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Ko Tarutao

Getting there and away


In high season, daily speedboats run between the mainland town of Pakbara and Ko Lipe, and some of these will stop at Ko Tarutao. Tickets can be booked from travel agents in either place.

From Pakbara, a speedboat departs at 11:00 and stops at Tarutao's Ao Phante pier 30 minutes later. From Ko Lipe, speedboats depart at 09:30 and 13:30 and take one hour. The cost is 450 baht to/from either destination. Additional boats may stop here, depending on demand.

On Tarutao, boats pick up for Pakbara at 10:30 and 14:30. The boat to Lipe picks up at 11:30. Rangers stationed at the pier call the boats in advance to ask them to stop at Tarutao and tell them how many passengers to expect, so you must inform them by 09:00 on the day you want to catch a boat.

Ko Tarutao closes in low season, from April 15 to November 15. At this time, you can charter a longtail boat in Pakbara (weather dependent) for around 3,000 baht roundtrip for a day, but no facilities will be open.

    Getting Around

    It's easy to get around Ao Phante and Ao Molae on foot, but getting from one to the other requires a four km walk if you don't feel like using the other means of transport. Expect a multi-hour walk if heading all the way from Ao Phante to Ao Son or Ao Talo Wao.

    Mountain bikes can be rented at the visitor centre in Ao Phante for 200 baht per day, and cycling seems to be the most popular way for travellers to cover the longer distances. They're not the cheapest bikes you can buy, but they're not the best either. Do check it thoroughly before setting off on a long ride -- a pedal fell off one of those that we rented. The bicycle supply is limited, so get there as early as possible to assert yourself.

    Roads wind up and down steep hills, making it a formidable haul by bicycle to Ao Son or Ao Talo Wao. Bring plenty of water and expect to have a sore behind if you're not used to cycling often. The rear brakes on our bike were jerky and could have caused a nasty accident going down some of the steep and slippery hills. We took it nice and slow, and recommend you do the same.

    Those who aren't keen on cycling can hop in one of the shared pick-up taxis that regularly run between Ao Molae and Ao Phante for 50 baht per person. In theory, these can be rented privately at 600 baht for a roundtrip to either Ao Talo Wao or Ao Son. However, a park official's reply to a group of three who were trying to arrange a taxi: "I'm not the driver and I don't know where he is." This was after they had been told that no more bicycles were available.

    Kayaks can also be rented at the visitor centre for the extortionately expensive rates of 200 baht for the first hour and 100 baht for every subsequent hour. If you feel like spending a full day kayaking, that'll be 1,000 baht!

    The other option is hiring a longtail boat next to the pier at Ao Phante. We were quoted 500 baht to Tham Charakae, 2,000 to Ao Son, 2,500 to Ao Talo Wao, 3,000 to Ao Talo Udang, and also 3,000 for a half-day snorkelling excursion.

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