And yes, you can still snorkel with sharks, and perhaps the odd turtle as well, just check out our web site for all the local divecentres available.
In 1947, Khun A-Paiwong, Thailand's Prime Minister at the time, requested & received a royal pardon for the islands prisoners and thanks to a gracious act by His Majesty the King. They were repatriated and transported to Suratthani on the nearby mainland and the islandwas discarded once again. This was in the same year that the initial settlers started to claim a large piece of terrain on what is currently recognized as Sairee Beach. These were the two brothers Khun Ueam and Khun Oh who came to Ko Toa by a small boat from the next islandof KohPhangan.
The island was still under Royal Patronage in those days, but it didn't thwart these fortune seekers from staking their claim. The first generation of todays community started settling when they brought their families to Ko Toa and began to farm and yield the rich earth and natural resources on offer. Notwithstanding it still being under Royal Patronage, plots of land were claimed, and vacated for coconut plantations. You can still see lots of confirmation of the massive plantations all over the island.
Over the last twelve years Ko Tao has altered in many ways as it developed to become one of the foremost dive destinations in Thailand, bringing in all levels of divers and water lovers alike.
This was at the same time that the first settlers laid claim to a big portion of land on what is now known as Sairee Beach.
A culture shock to many, but generally the islandreacted with a passion to these new visitors, over the following months much change had taken place, new resorts, with more facilities, a new array of eating establishments offering different food from around the globe.
The name KohTaomeans Turtle Island; some say that the name is due to the islands shape which is meant to look like an upside down turtle whilst others maintain its from the days when the water around KohTaowere rich with turtles and the islandwas their breeding area.
Here they discovered something more then just a new island to explore and soon the back packer network was buzzing about the fantastic newly found island paradise of Koh Tao.
Mesmerised by the tropical beaches, the back of beyond aura, and of course the cheap living, back packers soon arrived in droves.