Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ko Tarutao เกาะตะรุเตา - the unspoilt island,
where just the nature entertains you, prisoners were kept and pirates emerged from

See the locations on Koh Tarutao เกาะตะรุเตา Google Map by #treasuresofthailand

Picture by Argenberg

Picture by Argenberg

"As our high-speed boat bound for the tourist enclave Koh Lipe approached Koh Tarutao, I think I literally gasped. We sped past deserted beaches, stretches of intact mangrove, karst cliffs and a blanket of green jungle spreading upwards towards a beautiful chain of mountains. For the first ten minutes, there was not a building in sight", notes And he adds: "I think the vast majority of the people onboard would have hated Koh Tarutao. Tarutao is not for those who need to be entertained, it’s for those who excel at entertaining themselves."

Koh Tarutao, the largest island of Tarutao National Marine Park อุทยานแห่งชาติทางทะเลตะรุเตา, with its several peaks stretching up to 700 m high, covered by rainforest, is still a heaven for wildlife, for example wild pigs, monkeys, water-buffalos, turtles, hornbills, palm civets, but also pythons and kiong cobras. On the beach you discover more than 200 types of shells, unter the water five types of corals, Brain Corals, Staho's Horn Corals, Leaf Corals, mushroom Corals, and Soft Corals. "It's not the optimal place for snorkelling since the water is murky compared to other Andaman islands", adds, "but for most, the clean and expansive whitesand beaches, diverse wildlife, waterfalls, caves, hiking and views more than compensate". The western coast offers nestling sites for turtles. see the Photogallery by larsonek.

Picture by Argenberg
Langur on Ko Tarutao

The National Park on Ko Tarutao is open only from November 15 to May 15 each year, and visiting during the off-season is prohibited. There is a admission charge upon arrival of 200 baht for foreigners and 40 baht for Thai citizens.

With the ferry from Pak Nam, where the Ko Tarutao Park Visitor Centre welcomes you, you arrive at Ao Phante Malaka อ่าวพันเตมะละกา:, where you find bungalows, a visitor center, a restaurant, a small shop for supplies and staff accommodation (but no ATM) and a camping site - and of course 2 km long beach with white smoth sand. Along the beach pine trees give shadow. The rangers speak good English and can show you pictures of accommodations and sights around the island and rent out mountain bikes and kayaks or arrange longtail boats, shuttles and guides. The bungalows only have five hours of electricity per day. There is no ATM on the island (the closest is in Pak Bara or Ko Lipe). Pa To Nu Beach is located behind the Forest and Marine National Park Office. In the morning you can hike up to Pha Toe Bo Viewpoint จุดชมวิวผาโต๊ะบู on a cliff just behind the camp for sunrise (around 20 minutes 60 metres above sea). It offers a panoramic view of the entire island and Koh Bulon, Koh Klang, Koh Khai, Koh Adang, Koh Rawi and Koh Petra.

Picture by Mathieuc
Look towards the National Park Headquarter at Pante Malacca Bay
See also picture by federicogosende.

Picture by Mathieuc
Bungalows in the National Park

From Ao Phante Malaka you follow by longtailboat a Mangrove lined khlong to Charakae Cave ถ้ำจระเข้ (Crocodile Cave, Tham Jorakae): The cave is filled with brackish water and extends several kilometers until it ends near Jak Bay, a walkway leads a short way into the cave, bring with you a flashlight. To arrange a boat trip, contact the information office. The tour has to be done at low tide to safely get in and out of the cave, where you see stalactites, stalagmites and more stoneformations.

Picture by Syeefa Jay
Crocodile Cave

Ao Jak อ่าวจาก (Jak Bay): See picture by federicogosende. This is a small bay connected to Phante Malaka Bay with white sand beach.

With a taxi you can get to Ao Molae อ่าวเมาะและ (Molae Bay).

Picture by Dan Ševčík
Ao Molae Beach
See also picture by soobee.
Here you find a white sand cove with just nine bungalows (see picture by DvayTW and Alain Sohet), a restaurant and coconut trees.

A path leads from Ao Molae to Ao Son Bay. It begins to climb past wild banana trees and tall dipterocarps. Near Son Bay, the path crosses two small streams, then ends at the coast.

