The Tarutao National Marine Park was established in 1974 to protect some of Thailand's most incredible landscapes; namely the 51 rainforest-covered islands which house many of the resident wildlife, including dusky langurs, crab-eating macaques, mouse deer and wild pig.
The protection of the islands extends across the coral reefs and surrounding beaches, ensuring pristine conditions for visitors to the region. The UNESCO will be considering the Tarutao National Marine Park for inclusion in the near future, and huge steps are being made by local rangers and their management to earn their coveted stripes. Covering an area of 1490 sq km, this vibrant marine park extends northwards from the Malaysian border, and out to a distance of 70 km from the south-western point of mainland Thailand and the main headquarters is located on Koh Tarutao (the biggest, and most visited island in the park). Koh Lipe is considered to be one of the most important sites of the Tarutao/Adang-Rawi archipelagoes, and is one of the main gateways into the park
Development of Tarutao National Marine Park
Development in the area is strictly prohibited, although recent exceptions were made for the filming of 2002 US reality-TV show, Survivor, and its 2008 Filipino equivalent. Meanwhile, a series of loopholes has earned the small island of Koh Lipe an exemption from the protection laws offered to islands elsewhere within the park, allowing a moderate increase in development to contain the growing demand. Today, the Tarutao National Marine Park envelops many important habitats and environments, and aside from its Robinson Crusoe appeal, the park preserves many important cultural and historical sites.
A penal colony for Thailand's high-profile political prisoners was established on Koh Tarutao in the late thirties, and with the outbreak of WWII (and subsequent decline in support), an unusual alliance formed. Prisoners and guards banded together to launch daring raids on passing ships, striking fear into local sailors. The renegade pirates were eventually wiped out by the British, who restored order to the local seas by offering residence to local fishermen and farmers. With the formation of the Tarutao National Marine Park in 1972, many of these settlers were subsequently relocated, with many of them resettling on Koh Lipe.
The Tarutao National Marine Park continues to attract a wide variety of paradise seekers, with some of Thailand's most unspoiled environments within easy reaching distance of adventure travellers. If you're looking for the perfect castaway, or simply a day of island-hopping in the balmy tropics, then you'll find it all in the magnificent Tarutao National Marine Park.