History of Koh Tao

History of Koh Tao

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Koh Tao, little more than 21 km, is located about 70 km east of the coastline between Suratthani and Chumphon, in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Tao translates as Turtle Island, because in the past the waters teemed with sea turtles. Nowadays they have moved on to new breeding grounds since travelers and tourists enjoy Koh Tao's beaches instead.

In the beginning, the island was uninhabited, and only the occasional fisherman from the neighbouring islands came by to seek shelter from a storm. 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 still worshipped today and should be treated with respect.

From 1933 on the island was used as a political prison because of it's distance from the mainland. In 1947, Khun A -Paiwong, Prime Minister at that time, pleaded and received a royal pardon for all prisoners on the island. Everybody was taken back to the mainland and the "Turtle" was abandoned once again. Not for long.

In the same year Khun Ueam and his twin brother Khun Oh reached Koh Tao from the neighbouring island Koh Phangan, At that time, crossing over with a traditional sailboat was long and dangerous.

It took more than 12 hours crossing over from Koh Phangan, which is just 45km away. Even though the island was still under royal patronage, it didn't keep these pioneers from claiming a good piece of land on today's Sairee Beach for themselves. Together with them came their families, and they began to cultivate and harvest the fertile soil.

The first generation of today's community had settled! They lived a very simple and tough life harvesting coconuts, fishing and growing vegetables, which were traded with Koh Phangan. Despite the many difficulties in reaching the island, the population grew steadily.

About 15 years ago, the first backpackers arrived from Koh Phangan. Rumours spread quickly about the islands unspoiled beauty, especially it's marine life and coral reefs . It soon became one of the major dive sites in Thailand and SE-Asia, attracting beginners and professionals alike. The island today, though still remaining an absolute paradise, caters to all tastes and budgets.

At the present time, Koh Tao evolved into a haven for divers, adventurers, travelers and holidaymakers from around the world. The island's unique blend of coral reefs, natural & unspoiled beauty, and relaxed life-style makes it a 'must-have-seen-it' place !


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