Tarutao National Park

Coordinates: 6°35′43″N 99°38′41″E / 6.59528°N 99.64472°E / 6.59528; 99.64472
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Tarutao National Park
LocationSatun Province, Thailand
Nearest citySatun
Coordinates6°35′43″N 99°38′41″E / 6.59528°N 99.64472°E / 6.59528; 99.64472
Area1,490 km2 (580 sq mi)
Established19 April 1974
Visitors238,409 (in 2019)
Governing bodyDepartment of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP)

Tarutao National Park (Thai: อุทยานแห่งชาติตะรุเตา) consists of 51 islands in the Strait of Malacca, off the coast of Satun Province of southern Thailand.[1] The Tarutao National Park consists of two island groups: Tarutao (Thai: หมู่เกาะตะรุเตา, Thai pronunciation: [mùː kɔ̀ʔ tàʔ.rúʔ.taw] or [ta.ru.taw]) and Adang-Rawi (Thai: หมู่เกาะอาดัง-ราวี, Thai pronunciation: [mùː kɔ̀ʔ ʔaːdaŋ raːwiː]), which are scattered from 20 to 70 kilometres' distance from the south-westernmost point of mainland Thailand. The park covers an area of 931,250 rai ~ 1,490 square kilometres (580 sq mi)[2] of which 1,260 square kilometres (490 sq mi) ocean and 230 square kilometres (89 sq mi) island. The southernmost end of the park lies on the border with Malaysia, just north of Langkawi. Tarutao became Thailand's second marine national park on 19 April 1974. The coastal Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park had been designated in 1966.

The name "tarutao" is a Thai corruption of its original Malay name, "pulau tertua", "old, mysterious, and primitive island."[1]

Ko Tarutao was the setting for Survivor: Thailand, the 2002 season for the U.S. reality television series, Survivor.

Main (larger) islands[edit]

There are essentially nine islands of note in the Tarutao/Adang-Rawi archipelagos:

  • Tarutao Archipelago (approximately 30 km off the Thai coast)
  • Ko Tarutao (Thai: เกาะตะรุเตา) – The largest of the islands, Ko Tarutao is 26.5 km long, and 11 km wide. The highest point is over 700 m. Forest covers over 70% of the island.
  • Klang Archipelago (approximately 38 km off the Thai coast)
  • Ko Klang (Thai: เกาะกลาง), Ko Khai (Thai: เกาะไข), Ko Ta-Nga (Thai: เกาะตางาห์)
  • The Adang/Rawi group of islands (approximately 50 km west of Tarutao)
  • Ko Adang (Thai: เกาะอาดัง), Ko Rawi (Thai: เกาะราวี), Ko Lipe (Thai: เกาะหลีเป๊ะ), Ko Butang (also written as Tong or Dong; Thai: เกาะดง), Ko Lek (Thai: เกาะเหล็ก)
  • In the Adang Archipelago, the small (4 km2) island of Lipe is the most important. With water available year-round, it is the home of the largest permanent settlement, of approximately 800, and the gateway for boat transportation in and out of the Adang group.


The park was established in 1974. In 1982, it was listed as one of the original ASEAN Heritage Parks. It was also submitted to UNESCO for inclusion as a World Heritage Site in 1990, but its listing was deferred at the fifteenth session of the World Heritage Committee in 1991. UNESCO requested stronger management of the area.[3] The rivers and swamps of Tarutao Island were the last known refuge for the saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, within Thailand. The species is now extinct in the area.

The oldest surviving eyewitness description of the island dates from December 1606 and January 1607 and is contained in the travelogue of the Dutch East India Company Admiral Cornelis Matelief de Jonge.[4] In the late-1930s the island was used as a penal colony for Thai political prisoners.[5] During World War II, when support from the mainland was cut off, the guards and prisoners banded together and raided ships sailing through the waters near the island. The raids were masterminded by an American plantation owner who blamed the war for the loss of his fortune. He was assisted by two British non-commissioned officers who were on the run for murder and who ironically landed on Tarutao to sit out the war. They sank 130 ships, always killing everyone on board. After the pirates of Tarutao were eradicated by British forces at the end of the war, fishermen and farmers took up residence on the island.[1]


  • Son Bay (Ao Son) is the only bay on the west side of Tarutao National Park and is known as a place where turtles come to lay their eggs. Its longest beach is about 3 km.
  • Luu Doo Waterfall on Son Bay is the only waterfall in Tarutao National Park. Underwater it is full of rock formations.
  • Pantaemaraka Gulf has many pine trees and a clean white beach. Pantaemaraka Gulf is becoming a popular tourist attraction.
  • Crocodile Cave is 300 metres deep. Tourists going to Crocodile Cave must go by long-tail boat (15 minutes) from Pantaemaraka Gulf and on the way to Crocodile Cave they can see mangrove forest.


In November 2018, the Department of Natural Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation banned the use of plastic and Styrofoam containers in Tarutao Islands National Park, according to Assistant Park Director Kittipong Sanui.[6]

Additional images[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Tarutao National Park". Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. Archived from the original on January 10, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  2. ^ "ข้อมูลพื้นที่อุทยานแห่งชาติ ที่ประกาศในราชกิจจานุบกษา 133 แห่ง" [National Park Area Information published in the 133 Government Gazettes]. Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (in Thai). December 2020. Retrieved November 1, 2022, no 8{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  3. ^ "Report of the Rapporteur". Paris: UNESCO, Bureau of the World Heritage Committee. July 10, 1991. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  4. ^ Peter Borschberg (2015). Journal, Memorials and Letters of Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge. Security, Diplomacy and Commerce in 17th-Century Southeast Asia. Singapore: NUS Press. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  5. ^ Duncan Stearn (January 17–23, 2003). "A Slice of Thai History: Tarutao: island of prisoners and pirates". Pattaya Mail. XI (3). Pattaya: Pattaya Mail Publishing Co. Retrieved June 23, 2013. In 1937 the Thai government constructed a prison on the island of Tarutao, one of a group of islands administered by the southern province of Satun.
  6. ^ "Koh Tarutao archipelago is plastic-free". Phuket: The Thaiger. November 1, 2018. Retrieved November 1, 2018.

External links[edit]