little more than 21 km^(2), is located about
70 km east of the coastline between Suratthani
and Chumphon, in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh
Tao means Turtle Island, because in the
past the waters in the area had been rich
with sea turtles, nowadays they have mostly
moved on to other breeding grounds.
the island was not inhabited, there was
only the occasional fisherman from the neighbouring
islands, looking for shelter in a storm
or just taking a break before continuing
his tiresome journey.
1933 the island was used as a political
prison. In 1947, Khun A-Paiwong, prime minister
at the time, pleaded and received a royal
pardon for all prisoners on the island.
Everybody was taken to the Suratthani shore
and the "Turtle" was abandoned
again. But not for long. In the same year
Khun Ueam and his twin brother Khun Oh reached
Koh Tao from the neighbouring Koh Phangan
by trying out their traditional sail boat,
for that time a quite long and dangerous
journey. Even though the island was still
under royal patronage, it didn't stop these
pioneers claiming themselves a good piece
of land on today's Sairee Beach. Having
brought their families over, they began
to cultivate and harvest the excellent soil.
The first generation of today's community
lived a very simple and tough life harvesting
coconuts, fishing and growing vegetables,
which were also traded with Koh Phangan.
Despite the difficulties in reaching the
island, the population then grew steadily.