Koh Tarutao is regarded as a mystical island by the local people (the name means in Malay "mystery"). Just as the neighboring Malaysian island of Langkawi, it should have been cursed by a bewitched princess, and was lost and not accessible for centuries. In 1974 Koh Tarutao Marine National Park with its 51 islands and the surface area of 1490 square kilometers today is the largest marine park in Southeast Asia. More than 70% of the islands are covered with rainforest and mangroves, more than a hundred species of birds live in these forests, and the submarine biodiversity is among the largest in Thailand. In 1982, Koh Tarutao Marine National Park became also recorded in the list of protected areas in Asia.
From the park headquarters and the pier at the northwestern bay of Phante Malacca, two paved roads lead along the west coast to Ao Son and through the island into the deep south to Ao Talo Udang. Since there are no private cars, you have to rent a driver or do the trip on your own with rented bicycles. Worthwhile goals are, first, the two prison sites in the Ao Talo Udang and 8 miles north at Ao Talo Wao, which are connected with the old road built by the convicts. On the long sandy beaches of the west coast you can camp and dream your days in absolute silence and solitude. Tents can be rented a the headquarter. Bungalows are available for rent at the Son bay and the Jak bay, and of course at the beach near to the pier. From Ao Son ranger station there are jungle pathways leading to the two most beautiful waterfalls, the Lu Du and the Talo Po waterfall. However, both are are quite dry and not very spectecular from January to April due to the lack of water
Photo by Hadee Romin
For true lovers of nature and solitude, Koh Tarutao offers a delightful opportunity to spend several days alone on the beaches or explore the interior island and the forests by mountain bikes. Also worthwhile, kayaking along the coast and the Phante Malacca river into the mangrove area of the northern Tarutao. Till one reaches the crocodile cave with its impressiv stalagnits and stalactites.
Those, who only briefly visit Koh Tarutao, should at least take the half an hour climbing trip to the lookout point of Toeboo. From there, some 50m above the park headquarters, a fantastic view over the northern coastline and most of the islands of the Tarutao Marine Park can be enjoyed, especially in clear weather conditions. On the short trip up and down the forest hill, you will very likely meet some macaques or beautyful island birds. Anyone who spend a night at the park headquarters, should make the trip before sunset and enjoy the marine island scenery with the setting sun.