Ko Taratao lies approximately 30km west off the coastal city of Satun. The island is 26.5km long and 11km wide. The highest point is over 700m above sea level. Rainforest covers over 70% of the island.
The name Tarutao comes from the Malay words "Pulau Tertua" (the island of old).
In the early 1940's Ko Tarutao was used as a prison because it was considered remote and hard to escape from.
The 5th season of the television show Survivor was filmed on Ko Tarutao.
There is a one-time national park admission charge upon arrival of 200 baht for foreigners and 40 baht for Thai citizens.
Speedboats operating between Ko Lipe and Pak Bara will stop at Ko Tarutao if the captain is notified ahead of time an extra charge may have to be paid). The journey from either Pak Bara or Ko Lipe to Ko Tarutao takes 45 minutes and costs approximately 300 baht. You may be able to buy a ticket between Pak Bara and Ko Lipe and "stopover" in Ko Tarutao for a few days. Pak Bara offers bus and minibus connections to most of the major cities in Thailand, while Ko Lipe can be reached from Malaysia. If taking the bus to Pak Bara from elsewhere in Thailand, make sure that you will arrive in time to catch the ferry, otherwise you will have to spend a night in Pak Bara.
Ferries depart Ko Lipe daily for Ko Tarutao at 9:30 year round, with additional daily departures at 12:30 and 13:30 during the high season.
Ferries depart Pak Bara daily for Ko Tarutao at 11:30 year round for 300 Baht, with additional daily departures at 14:30 and 15:30 during the high season.
Walking is the best way to see the island. The speedboats drop off passengers near the park headquarters building on the north side of the island.
The south part of the island is generally unpatrolled and a report notes that it is run by gangsters and is the location of a human trafficking operation.
The national park runs and manages a restaurant that provides a considerable range of good quality meals: fried rice/noodles (90 baht), main courses (100-150 baht), all day with cold soft drinks, water (1.5ltr 30 baht), and canned beer (45/50 baht).
The national park also runs a small mini-mart for snack foods, soft drinks, and bottled water.
All accommodation on the island is park-owned and managed, and guests have the choice of bungalows or camping.
Bungalows are between 600 baht (two persons) and 1,000 baht (four persons). Bungalows have a varying degree of luxuriousness: some are a simple room with 4 beds, some have room dividers, and some have outdoor toilets.
Tents can be hired from the park office for 150 baht per night, which includes the cost of the tent site near the beach. The tents are not waterproof, can comfortably accommodate 2 persons without luggage, and lack headroom for anyone over 178 cm. Luggage can be stored in the office to free-up space in the tent. Tent sites cost 30 baht per night if you bring your own tent.
Internet (of dubious quality) is available at the park headquarters building.