Most of Ko Tarutao’s whopping 152 sq km is covered in old-growth jungle, which rises sharply up to the park’s 713m peak. Mangrove swamps and typically impressive limestone cliffs circle much of the island, and the western coast is pocked with caves and lined with quiet white-sand beaches. This is one of Thailand’s wildest islands. The park entrance fee, payable on arrival, is 200B.
Tarutao’s sordid history partly explains its preservation. Between 1938 and 1948, more than 3000 Thai criminals and political prisoners were incarcerated here, including interesting inmates such as So Setabutra, who compiled the first Thai–English dictionary while imprisoned on Tarutao, and Sittiporn Gridagon, son of Rama VII. During WWII, food and medical supplies from the mainland were severely depleted and hundreds of prisoners died from malaria. The prisoners and guards mutinied, taking to piracy in the nearby Strait of Malacca until they were suppressed by British troops in 1944.
There’s internet (80B per hour) and wi-fi (50B per hour) at the Ao Pante Malacca Information Centre.