It seems wierd that such a tourist paradise should have been originally setup as a prison.
Strange, but true, from 1933 until 1947 the islandhoused political prisoners. Being located approximately 65 km from the mainland meant it was hard to escape from! Alcatraz...piece of cake.
And yes, you can still snorkel with sharks, and perhaps the odd turtle as well, just check out our web site for all the local dive shops available.
Around 1947, Khun A-Paiwong, Thailand's Prime Minister at the time, requested & got a royal pardon for the islands political prisoners and thanks to a gracious act by His Majesty the King. They were repatriated and transported to Suratthani on the nearby mainland and the island was abandoned once more. This was the same year that the initial people started to claim a big part of terrain on what is nowadays identified as Sai Ree Beach. These were the two brothers Khun Ueam and Khun Oh who reached Ko Toa by a boat from the neighbouring island of Ko Phangan.
Immediately following the horrible events of the December 2004 Tsunami, the type of visitors coming to KohTaohave changed, previously it had been a Mecca for backpackers, year out students along their way Chiang Mai and beyond.
Ko Tao is little; 20 square kilometer and fifty percent of that too steep to get to.
Occasionally progress can be a wonderful thing, it's a good thing Ko Tao has kept its relaxed atmosphere, ]it is,it's] still nigh on impossible to find a crowded beach.
From the days of being a prison camp, through to its current development, Turtle islandhas retained it's charm, though it now caters for everyones requirments and budgets.