousteau is said to have originally discovered Richelieu Rock diving after asking local fishermen where the greatest abundance of fish could be found. There are a couple of different theories as to how the site got its name. One is that Cousteau was so in awe of the pinnacle’s covering of purple soft corals that he named it after the purple of Cardinal Richelieu’s cape. Others claim that the site is in fact named after Admiral Richelieu, a commander in the Royal Thai Navy
Richelieu Rock Diving is well known to be one of the top dive sites
The site itself is shaped rather like a horseshoe. At low tide the very top of the pinnacle can just be seen poking out of the top of the water. The rocks then slope steeply down to a sandy bottom, found at around 30 meters. Depending on the current and general conditions your guide will choose to take you either on the outside of the horseshoe, around the inside, or to cover both if circumstances allow. As Richelieu Rock diving is well known to be one of the top dive sites in the world, it can get rather busy down there. To ensure there’s no mix-ups under water, do make sure you stick closely to your guide and stay at their level at all times. Diving from a liveaboard will allow you to dive first thing in the morning, before the crowds from the day trips arrive. And, if timed correctly, you can even get the whole dive site to yourself for a rather magical experience. It’s also definitely worth diving the site on several occasions, as no two dives are ever quite the same.
Richelieu Rock Diving unforgettable
Whilst the topography alone and purple soft corals make Richelieu Rock diving an unforgettable experience, the real reason to dive here is the sheer extravaganza of wildlife to be found.
“What will we see?!” I hear you cry. Well, pretty much anything and everything is possible at Richelieu Rock. Around every corner, and between every crack and every rock there’s something different to behold. So, to name but a few possibilities: white eye moray eels, peacock mantis shrimp, juvenile blue triggerfish, nudibranches galore, tiger tail seahorse, tomato anemone fish, scorpionfish (turned purple to camouflage against the corals), harlequin shrimp, yellow cube boxfish, cuttlefish, octopus, turtles and even perhaps a whale shark if you’re very very lucky.