The Tarutao National Park was established as a Marine National Park in 1974.
Tarutao National Marine Park has 51 islands divided into two different groups. In the West, you can find the Adang-Rawi Group and in the East, the Tarutao Group. Tarutao National Marine Parks has three archipelagos: Adang, Klang, and Tarutao. This last one is the one that names the National Park and is a word that is derived from the original name of the island, Pulau Tertua (meaning “the island of old”).
The Marine National Park covers an area of 1490 km² and is located in the southern part of the Andaman Sea in Thailand. It belongs to the Satun Province.
In 1982 our Tarutao National Marine Park was declared as a part of the ASEAN Heritage Parks and Reserves. But this is not all, in 1990 was a well-deserved candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Unfortunately, the candidacy was rejected and Tarutao National Marine Park couldn’t be considered as a UNESCO National Park due to some “concerns around protection of river and forest”. Apparently, this concern involved areas with saltwater crocodiles, but it is believed that this population is extinct not only in the Tarutao National Park but in the whole of Thailand.
As a National Park in the Tarutao area, you could find many species of animals and invertebrates. Some to be named: mouse deer, hornbill, boar, langur, civet, king cobra, phyton, raptors. Also, the National Park has at least 100 species of birds.
While coming to visit the National Park area foreigners visitors should pay a 200 THB entrance fee (or 100 THB for children). Meanwhile, national Thai visitors should pay 40 THB (or 20 THB for children).
Tarutao Island Group is open all year but if you are planning to visit the Adang-Rawi group make sure you organize your trip between mid-November until mid-May as the rest of the time these islands are close for tourists.
Of course, Koh Lipe is the most known island where to go and visit the whole National Park area.
Koh Lipe is just one of the most beautiful islands you can find in Thailand. With white sandy beaches, crystal clear and calm waters and well-developed infrastructure is ideal for tourists that want to enjoy a really nice holiday in paradise.
Koh Lipe has many travel agencies, as well as hotels, bungalows, resorts, restaurants and diving centers, as Tarutao Divers.
If you are looking for some quiet place to stay or a more intimate relationship with nature, you may stay at Koh Tarutao or Koh Adang, but you need to arrange your accommodation online and in advance through the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservations (DNP) website. You also can go and rent a tent and a sleeping bag on arrival at the different campsites. For this, you are not gonna be able to book in advance.
Even though the Tarutao National Marine Park is well known for its beaches and well preserved coral reefs, there is a bit of dark history around the islands. Nothing to worry about in the present, but something that should be remembered to understand history.
Tarutao Island has been used to hold and isolates political prisoners, back in the late 1930s. This “island-prison” was established in 1936 and two years later, the first 500 prisoners arrived. Gradually, these numbers increased significantly arriving at up 3000 prisoners on the island.
During the Second World War, the island of the current National Park lost support from the mainland and this caused the death of many of the prisoners because of food shortage. With this situation going on, prisoners are guards join forces and together, trying to survive, started to raid the ships that were sailing around.
Around 130 ships were caught by the prisoners, who had killed all the people on board. This situation got to a final point when the British forces came to the rescue almost at the end of the world. During this time, and until the prison was closed, almost a third of the convicts were dead due to different reasons like malaria, starvation, and cruelty.
When the war was finished, many farmers and fishermen settle up on the island and the population increased to up 1000 villagers by 1973. After 1974, when the island became a National Park the population decreased enormously. Only 17 families stated on the islands.