Ao Son อ่าวสน (Son Bay): You can camp on the 3 km long and 200m wide white sand beach. Tents, food and beverages are available. Or you can walk to Lu Du น้ำตกลูดู (1.5 hours) or Lo Po น้ำตกโละโป๊ะ(2.5 hours) waterfalls. The beach is an important area for sea turtle nesting (from November to March). The Lo Po Waterfall trail starts about 1 1/2 kilometres south down the beach. It was originally constructed in April 1990 by Peace Corps volunteers. The trail passes through Beach Forest and Evergreen Rainforest. Trail markers and stone cairns for stream crossings show you the way. At the bottom of the waterfall there is a pool to bathe in. The distance from Ranger Base is 6 km. Lu Du Waterfall provides the water for the Ranger base at the north end of the beach. The trail to Lu Du Waterfall starts 500 m from the Ranger Base, along the path leading back towards Ao Pante. Look for the signpost on your right. From here you walk in 1 1/2 hours to the waterfall.

Picture by Syeefa Jay
Ao Son Beach

Ao Makham อ่าวมะขาม (Makham Bay): Ranger Station 3 is located at the bottom of the freshwater stream. In the non-monsoon season fishermen - mostly Muslim - keep temporary shelters here. There is no trail between Son Bay and Makham Bay, you go here by boat.

Ao Talo Udang อ่าวตะโละอุดัง(Talo Udang Bay): A historic place looking out towards Langkawi Island (Malaysia), which is only 8 km away. Here used to be a colony for prisoners. Between 1938 and 1948 more than 3000 Thai criminals and political prisoners were held here, including Sittiporn Gridagon, the son of Rama VII. During World War II they got not enough food and medical supplies from the mainland and many prisoners died from malaria. Those who survived, prisoners as well as guards, became pirates in the Strait of Malacca. In 1944 they were suppressed by British troops. Today you find here ranger station 2 and some traces of the old days. A 12 km long street built by the prisoners connects Ao Talo Udang to Ao Talo Wao, 4 to 5 hours to walk. The book “Pirates of Tarutao” by Paul Adirex is based on this story, and the real name of the author is Pongpol Adireksarn, who used to be Minister of Education in Thailand.

Ao Talo Wao อ่าว ตะ โละ วาว (Talo Wao Bay): This was the second site of the prison (see picture by ritterheinrich). Today you see only a dune, ruined buildings and the funeral for 700 prisoners. On the Homepage of Tarutao National Park you can read more about the history.
The coast is rocky here with limestone rocks rising from the sea. When first reaching the eastern coast by road, you will see the old ranger station, which is still used by the Talo Wao staff. The road continues another kilometer to the ranger station 1 on the hill, overlooking the long pier next to a rock outcropping. In the monsoon season, fishing boats congregate in this sheltered bay.
The road from Pante bay to Talo Wao bay (12 km, walking time 3 hours) is flat and passes through old agricultural land, rubber trees and orchards (see picture by ritterheinrich). For the last 4 km it climbs through rain forest and tall trees.

Picture by Argenberg
Pier at Talo Wao

Ao Lue See (Lue See Bay) It’s a small bay with a cave and good for snorkelling diving.

Read more:
Prisoners, pirates and reality-show contestants have all washed up on Thailand's Koh Tarutao. James Palmer discovers why it's the perfect hideaway by
Tranquilo Tarutao by Em & Trev
Photo essay: Majestic Ko Tarutao by David Luekens
Koh Tarutao Penal Colony Timeline on
Year End Trip - Koh Tarutao (The Final Leg) by Dian Shan.
Ko Tarutao by

From its eastern side the island of Ko Tarutao is encircled by over 10 smaller offshore islands and limestone karst islets, such as Ko Sing, Ko Kaman, Ko Ko Lo, Ko Klang, Ko Pulao Na, Ko Daeng, Ko Laen, Ko Lek, and others.

How to get to Ko Tarutao

From Pak Bara you can take a ferry: Ferry Times. The ferry services running from Pak Bara to Ko Tarutao are speedboats going to Ko Lipe. Various companies are selling tickets in Pak Bara for around 300 Baht one-way and 650 Baht return. This takes about 1 hour. It is possible to buy a ticket to Ko Lipe and stop a few days at Ko Tarutao. The evening before leaving to KoLipe you contact the park officer in Ko Tarutao. Schedule for long-tail boat from the Pakbara Pier to Ko Tarutao.

How to stay on Ko Tarutao

You choose between camping in a tent and staying in bungalows offered by the National Park. For details contact the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Flora at Tel. 0 2562 0760, or the Visitor Service Centre of the Tarutao National Park at the Pak Bara Pier in Tambon Pak Nam, at Tel. 0 7478 3485, or the Tarutao National Park Ranger Station To To 1 (Ao Phante Melaka) on the island, at Tel. 0 7472 9002 – 3.

Where to anchor at Ko Tarutao


Discover nearby islands:
Koh Lipe เกาะหลีเป๊ะ: From an unknown island to a tourist hotspot

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