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 to the World Heritage in 1990, but its listing was deferred in the fifteenth session of the World Heritage Committee in 1991. The UNESCO requested a stronger management of the area.
The island had been used in the late 1930s as a penal colony for Thai political prisoners. During World War II, when support from the mainland was cut off, the guards and prisoners banded together and formed raiding parties on ships sailing through the waters near the island. 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

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