Ko Tarutao National Marine Park is made up of 51 islands which are scenically located in the Andaman Sea, off the coast of Satun in southern Thailand. There are two island groups found in this park: Tarutao and Adang-Rawi.

The islands are scattered across 70kms of ocean and the southern-most point of the park is actually located along the Malaysian border. There are seven islands which can be visited in the Tarutao/Adang-Rawi archipelagos, all of which boast dramatic scenery and impressive dive and snorkel sites.

However, these islands were not always impressive tourist spots. In the 1930s, the islands were used to hold prisoners and were notorious for housing pirates. There were prisons located on many of the islands, making escape virtually impossible. Today, the remnants of the prisons add historical charm to these beauty spots.

Outdoor sporting opportunities abound, with scuba diving and snorkeling top of the list. Hiking and sea kayaking come close second. There is virtually no development on any of the islands within the archipelago and the ones which are slightly developed all have strict rules about litter and the general maintenance of the island. For those interested in nature, wildlife abounds both in the sea, on land and in the air.

In briefWhat is it? A marine park in southern Thailand made up of 51 islands.When to go? Between November and March, the cool dry season. Many islands are closed during the rainy season.Nearest town? Hat Yai.Don’t miss: the island of Tarutao, home to a sea gypsy village, many remnants of old prisons and beautiful bays. Trivia: In Ko Tarutao’s days as a prison, it was the guards and prisoners who became the most feared pirates. This is because WWII forced all supplies to be cut off, leaving these residents effectively abandoned and having to fend for themselves.

Getting thereIt is possible to arrive at the marine park from Hat Yai by taking a ferry from Pak Bara pier. The length of journey depends on the destination although most people head to Koh Lipe (2 hours from the mainland) before making their way to other islands. Hat Yai has a busy airport serving flights to Bangkok as well as 12-hour bus links to the capital.

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