Although from the surface seemingly insignificant, Richelieu Rock rates as one of the best places in the world for swimming with our gentle giant, the whale shark. Encounters with these fish -the largest of all fish- are extremely rare almost any place. For some reason, however, Richelieu Rock attracts them Barracuda regularly and is one of the best places in the world to dive with whale sharks in clear water.
Besides the appearance of the whale shark, Richelieu Rock offers lush soft corals, large schools of pelagic fish, as well as Frog Fish countless small organisms clinging to the rock. Octopus and cuttlefish are abundant. Finally, the ray shark and the bow mouth guitar shark, two very weird-looking animals, are seen regularly. If you are one of those divers who have seen it all, Richelieu Rock you’re going to love.
This dive site features an offshore underwater ridge and is considered to be one of the finest dives in the region. It has become famous as a reef to see larger animals such as rays, leopard sharks, nurse sharks, turtles, and especially whale sharks. Koh Tachai also boasts of one of the finest beaches in the Kingdom.
Koh Bon is located about 20 kilometers North of Koh Similan and features a 33 meter wall facing a small cove, and a step-down ridge that carries on to depths of over 50 meters. Leopard sharks are common on the flat areas of the ridge and on the sandy plane below the wall. Although the soft corals are not as lush as they are in the Similans, the colors are radically different and include shades of turquoise, yellow and blue besides the more common pinks and purples. Koh Bon is one of the better places in the Andaman Sea to see Manta rays.
The Similans Islands,
located about one hundred kilometers North-West of Phuket, are composed of nine granite islands washed by a clear blue tropical ocean and blessed with some of the world’s finest beaches. Similan come from Malay fisherman who named it "The Nine Islands" (Sembilan is "nine" in Malay). We designate the islands by name in Leopard Shark Thai and a number. The islands have achieved national park status and thus are fully protected under Thai law. The national Park Authority maintains their residence on two of the islands: Koh Similan (Island #8) the largest, and Koh Miang (Island #4) which lies mid-way through the chain.
Typically, the high season in the Similans is from October until May, but diving is possible all year-round. The water tends to be clearest in the summer and in the fall, but then again, the visibility is usually good in the Similan, averaging approximately 18-25 meters and at times exceeding 40 meters. There are well over 20 chartered dive sites in the Similan chain.
The Similan Islands host the most beautiful group of dive sites we have in Thailand and are one of the better areas for diving in the entire world. One of the most fantastic Oriental Sweetlips characteristics of the islands is that we have two entirely different types of environments in one destination.
The East coast, with its powdery coral beaches, features hard coral gardens which slope dramatically from the surface down to approximately 30-40 meters. Here, the most popular activity is drift diving along hard-coral gardens while watching the reef inhabitants go about their business. At several sites, large coral bommies covered with soft coral and sea fan rise dramatically from the bottom.
The West coast can offer faster paced, more exhilarating diving as currents swirl around the huge granite boulders-some larger than the grandest of houses. These smooth, rounded boulders form dramatic formations, holes and overhangs (swim-throughs). The drama of just looking up through the clear water at these huge rocks is gratification enough for some divers, as these are few places like this on earth. However, growing on these boulders are some of the most colorful soft corals imaginable, in many places so thick that the rock is no longer visible. In the larger passages or channels between the boulders, the often tightly bunched fans grow to a size sometime three meters across.
If you enjoy watching and photographing small fish, the Similans are unrivaled for the sheer numbers and variety of tropicals. We see whale sharks, while large cow tail rays and leopard sharks are reasonably common. We will also see white tip and black tip sharks, and over the years we have seen schools of pseudo orcas or false killer whales. Ribbon Eel Don’t expect big fish action every dive, enjoy the Similans for what they are famous for: wild, unspoiled beaches, magnificent coral growth, prolific fish life, crystalline blue water and sensational underwater rock formations.