Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan
History of Koh Tao - From Prison to a Diver's Paradise
It was supposedly discovered by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) 1868-1910, who traveled around Koh Phangan and up to Koh Tao, writing his name in the form of etchings with gold leaf.
Around 1930 Koh Tao was used as a political prison, Koh Tao has evolved into a paradise for travellers, divers and backpackers from all around the world. Koh Tao's distance from the mainland, the island is 85 km from Chumphon province and 120 km from Surat Thani, kept prisoners from escaping.
In 1944, Prime Minister Khun A-Paiwong, pleaded royal pardon for all
prisoners on the island and three years later all were released. At this time
the journey was dangerous and long, but these early settlers had to spend more
than 12 hours crossing over on sailboats from Koh
Phangan Island, even it was just 45 km away. It's hard to believe that only
some forty years ago pirates were still seen in these waters. It was around
that time too that Thai farmers came to the island from Koh Phangan and Chumphon
to planted the first Coconut Trees. Coconut farming soon flourished into a local
economy and a small marketplace formed
About 15 years ago, the first backpackers turned up on the island. Words about its unspoiled beauty , many beaches and bays as well as long stretches of coral reefs that surrounding the island - are passed on from one tourist to another. An eco-tourism economy spawned and with it's constant demand the scuba business grew and the first bungalows were built. The 1990's brought more growth to Koh Tao, and the first roads were paved. Koh Tao has no monster discos like Koh Samui to offer, but for parties, there is always nearby Koh Phangan.
Since the main attraction is diving - the beaches remain tranquil and uncrowded while facilities, food and accommodation have greatly improved since the early days of turism. Today faster, more efficient ferries providing better access to the paradise island. The basic bungalows of the past have now been supplemented by new resorts with 24 hour air-conditioning and better facilities. The island, though, still remains a beautiful and unspoilt paradise.
You may not be a prisoner here, but you can still escape the trappings of society
and simply chill out on an isolated beach and giving thanks to the perfect existence
that beholds you. The irony of the historic prison camp here is that on these
same beaches today people are paying to be temporarily deserted.