Ko Tarutao Island, Thailand

Those who visit Thailand, especially the first timers, will most likely gravitate towards the main tourist spots such as Bangkok and Phuket. The TAT, the tourism bureau of Thailand, are actively promoting all kinds of different tours and itineraries to try an highlight those hidden gems in Thailand that often fall beneath the radar of the prospective visitor. One such place they are enthusiastically pushing at the minute is Ko Tarutao Island, and those who make the effort to visit are well rewarded.

To get to the Island you have to pass through Phuket, so you get the chance to visit there too. You take the Phuket to Satun bus and alight at Pak Bara Pier. From here, you catch a ferry and take a one hour ride to Ko Tarutao. There are a total of 51 islands in the Tarutao Archipelago and Ko island houses the GQ of the Tarutao National Marine Park. The only developments on Ko Tarutao are the offices and a few bungalows for visitors built in a cluster around them.

This island has remained virtually untouched since WWII, when it acted as an infamous prison for political dissidents and criminals. That prison has long since been reclaimed by the jungle, and is now home to birds, monkeys, vines and numerous flowering trees. There are park rangers who are more than happy to answer any questions regarding other denizens you may come across.

Miles of deserted beaches of silver sand await the visitor, and there are excellent opportunities to take part in scuba diving or snorkelling. The indigenous Chao Ley people maintain a strong presence on the islands, but the majority of tourist facilities, such as the boats you can hire, are managed by private companies whose headquarters are on the mainland. This is a true paradise of nature, and anyone who wants to get up close and personal with the best mother nature has to offer should take the trip to Ko Tarutao Island.