There are many dive sites across the globe that lay claim to the world’s best diving, and indeed, it is difficult to compare one to another when each offers an aquariumesque bounty of marine life. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t include Richelieu Rock on that esteemed list, located in the Andaman Sea approximately 125 miles northwest of Phuket, Thailand. Thailand is renown for its incredible biodiversity, and Richelieu Rock is one of the highlights of this amazing region. Introduced to divers as one of the premiere sites in the world by Jacques Cousteau, this dive site enjoys the protection of the Mu Koh Surin marine park, one of Thailand’s national parks.
Richelieu Rock itself is the main attraction here, as it is a solitary pinnacle of limestone that erupts from the seafloor at a depth of 50 meters and reaches to just beneath the surface of the warm Andaman Sea. Pelagic species of all sizes are regular customers here, including manta rays, whale sharks, barracuda, triggerfish, and snappers, just to name a few. But those who take joy in the little things will delight to see exotic species like ghost pipefish, cuttlefish, and a stunning array of colorful soft corals, sponges, and invertebrates. This horseshoe-shaped reef stands alone in the sea, unharmed by human activities on islands that would normally have a significant impact on the reef. For the pristine quality of the marine environment and biodiversity, Richelieu Rock should not be overlooked.
Image via Tim Sheerman-Chase