Ko Tarutao

Lots of things to do

Photo of Ko Tarutao, , Ko Tarutao

What we say: 3.5 stars

The pier and park headquarters are at Ao Pante Malaka, and the Visitor's Centre here has a display about the island's infamous history, including old photos and some leftover relics from the prison. There's a collection of fossils that are also worth a look.

Scale Toe-Boo Cliff for an impressive view across the island and Andaman Sea. The trail is a relatively easy climb that leads under cavernous cliffs and up through dense canopy. It starts from behind the Visitor's Centre and takes about 20 minutes. Dusky langurs inhabit the area and can usually be seen if you're quiet. These dark-coloured primates have white rings around their eyes and expressive faces.

Crocodile Cave is no longer home to carnivorous reptiles, but is still interesting to explore. By kayak the trip to the Cave is relatively easy and picturesque, winding along Tarutao's inland brackish river. Exploring the mangroves along the river is also worth an hour or two. A longtail boat may also be chartered to the cave if you want to skip the kayak.

It's a somewhat hilly bike ride down to the more isolated beaches of Ao Molae and Ao Son. Ao Son, in particular, is an excellent place to enjoy some serious solitude in paradise. If you're lucky, you may also find sea turtles nesting here. Shuttle buses or motorbike guides can also make these trips if the hills are a bit too much to pedal.

Trails from Ao Son lead to Lu Du and Lo Po Waterfalls. Neither of these are all that impressive, but there are some good clear and cool water swimming holes near the waterfalls, and the trails to each are a worthwhile hike through the jungle, often running alongside a babbling brooke. The trails are not all that well maintained in places, and each jump back and forth over the stream several times, so be prepared to hop from rock to rock and most likely get your feet wet. The trail markers are a bit misleading at times, but if you stick close to the stream you'll always bump into the trail again.

If you have your own snorkelling equipment Ao Rusi has clearer water and hard coral. A longtail boat can be chartered for the trip and holds up to 10 people.

Finally, the former prison site of Ao Thalo Wow is 12 km southeast of Park Headquarters. There's an information centre there and a one-kilometre historical walking trail. Political prisoners were kept 12 km further south at Ao Thalo Udang. It's possible to hike to this bay, but the trail is rugged and getting lost in this part of the island could spell disaster, so the park recommends bringing a ranger along for the hike.

Last updated: 4th January, 2012

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