Liveaboard Diving in Richelieu Rock

What to expect on a Richelieu Rock Liveaboard

Liveaboard diving in Richelieu Rock ensures a trip to one of Thailand's best dive sites and a firm favourite amongst Thailand liveaboard itineraries. Approximately 45km off the Andaman coast, to the south east of the Surin Islands, this site somewhat resembles the form of a horse-shoe with a central limestone pinnacle and several smaller rock outcrops on either side. The topography of this site matched with its geographical remoteness attracts a great variety of marine life. Shifting tidal currents in this part of the Andaman Sea create upwellings of plankton, providing a feeding ground for small to large. Richelieu's remote location is not sheltered from the open water and recommended for the more advanced diver due to changing currents which can be mild to strong, but also mean that the best way to experience Richelieu Rock is via dive liveaboard.

Aboard a Richelieu Rock liveaboard divers can expect around 3 dives per day, with a choice of liveaboards ranging from simple low budget to luxury liveaboard. Most Richelieu Rock itineraries depart from Khao Lak and include a trip to the Similan Islands.

What You Can See

Sailing in Richelieu Rock offers divers the best chance to experience this iconic dive area. Richelieu was named by Jacques Cousteau after Cardinal Richelieu, of the Three Musketeers whose scarlet cape reminded him of the purple soft corals adorning the limestone rocks. Rising from the sandy bottom, the pinnacles are decorated with shelves and ledges, cracks, crevices and caves. The shallows are covered in sea anenomes and not far below an abundance of soft coral fields adorn the edges, surrounded by thousands of shimmering glassfish. The black coral bushes and gorgonians are found slightly deeper all providing shelter to the diverse marine life. This continuum of colour can be seen throughout the excellent multi-level diving that goes down to a maximum depth of 35m.

The biodiversity of the marine life and topography at Richelieu Rock is astounding. As you descend you can sometimes see the swirling blue masses of jacks, barracuda and fusiliers in a funnel like formation. Big schools of trevally, funneling barracuda and dogtooth tuna maraud the area in search of their next meal. The winter months of February to April bring with it more opportunity for whale shark sightings and other pelagics like the Manta Ray, feasting on plankton. Seeing these creatures gliding around you seemingly effortlessly is considered the ultimate experience for most divers and why most visit Richelieu. Although sightings can be rare, once they are spotted, they tend not to disappear quickly as it is their feeding ground. It is an exhilarating honour to share the waters with these gentle giants.

Do not be detracted by the larger marine life alone, as Richelieu is also home to a plethora of critters such as porcelain crabs, tiger tail sea horses, pipefish, robust ghost pipefish, mantis shrimps, harlequin shrimp, frogfish, leaf fish, nudibranch…the list goes on! Seahorses and harlequin shrimps can be found in the small caverns at the bottom of the rock. The larger marine life such as the cuttlefish, octopi and groupers can also be spotted going about their mating business, unaware of the peering scuba divers. For the photography inclined, it is worth having an interchangeable lens here as there is so much to capture or simply dive it a multitude of times, we can assure you it will never get boring.

Getting There

The best way to get to Richelieu Rock is on a Thailand liveaboard trip which will depart from either Phuket or Khao Lak. Further from Phuket than from Khao Lak, (200 km north of Phuket and 80 km northwest of Khao Lak), it is worth checking what port you prefer to depart from. Please check your itinerary before purchasing flight tickets. There are international flights into Phuket and / or domestic flights from Bangkok to Phuket. Khao Lak is about 100km north of Phuket and can be reached overland.

Dive cruises may vary but you can expect at least a 4 night cruise to the Surin Islands which will undoubtedly include Richelieu Rock on the itinerary. Please note that it is prohibited to dive in this area outside of the high season that runs from October to May due to rough seas.


Richelieu Rock Diving Reviews

  • 9.1 Superb
  • 178 Verified Reviews
  • 9.2 Superb
  • Stefan H
  • Österreich Österreich

Absolutes Highlight der Tauchreise. Riesige Fischschwärme und wunderschöne Korallen.

Diving Richelieu Rock in Februar on the Sawasdee Fasai

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Lisa H
  • Deutschland Deutschland

Sehr sehr schön. Mein neuer Lieblings Tauchspot

Diving Richelieu Rock in Februar on the Manta Queen 2

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Riet S
  • Schweiz Schweiz

Einfach top!!! Man könnte stundenlang die unzähligen Fische beobachten

Diving Richelieu Rock in Dezember on the Manta Queen 3

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Werner S
  • Österreich Österreich

Extremer fischreichtum walhaie 😍

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Manta Queen 6

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Petra H
  • Deutschland Deutschland

Lilafarbene Korallen und zum ersten Mal Seepferdchen, ghostpipefishs, unbeschreiblich schön!!! Ebenfalls der Nightdive hier, war sehr aufregend!

Diving Richelieu Rock in Februar on the Similan Explorer