The History of Koh Tao
The Story of Koh Tao or Turtle Island is one of relatively recent times. Once Fishermen used to come here to shelter from storms or take a break from their weary travels.
Just before the turn of the century the King of Thailand paid a visit to Koh Tao & laid his mark upon Jor Por Rock on the southern end of Sairee Beach.
From the early 1930’s Koh Tao became a prisoner colony used to house political prisoners, until 1947 when the then Thai Prime Minister pardoned all the prisoners on the island.
So the island became abandoned again but only for a short time as later that same year a couple of Fishermen set sail on their boat for Koh Tao from Koh Phangan. They claimed for themselves a healthy chunk of land, Sairee Beach, and after bringing their families over began to cultivate the soil. Koh Tao’s first family had arrived!
They harvested coconuts, grew veggies & fished & gradually began to trade with their nearest neighbour Koh Phangan, and by so doing brought over more workers & steadily the Koh Tao population grew.
By the 80’s backpackers were beginning to come to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan & as the boats became bigger faster & safer they started coming to Koh Tao.
One of the first pioneers at this time was an Italian man who would bring divers from Koh Samui for an overnight diving safari to Koh Tao. He founded Red Rock, White Rock & Green Rock named them after the colors of the Italian flag, & became the first dive shop on Koh Tao.
Then one day in 1990 a tall Swede started his Open Water Dive Course. He liked it & did some more courses, and within the year had opened for himself the second dive shop on Koh Tao- Big Blue Diving. Koh Tao was now truly open for business.
In recent years the islands reputation as one of a quiet tropical paradise has spread. Word of its diverse marine life, & coral reefs made Koh Tao quickly become one of Thailands major diving destinations attracting beginners & professionals alike. And the local businesses have done well to cater to the ever-changing needs of the new arrivals in Koh Tao, catering for all budgets.