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
  • 130 Verified Reviews
  • 8.0 Very good
  • yaqoub Y
  • United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates

as the say one of the best dive site in the world .never saw and thing like it . the dive site is Pulsing with strange new creatures.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Hallelujah

  • 6.0 Review score
  • Martin Z
  • Switzerland Switzerland

Diving at the Richelieu Rock was good despite the very strong current

Diving Richelieu Rock in May on the Manta Queen 2

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Adam H
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Fantastic. Amazing soft corals, loads of fish life. This is still a great site.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Manta Queen 1

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Marie-Anne K
  • Mauritius Mauritius

Best as that’s where we saw the whale sharks

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Sawasdee Fasai

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Cheng hao Y
  • Taiwan Taiwan

Lots of fish and beautiful coral

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Manta Queen 6

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Charles D
  • France France

Fantastic place, a must dive one

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Deep Andaman Queen

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • John M
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Richelieu Rock was the highlight of my diving holiday. Even four dives on this site was not too many. There was an enormous variety of life at all depths, right down to 30m and our twilight dive was spectacular as we watched trevallies hunting in packs. As an added bonus we encountered Whale Sharks on three of the dives.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the The Junk

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Matthew S
  • Australia Australia

Absolutely fantastic. It was so beautiful, there was so much to see. We saw eels, heaps of lion fish, huge schools of yellow snapper, it was incredible.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Manta Queen 2

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Vasilios G
  • Austria Austria

One of the best spots but big risk to dive in crowd

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Giamani

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • ILGUK J
  • South Korea South Korea

One of the richest point I have ever been. From bottom to the safety stop, I could enjoyed. Corals, fishes.. it was like I was in huge aquarium.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Manta Queen 7

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • amir M
  • Israel Israel

Outstanding by any scale. We would love to stay there the entire safari.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Similan Explorer

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Melih Cevdet O
  • Turkey Turkey

Whaleshark, very alive marine life, beautiful landscape.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Pawara

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Michael G
  • United States United States

AMAZING!!! The absolute best!

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Similan Explorer

  • 8.0 Very good
  • WAI KWAN L
  • Hong Kong Hong Kong

School of fishes for photo shooting, good place for underwater photography

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Manta Queen 7

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Martin C
  • Hong Kong Hong Kong

Amazing, no wonder why it's top 10 dive site of the world. We were disappointed not to see pelagic animals though, but that is just nature, and in no way the fault of the boat.

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Manta Queen 2

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Krystian T
  • Poland Poland

extraordinary, great visibility, saw: Blackfin Barracuda,Pickhandle Barracuda,Pharoah Cuttlefish,Big Potato Grouper,Big eye jacks, Cleaner Pipefish

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Pawara

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • HUIJEA L
  • South Korea South Korea

very awesome place. If I have a chance to diving only one in liveaboard, it is richeliue rock!

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Oktavia

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Filip S
  • Switzerland Switzerland

Absolutely stunning. Recommended 10/10

Diving Richelieu Rock in January on the Manta Queen 6

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Janine D
  • United States United States

Exciting, big current, but loads to look at. Fun. Good team work.

Diving Richelieu Rock in December on the Diva Andaman

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Bastien M
  • France France

Amazing! The preservation of the area is exceptional, so many fishes and organisms. Nemo's world, but better.

Diving Richelieu Rock in December on the Similan Explorer

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Hyeunjun P
  • South Korea South Korea

visuality was not good, but there are so many fishes.

Diving Richelieu Rock in December on the Hallelujah

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Martin R
  • Germany Germany

Despite not seeing a whaleshark, Richelieu Rock is a great dive site

Diving Richelieu Rock in October on the Pawara

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Nicolas M
  • France France

Really nice, incredible to see this amount of fish, with some really beautiful ones.

Diving Richelieu Rock in May on the Manta Queen 2

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Daniel N
  • Sweden Sweden

Absolutely fantastic diving.

Diving Richelieu Rock in May on the Manta Queen 1

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Ana M
  • Portugal Portugal

Amazing! So many fish and sea life! I felt I was inside a large aquarium! I would repeat divings there without ever getting tired.

Diving Richelieu Rock in November on the Manta Queen 3

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Guillaume L
  • France France

A spectacular underwater rock. Dived it 4 times and so much to see each time. From amazing pink and purple soft corals, great big fan corals, nudibranches, boxing mantis shrimp, giant moray eels, wide eyed moral eels, cuttlefish, a yellow seahorse, shoals of yellow snappers, blue fusiliers, trevalis, and some barracudas. Night dive is forbidden since a Barracuda attack a couple of years ago. Some current but generally gentle drifts.

