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  Tao
 
     Koh 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.