Koh Tao

History of Koh Tao

The beginnings of Koh Tao Island

Prior to 1943, Koh Tao was uninhabited. The first ‘pioneers’ was in 1947, twin brothers, Ta Euam and Ta Oh came to Koh Tao from Koh Samui. Later, they brought their families here and settled on the north of Sairee Beach. Six years later, others mostly from Koh Phangan arrived here to start a new life.

The First Pioneers

The history of Koh Tao begin on June 18, 1899, His Majesty King Chulalongkorn – Rama V (1853 – 1910) visited Koh Tao, and had his initials carved on a large boulder at Laem Jor Por Ror on the southern end of Sairee Beach. During the years of 1940, Koh Tao was used as a political prison.

One of the prisoners wrote :
“The only joy each day is watching the sun set to the sea. It is a spectacular scene. The waves are light purple with an indigo sky.”

In 1944, the prisoners were released and everyone returned back to the mainland leaving Koh Tao deserted once more.

They lived simply and sufficiently by fishing and cultivating the land for coconut plantations, rice paddies and orchards. At that time there was an abundance of turtles, so many in fact, that at certain times of the year, the beach became black.

thailand map with Koh Tao

Koh Tao the diving island

koh tao island diving

In the middle of 70’s, the first travellers came to dive and explore the undiscovered and pristine underwater world. In 1984, the first resort on Koh Tao, was established in Thian Og Bay. Since then, Koh Tao has changed from one of fisherman and gardeners, to a place of tourism which now offers the infrastructure, facilities and choices of activity to serve about 350,000 travellers each year. 

Discover our best places to dive in Koh Tao