Photo: A striking karst formation amid the calm emerald seas of Ko Tarutao.

Ao Talo Wao historical trail

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From 1937 to 1948, Ko Tarutao was "seen as a hell in the deep sea," according to an information board at the entrance to the Ao Talo Wao historical trail. Of the roughly 3,000 prisoners interned here at the Talo Wao Prison, hundreds died of disease and starvation, and many more became feared pirates. Informative signs and dilapidated buildings provide a glimpse into this riveting chapter in Thai history.

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After losing a pedal and doing some on-the-spot repairs while on the 16-kilometre bike ride from park headquarters at Ao Phante, we were met by a rarely used pier that cuts to a striking karst formation amid the calm emerald sea. An old national park building sat abandoned nearby. Apart from a couple of other cyclists, the only people we saw were a pair of fishermen docked near the cliff.

Angry-looking guards and prisoners pop up along the trail. Photo taken in or around Ao Talo Wao historical trail, Ko Tarutao, Thailand by David Luekens.

Angry-looking guards and prisoners pop up along the trail. Photo: David Luekens

The trail begins with a wooden walkway spanning a mangrove swamp where a monitor lizard made a ku-plunk when it heard us. We also spied hornbills, macaques and tree snakes while cycling the brick-and-cement path that pierces into forest thick with strangling vines. The place has an eerily desolate feel, not least because of the many 70-year-old structures gradually being reclaimed by ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)

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Popular attractions in Ko Tarutao

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Ko Tarutao.

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A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Ko Tarutao.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Ko Tarutao.
 Read up on where to eat on Ko Tarutao.
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Where to next?

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