Tao is a relatively large island about 70km off the coast of
Chumphon more or less in between Surathtanee and Chumphon. Koh
Tao has an interesting history. The name Koh Tao can be directly
translated into English as “the Island of Tortoises” suggesting
that the island used to be once home to an unusually large
number of Tortoises. During the reign of King Rama V of Thailand
(late nineteenth century), Koh Tao was used as a penal colony.
Fishermen later settled on the island and traded their catch
with the nearby island of Koh Pangan. Koh Tao was modestly
settled in slow streams until recently and had attracted people
to it largely by word of mouth.
Today, Koh Tao is regarded as being one
of the finest places to Dive as well as to learn Diving in
Thailand. The Dive-centers on the island are widely regarded
as keeping pretty high standards. Koh Tao is replete with
superior dive-sites. The area around Koh Ngang-Youn, for
instance, has the famous dive-spots of Hin Daeng and Hin
Keaw (underwater hills that have excellent underwater flora
and fauna along them). Another interesting Dive takes one
through a cave that leads right into a Japanese garden.
Some of the more popular dive-spots
around Koh Tao will now be briefly described. Ao Noung and
Ao Lurk are the specific points around which one would find
the best Scuba-diving spots at Koh Tao. Chumphon stone is
one of those spots where underwater rock-formations may be
found that extend as if in a line towards Chumphon. Green
stone lies right behind Koh Ngang-Youn and has a remarkable
green color throughout its surface; one needs to be a little
careful though of Titan Trigger Fish that are often found at
Green stone. Hin Kharw, also behind Koh Ngang-Youn, consists
of a cluster of underwater rocks where a plethora of sea
creatures can be found. Another interesting site is the
Unicorn Wreck which was sunk for the dubious purpose of
claiming insurance for the boat. However, she lies at a
depth of about 50 meters and is inaccessible to the ordinary
diver (this is considered as ‘technical dive’ depth).
The best time to travel to Koh Tao is during the
summer season which begins in February. Traveling to Koh Tao,
one follows an identical route with Chumphon the difference
being that a boat will need to be taken to get to the island
once one reaches either Port Thayang or Thamakham Noi.