Diving Richelieu Rock in November on the Thailand Aggressor

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Lisa M
  • United States United States

One of the best dives sites we have been to. Dove here three times on our trip and would have gladly done a few more!

Diving Richelieu Rock in October on the Hallelujah

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Michael S
  • United States United States

Fantastic. More to see than you can look at.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Similan Explorer

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Norbert D
  • Germany Germany

the dive site is really nice. the amount of fish is baffling and you are sure to see sea snakes and octopi. the current is an interesting challenge, but very manageable. go around the corners. there are forests down there!!

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Manta Queen 2

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Evan R
  • New Zealand New Zealand

Loved the diving at Richelieu rock and this was one of my favourites. Loved to see the big fans and the small nudibranches.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Sawasdee Fasai

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Sangwoo H
  • South Korea South Korea

Amazing - definitely one of the best dive sites I dove.

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Giamani

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Christopher T
  • United States United States

The best! The number and variety of fish takes your breath away.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Similan Explorer

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Yalck E
  • Netherlands Netherlands

So much to see! One of the best sites of the trip

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Manta Queen 3

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Eric W
  • Singapore Singapore

Richelieu Rock got fantastic marine life and coral garden. After going to Richelieu Rock, the other dive sites seems to pale in comparison!

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Manta Queen 6

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Thomas E
  • Sweden Sweden

this is how all reef dives should be, exceptional

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Thailand Aggressor

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Natalie R
  • New Zealand New Zealand

Best dive site on the liveaboard. Thousands of fish. Beautiful purple coral. Sea anenames with blue bases. Minimal current

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Similan Explorer

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • James C
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Fab dive site, loads of marine life

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Pawara

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Andreas F
  • Germany Germany

the absolute highlight of the trip, Richilieu is fantastic

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Similan Explorer

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Mark L
  • Canada Canada

This was the highlight of the 11 dives. A great location with a lot of marine life. Visibility was good for the first two dives, but unfortunately the seas were choppy the next morning so it was down to 8-10 meters. Mother nature.

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Manta Queen 2

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Rebecca H
  • United States United States

Beautiful dive site with incredible diversity. The purple coral was awesome. We saw a Napolean wrasse, lion fish, scorpion fish. Others on our boat saw a leopard shark, but we were not in the right place at the right time for that.

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Manta Queen 1

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Eugene S
  • Canada Canada

Best dive I think I ever did was to this dive site.

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Dolphin Queen

  • 6.8 Review score
  • Jeffrey T
  • Canada Canada

excellent in March, but crowded

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Similan Explorer

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Garry D
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

One of the best Dive Sites I have been too

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Sawasdee Fasai Liveaboard

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • JAYEON C
  • South Korea South Korea

Fantastic! we can see various species with beautiful undersea-landscape.

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the The Junk

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Yann B
  • France France

Exceptional. Great to do 4 dives on one smallish site. And not too many people / boats.

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the The Junk

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Pablo E
  • Chile Chile

Best spot i ve dived so far incredibleamount of life and corals

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Similan Explorer

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • THIERRY L
  • France France

Excellent! 1 full day on this dive site with 4 dives incluning a sunset dive

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the The Junk

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Maria Tereza C
  • Brazil Brazil

Very good. Fantastic place for diving.

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Hallelujah Liveaboard

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Maillard J
  • France France

Excellent dives with wonderful submarine landscape

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Dolphin Queen

  • 7.2 Good
  • Felipe C
  • Brazil Brazil

Very good dive site but with strong current

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Deep Andaman Queen

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Franco L
  • Italy Italy

Really interesting, lot of life

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Manta Queen 6

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Jun C
  • China China

Awesome! One of my favourite dive sites on the trip

Diving Richelieu Rock in January on the Diva Andaman

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Noel H
  • United States United States

Amazing! I'm very happy we got to do 3 dives there.

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Hallelujah

  • 7.6 Good
  • Christian S
  • Germany Germany

The best diving spot of the trip. Not so many divers and really many fishes.

Diving Richelieu Rock in January on the MV Pawara

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Chris G
  • Singapore Singapore

Good, no large fishes, but plenty of marine life

Diving Richelieu Rock in January on the Similan Explorer

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Ian T
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

One of the best places I've ever dive! Beats Maldives, Australia....

