A Brief Story of Koh Tao (First generation of pioneers)

Once upon of time, the Boon-Chai brothers from Bang Ma Kam village, Koh Samui explored and settled on Tao Island.

At that time, all areas of Koh Tao were only forests, no bodies, there were only animals namely snakes, pythons, a flock of Pied imperial pigeons, and Nicobar pigeons walking everywhere.

There were many turtles climbing up the island to lay their eggs. Especially in Koh Nang Yuan.

After the founding of the Boon-Chai brothers, other locals from other lands were also curious about this island, they came here and after seeing the beautiful forests on Koh Tao, they realized that Koh Tao has resources for expanding their territory.

The locals began to remove grass and some of the juggles and built residences. The pioneers came to Koh Tao by their fishing boats.

It was a boat using wind power to move. Its sail was made from Palm leaves. Many leaves were weaved becoming a big sail.

It was a quite big boat actually, able to transport 4000 liters or 3000 kilograms of rise.

Afterward, in 1953, the locals from Koh Pha-Ngan first came to Koh Tao and also preempted the lands on the islands since then.

Notice here, according to the story, although Koh Phan-Ngan is located nearer to Koh Tao (see map),

but people from Koh Pha-Ngan discovered Koh Tao after the people on Koh Samui had done it.

The first group of pioneers from Koh Pha-Ngan mostly preempted the lands at Mae Had (One of the top beaches of Koh Tao today,

this man had a great economic vision, but how?), Laem Hin Cho PO Ro, Chalok Ban Kao Bay.

In that period, their travel from Koh Pha-Ngan to Ko Tao took 1 day by sailboat.

Time went by, there were many more pioneers in Koh Tao, more residences were built, and became a mini village.

This mini village on Koh Tao was considered to be a part of Chalok Lam village which is located on koh Pha-Ngan.

The reason that this mini village was administrated from Chalok Lam village,

just that most of the pioneers who built this mini village were from Koh Pha-Ngan, from this Chalok Lam village exactly (It is still a question of mine).

When there were more members in this mini village on Koh Tao, it became a full village called Koh Tao village and was free from Chalok Lam village in 1967.

It was administrated directly from Sub-district Koh Pha-Ngan, its address then was Koh Tao Village, Sub-district Koh Pha-Ngan, District Koh Pha-Ngan.

12 years after (In 1979), the Koh Tao village was big enough to become a Sub-district, namely Sub-district Koh Tao, district Koh Pha-Ngan till today,

and is separated into 3 villages. (FYI, in Thailand the administrative level is: province > district > sub-district > village).


The early generation of locals on Koh Tao

The early human lives on Koh Tao rely on resources in the ocean.

There are plenty of sea animals such as fish, shells, crabs, and shrimp to serve their daily hunger.

The common methods to find their food were using fish traps, fishing nets, fishing hooks,

and digging for turtle eggs Since there were plenty of turtles on the island that time ashore the island for egg laying.

For rice, in the very first period, they brought it from their homeland Koh Pha-Ngan.

Then began to do rice and coconut farming afterwards. Cutting wild using an axe and planting rice or coconut. After harvesting the rice, they milled them by using rice mortar.

When they temporarily back to Koh Pha-Ngan, they still looked for turtle eggs on the beach and brought with to Koh Pha-Ngan.

Many turtles have been caught by net boats since 1957. This caused extreme degeneration of the turtle population.

Since then Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan are not been places for the turtles anymore.

In 2577, there was the first group of travelers on the islands. The locals have since then built small bungalows.

When there were more and more travelers, some locals changed their occupancy from coconut farming to tourism-related carriers.


Now Koh Tao is worldwide well known for snorkeling and diving activities. Nature is still remaining enough to see fish, turtles, and corals.

Just not as much as decades ago. Here is an experience expressed by one of the staff after visiting Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan. # Personal Experience from Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan speed boat trip, December 2022.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *