Ao Phante Melaka - Pier and visitor centre - Koh Tarutao
The Marine Park Visitor Centre offers a wealth of information about the facilities, history and activities on Koh Tarutao.
The Visitor Centre is located at the end of the pier. Here you can grab a map, rent a bike or even arrange your accommodation. Koh Tarutao is part of the National Park, so you must pay an entrance fee at the Visitor Centre. The fee goes towards preserving this beautiful place and all the islands that comprise the National Park.
Visit the museum next door to learn about the island’s history, topography and ecology.
Basic accommodation in the form of tents and fan-cooled rooms are the only options on Koh Tarutao. Electricity from solar panels gets switched on only from 18:00 to 06:00, there’s no WiFi and the basic restaurants close at 20:00.
Monitor lizards, sea eagles, tree pythons, crab-eating macaques and a whole host of other land and marine life call Koh Tarutao home. Turtles regularly come to lay eggs at Ao Son, and over 100 varieties of bird have been spotted.
Long abandoned domestic cattle have adapted to the wild and are increasing in numbers.
Tarutao National Park
Established as a marine national park in 1974, Tarutao National Park covers more than 51 islands over a 1490 km2 area. Islands include Koh Tarutao, Koh Adang, Koh Rawi, Koh Lipe, and Koh Lek, and a host of smaller islands scattered off the east coast of Koh. The southern boundary of the national park meets the Thai-Malaysian border – with the Malaysian island of Langkawi only 5 kilometres away.
The park is divided into two groups; Tarutao Group to the east and Adang-Rawi Group to the west. There are three archipelagos in the park; Tarutao, Klang and Adang.
History of Koh Tarutao
Authorities considered Koh Tarutao a good place to house political prisoners due to its large crocodile population, treacherous seas and distance from the mainland. Around 3,000 prisoners were held here by the early 1940’s, including Sittiporn Gridagon, the son of then-exiled King Rama VII. Food and medical supplies ran dry during World War II, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of prisoners. Surviving prisoners and guards joined forces to become pirates, wreaking havoc in the Strait of Malacca until British intervention in 1951.
Small farming and fishing families inhabited the island after the war, and by 1973 there were around 1000 villagers living mostly at Hak Bay. In 1974 Koh Tarutao was given National Park Status. Most villagers moved, leaving behind domestic cattle that are occasionally seen roaming the island.