KOH TAO TRANSLATES AS “TURTLE ISLAND” - SO NAMED BECAUSE OF ITS SHAPE AND the fact that THERE WERE MANy TURTLES LIVING IN THE WATERS IN YEARS GONE BY.
From 1933 to 1947 Koh Tao was used to jail political prisoners. Many were transferred from Koh Tarutao to Koh Tao by reason of its lonely location in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand.
The community in Koh Tao grew as settlers from Koh Samui and Koh Phangan migrated here after 1947 and began cultivating the land. They lived a simple and tough existence harvesting coconuts, fishing and growing vegetables. Despite these difficulties the population grew steadily.
In the 80s the first backpackers discovered Koh Tao and the island became widely known as a tropical paradise and popular tourist destination. With its tropical waters and abundant marine life, Koh Tao began to develop into one of the top scuba diving locations in South East Asia.