Koh Tao - Tao Island
So your first tentative steps on Koh Tao - Thailand are through the wonders of the internet. But what is Koh Tao really like when you get here? My site will give you a feeling for what is really quite a special place. It's no wonder so many people come for a holiday and end up staying! If you are interested to learn more about the way of life on the Turtle, speak to one of the expats on the island, after a couple of beers as incentive, they will be happy to entertain you with funny and weird stories, as well as share essential culture shock knowledge.
Koh Tao, little more than 21 km², is located about 70 km east of the coastline between Suratthani and Chumphon, in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Tao means Turtle Island, because in the past the waters in the area had been rich with sea turtles, nowadays they have mostly moved on to other breeding grounds. They lived a very simple and tough life harvesting coconuts, fishing and growing vegetables, which were also traded with Koh Pha-Ngan. Despite the difficulties in reaching the island, the population then grew steadily. In the eighties the first travelers discovered the island paradise and their special "backpacker-network" quickly made it widely known and a popular destination. As a consequence, bigger, faster and safer boats were used to allow easier access to Koh Tao.
During the past ten years the reputation of Turtle Island's natural beauty, especially its marine life and coral reefs, spread the world over and the number of paradise seekers increased rapidly. It soon became one of the major dive sites in Thailand, attracting beginners and professionals alike. The local businesses expanded immediately to catch up with the needs of the new clientèle. The island today, though still remaining an absolute paradise, caters for all tastes and budgets.
Turtle Rock - Koh Tao is unique in many ways and not just because it offers the best scuba diving in the Gulf of Thailand. Conveniently small, with a real international community, truly great cuisine at reasonable prices, fantastic night life, exciting activities and stunning vistas, Koh Tao really is full of surprises! No matter what you are looking for whilst on holiday or traveling you can probably find it on this delightful island.
Koh Tao island is located approximately 70 km east of the coastline between Suratthani and Chumporn in the Gulf of Thailand and is about 21 km2 in size - so small but not too small. From the days of being a prison, through to its current development, Turtle island has retained it's magic and charm, though it now caters for everyone's tastes, budgets and needs. It has so much to offer but hasn't lost what attracted people here in the first place and it's still a little piece of paradise for everyone to share and enjoy. Initially the island was not inhabited, there was only the occasional fisherman from the neighboring islands, looking for shelter in a storm or just taking a break before continuing his tiresome journey. On June 18, 1899, His Majesty the King Chulalongkorn (Rama V 1868-1910) visited Koh Tao and left as evidence his monogram on a huge boulder at Jor Por Ror Bay next to Sairee Beach. This place is worshiped even today and should be treated with respect.
From 1933 on the island was used as a political prison. In 1947, Khun A-Paiwong, prime minister at the time, pleaded and received a royal pardon for all prisoners on the island. Everybody was taken to the Suratthani shore and the "Turtle" was abandoned again. But not for long. In the same year Khun Ueam and his twin brother Khun Oh reached Koh Tao from the neighboring Koh Pha-Ngan by trying out their traditional sail boat, for that time a quite long and dangerous journey. Even though the island was still under royal patronage, it didn’t stop these pioneers claiming themselves a good piece of land on today's Sairee Beach. Having brought their families over, they began to cultivate and harvest the excellent soil. The first generation of today's community.
Island climate Koh Tao is very lucky due to its centralized gulf location. Besides a 6 week wet monsoon period starting round November into mid December, Koh Tao generally has a great tropical climate most of the year. The island does get hit occasionally with storms that are blown in from surrounding countries but these tend to blow themselves out within a day or so. In summer time the island does get really hot but most of the time the weather is perfect if slightly on the humid side.
Here you will find a selection of land based Koh Tao maps to help you find your way around the island as well as get your bearings whilst deciding where to stay and where to visit. Don't forget the island is only 21sqkm so nothing is actually that far away.
Long white beaches signifies the island Different people have different ideas of their perfect beach. For some the pebbles of Brighton are bliss, for others the wind swept sand dunes of south west France is a delight. Koh Tao beaches tend towards the populist view of paradise. Imagine fine white sand, under an azure sky, the clear warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand lapping at the beach. A line of coconut trees provide welcome shade from a strong sun. A beach bar built from the same trees and roofed with banana tree leaves serves beer cold enough to chill even the uptight. Sound good?
Dive sites The island boasts about 30 different dive sites all pretty close by, with the furthest away being Hin Bai (Sail rock). And don't forget that you just never know what surprises you may find beneath the surface around Turtle Island!