Rent a kayak or hire a longtail boat to cruise along a mangrove-lined canal or venture to some of Tarutao’s more distant bays and islets.
The most popular destination is Tham Chorakae, or Crocodile Cave, found a couple of kilometres down the canal running east from the pier in Ao Phante. A sturdy walkway leads into the medium-size cavern with impressive limestone walls, or you can paddle in by kayak at high tide—just don’t forget to bring a torch. Along the way you’ll pass a thick mangrove forest and a rock formation resembling a giant tortoise. You won’t have to worry about saltwater crocodiles, which vanished from the area decades ago.
Tham Chorakae is easy to find on your own thanks to a small concrete pier near the entrance. You can rent a kayak at the pier in Ao Phante for 200 baht per hour or 500 baht for a full day (kayaks can also be rented at Ao Molae and Ao Son). Expect to pay 500 baht, round trip, for a longtail boat to Tham Chorakae.
If you’re after a longer adventure, approach the longtail boat drivers who hang out in front of the shop next to the pier at Ao Phante. A trip to the old prison site and historical trail at Ao Talo Wao will run you 2,500 baht round trip, while a cruise to the old Talo Udang political prison at Tarutao’s far southern tip costs at least 3,000 baht and will take several hours.
A half-day of snorkelling around the hard coral at Ao Rusi and a string of islets off the east coast also fetches 3,000 baht, though you may find the underwater scenery disappointing compared to Ko Adang or Ko Kradan, for example. If hitting Talo Wao or Talo Udang, you could ask to pay extra for a couple of snorkelling stops along the way.
A better option for dazzling seascapes is Ko Khai, a tiny uninhabited island with a natural rock arch standing over a powdery white-sand beach around 15 kilometres west of Tarutao. The name means “Egg Island” after the sea turtles that occasionally nest there. Expect to pay around 4,000 baht for a day trip from Ao Phante, and also note that the Ploy Siam speedboat running from Pakbara to Tarutao to Lipe may make a brief stop at Ko Khai.
If you’ll be heading to Lipe after Tarutao, we suggest saving your money for a boat trip around the Adang archipelago, which offers far more impressive snorkelling sites, better beaches and some hiking opportunities.
By David Luekens.
Last updated on 21st April, 2017.
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