TAO - "The Rock"
Tao is one of S.E.Asia's most popular travellers' spots.
Yet just a few years ago, "Turtle
Island" was very, very different....
the 1930's, the Thai government realised the strategic
advantage of Koh Tao as a penal colony and started to
relocate a number of political prisoners from camps
on the west coast to a new facility built on the island.
From the island , surrounded for miles by ocean, there
was little or no chance of escape.
1944 with a change of government, after all prisoners
were freed and given an official pardon, the prison
camp was closed down. As "regular"
people started to arrive, three main settlements emerged
and to this day Haad Sairee, Ban Mae Haad and Chalok
Ban Kao are still the only main villages on the island.
neighbouring Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, Koh Tao remained
untouched by tourism for many years.
in the late 1980's the first Samui based dive operators
began running overnight liveaboard trips and were amazed
by what they saw....
clear waters boasting an amazing array of colour and
coral reefs alive with an incredible diversity of marine
life. Soon dive operations began re-locating to Koh
Tao realizing they had uncovered a wealth of untouched
20 years later, an increase in tourism and growth has
seen Koh Tao recognized one of the world's most beautiful
islands both above and below the water!