Dive Richelieu rock in 2020-2021: Thailand's best dive site
Also rated as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world
Why should you consider diving Richelieu Rock ?
A small Rock in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Richelieu Rock made it to the top 10 dive sites in the world, and for a reason: divers here are spoilt between big and small wonders...
There has never been a better time to dive Richelieu Rock as this year you will be able to enjoy all its wonder without sharing the dive sites with many divers.
The horseshoe-shaped reef discovered by Jacques-Yves Cousteau what named by the famous French pioneer diver for its purple soft corals as well as diverse marine life...
Marine life in Richelieu Rock dive site
Look up, or in the blue and you might encounter the biggest fish in the planet, the mysterious Whale Shark and its popular cousin, the giant oceanic Manta Ray, you can also very often sight schools of Barracudas hovering above the reef, Reef Sharks coming out briefly from the deep, Potato Groupers hiding in caves or giant morays sticking out from a rock.
But Richelieu Rock is also paradise for underwater photographers focusing on macro life; look well in the soft coral and sea fans for a spectacular array of small critters like seahorse, Pipefish, Ghost Pipefish, Harlequin Shrimp, Frog fish and Nudibranch of all shapes and colours.
Of course all the Marine life in between can also be spotted in Richelieu Rock, from the popular clown fish defending fiercely their anemone to mating cuttlefish and all to colourful coral fishes you can expect in the top dive sites of the Indian Ocean.
Due to the currents sweeping over this pinnacle, there’s not so much hard coral, but plenty of soft coral in vivid colours. The currents can be strong, but it’s easy enough to find shelter on one side of the pinnacle or another. The dive site is too big to be explored in a single dive and most liveaboards will include at least 2 dives here. MV Smiling Seahorse is one of the few liveaboard offering 4 dives here on our short cruise (3 days and 4 days trips).
Diving conditions at Richelieu Rock
The pinnacle can easily entertain the most eager explorers for up to 4 dives. With rocks laying on a sandy bottom at up to 35 meters, you should watch closely your no-deco time. The south side is a sheltered bay sloping down gently while the other side is made of walls separated by corridors. Watch out for the current, it might bring you the most exciting visitors but should be taken into account when planning the dive itinerary and exit.
Diving in Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Koh Tachai is only allowed between the 15th of October and the 15th of May, when Surin National park is opened to visitors. The conditions are usually very good throughout this period.
It is said that February to April is the best time to encounter whale sharks and Manta rays in this region although there is a pretty good chance of seeing them at any time of the season.
The water temperature is usually around 29°C at the surface and 27°C at depth, but occasionally it can drop down to 25°C due to thermoclines. These are like 'blankets' of cold water and are a natural phenomenon that happen most often in November and December as a result of the transition of wet season into dry season.
February and March are the driest months and, with regular flat seas, are probably the best time to visit Richelieu and the rest of the area.
From May to early October, the area is closed due to rough sea surface conditions.
Richelieu Rock: dive site map
Getting there: only reachable by boat
Depth: 10 to 40 m (for certified deep divers)
Current: Mild to strong
Marine Life: Rich diversity from pelagic to special Macro life
Level required: better suited to advanced divers
Water temperature: 26 to 30 °C
Dive type: Reef dive (boulder or walls)
Visibility: up to 30 m
Diving period: November to April
Location: 10km East of Surin Islands (9.3628° N, 98.0219° E)
Top of the pinnacle: can be visible at low tide and below the water at high tide