ABOUT KOH TAO
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Initially the island was not inhabited, there was only the occasional fisherman from the neighboring islands, looking for shelter in a storm or just taking a break before continuing his journey. It would appear from old maps (1600-1850) and descriptions that this island was known by European cartographers and mariners as “Pulo Bardia”. The best example is a map by John Thornton dated 1685.Page 383 of ‘The Edinburgh Gazetteer, or Geographical Dictionary’ (1822) also mentions the island and provides a geographical position. In his book titled “Narrative of a residence at the capital of the Kingdom of Siam” by Frederick Arthur Neale (1852 p. 120) he describes the people and wildlife of Bardia. According to the account there were farms and even cows in village on the bay lying to the west side of the island – (probally Sairee?). The book includes a fanciful illustation of ‘Bardia’ showing huts and palm trees. On June 18, 1899 King Chulalongkorn visited Koh Tao and left as evidence his monogram on huge boulder at Jor Por Ror bay next to Sairee Beach. This place is still worshiped today.
The island is will known for scuba diving and snorkeling, and also offers some hiking. The most popular and commercial place for tourists is Sairee on the West coast, which has a white sandy beach of 1.7 km interrupted only by a few huge boulders and a scattering of medium budget resorts and restaurants. Chalok Baan Khao, to the south of the island is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative for those wishing to escape the crowds. A multitude of beautiful granite boulders, which nestle both in the forests and on the beaches of Koh Tao, attract a growing number of climbers who visit each year to enjoy to enjoy the adventurous aspect of their sport. Koh Tao is less developed than Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, but has become increasingly popular especially with the mid20’s backpacker crowd in search of relatively inexpensive scuba diving certification. For the past two years the demographics of the island has seen an age increase, with many of the visitors who first visited the island over ten years ago are now returning with their families. Diving conditions have improved dramatically in the past few years with the continuing education of locals by the dive community. The El Nino weather pattern of 1997 caused a warming of the waters which resulted in the loss of a great deal of the shallow corals near the island. Since then, the recovery has been swift and dramatic. Koh Tao now offers some of the best scuba diving in the Gulf of Thailand. And with help by island conservation groups the island’s environmental outlook is improving.Chumpon Pinnacle, a dive site to the west of the island has a reputation for divers in search of both whale sharks and bull sharks. However, because of warmer water temperatures over the last year a great number of bull sharks have migrated to cooler waters.
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