Diving Richelieu Rock in January on the Similan Explorer

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • SUZI D
  • Canada Canada

a pinnacle in the middle of nowhere was pretty amazing

Diving Richelieu Rock in January on the MV Pawara

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Shiou H
  • United States United States

The water was pretty muddy due to the recent storm. Nonetheless, the reefs were simply gorgeous. Did not get to see manta ray

Diving Richelieu Rock in January on the Thai Sea

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Todd H
  • United States United States

The highlight of our trip. Could have spent days there and every dive would have been great.

Diving Richelieu Rock in January on the MV DiveRACE Class E

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Christopher B
  • United States United States

Best dive site of the trip with endless schools of fish in every direction.

Diving Richelieu Rock in December on the Diva Andaman

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Elena L
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Of course, those white to lilac to purple soft corals are unforgettable. The family of six squids, with mammy and pappy in Valentine day mood.

Diving Richelieu Rock in December on the Thailand Aggressor

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • David G
  • United States United States

Amazing, could see so many fish and awesome coral.

Diving Richelieu Rock in December on the Dolphin Queen

  • 7.2 Good
  • Miranda M
  • Netherlands Netherlands

nice places with nice coral and rock formation visibility was not as good

Diving Richelieu Rock in November on the Deep Andaman Queen

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Karen C
  • Australia Australia

Amazing! A lot of fish & diversity in both corals & marine life.

Diving Richelieu Rock in November on the Deep Andaman Queen

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Marcel Fernando S
  • Germany Germany

This is really a wonderful dive-site.

Diving Richelieu Rock in November on the MV Similan Explorer

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Fredrik E
  • Norway Norway

Good diving. Strong current.

Diving Richelieu Rock in November on the Deep Andaman Queen

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Daniel L
  • Sweden Sweden

Nice dives with seahorses. Alot to see and nice taking pictures and filming. Got alot of nice pictures here.

Diving Richelieu Rock in May on the MV Pawara

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Thomas R
  • United States United States

This is where the fish were! Tons of schools of fish! Beautiful corals! Amazing

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the The Junk

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Gabor M
  • Germany Germany

Fantastic! Awesome! Incredible! Breathtaking! Marvellous! A Place full of Wonders, and the best Buddies You could ask for. Could have stayed there for Werks. ..

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the The Junk

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Sarah H
  • United States United States

visibility wasn't great, but the diversity and quantity of fish and other wildlife was incredible

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the Deep Andaman Queen

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Raymond C
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

The visibility was not so good - bit like a good day a Weymouth. Having said that the fish life was amazing and I have never seen so many giant trevally and barracuda at one spot - definitely fish soup

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the Deep Andaman Queen

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Martin A
  • Estonia Estonia

Visibility was poor, but still teeming with marine life.

Diving Richelieu Rock in April on the MV Similan Explorer

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Ursula C
  • Germany Germany

No visibility at all - so we didn't see much from the highlight of the trip

Diving Richelieu Rock in March on the The Junk

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • katrien D
  • Belgium Belgium

Fabulous, though too many other liveaboards were there also.

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Diva Andaman

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Anthony J
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

One dive; high swells and challenging entry and exit, but dive site great

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Diva Andaman

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Richard C
  • United States United States

Unfortunately it was poor visibility, but enjoyable.

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Deep Andaman Queen

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Natalie P
  • United States United States

Low visability, I will have to come back here.

Diving Richelieu Rock in February on the Deep Andaman Queen

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Farhan R
  • Australia Australia

One of the best dives I've ever done

Diving Richelieu Rock in January on the Deep Andaman Queen

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Katherine D
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

The Coral was amazing, the water was very clear, lots of different sea life

Diving Richelieu Rock in January on the Thai Sea

  • 7.2 Good
  • Daniela G
  • Portugal Portugal

Good, but visibility could have been better. Unfortunately, no whale sharks..

Diving Richelieu Rock in December on the MV DiveRACE Class E

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Lars H
  • Germany Germany

Strong current but the place looked good

Diving Richelieu Rock in December on the MV DiveRACE Class E

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Kal G
  • Israel Israel

excellent but very poor visibility

Diving Richelieu Rock in December on the Diva Andaman

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Joseph F
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Stunning coral and fish life - very busy, but to be expected

Diving Richelieu Rock in December on the Deep Andaman Queen