The United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) via the Hello Kitty Global Channel, in cooperation with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, has named Ko Tao as the island with a strong community committed to coral reef conservation. The announcement was made on the World Oceans Day 2020, 8 June, making Ko Tao as one of the global communities that follows “Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” under the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Ko Tao – which means Turtle Island – was given the name because its pristine beaches have long been breeding and egg-laying sites for green turtles. Today, the island is Thailand’s most popular scuba-diving destination, and there are many diving schools, shops, resorts and diving tour operators, which cater for beginners and experienced divers alike.
Dive operators and local dive schools on Ko Tao are praised for adopting the Green Fins practices to protect the marine environment. Divers are usually among some the most ecologically aware individuals on the planet and are well schooled that proper diving means avoiding contact with any plant or marine life they encounter. With Ko Tao’s ongoing sustainable, community-based initiatives, the island’s marine environment is always prepared to handle future generations of eco-aware divers and tourists.
There is also an on-going drive by the local people and authorities to preserve the natural wonders of Ko Tao and keep it clean and pristine, while trying to cater for the many young people who go there, with a range of food and nightlife options.
Located just off the mainland province of Surat Thani in Southern Thailand, Ko Tao can be reached by speedboat or ferry from Samui and the mainland. Once there, travellers can enjoy powdery, white sandy beaches washed by the waves of crystal-clear seawater.