Close to Kaohsiung, off the southern Taiwanese coast, lies a tiny island called Xiao Liuqiu or Little Liuqiu. It’s Taiwan’s only coral island and, among other things, very famous for its green sea turtles, which you’ll almost always encounter when you go diving there!
Unless… the week prior to your departure not only one but two typhoons decide to pass by Taiwan. Unfortunately typhoons do not take your holiday schedule into consideration!
Bad visibility caused by the typhoons forced us to cancel our diving plans, but there is more to Xiao Liuqiu than just a beautiful underwater world! (We did come back though because we were too excited about the possibility of swimming with sea turtles! More on that in a next post!)
It was pretty weird to drive around on this small island only a few days after two severe typhoons had literally blown away everything in their path. Many trees had snapped and debris was lying all over the place. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live here and go through this almost every year, as Xiao Liuqiu has the highest frequency of being hit by typhoons…
When you hop off the ferry at the port, there are plenty of opportunities to rent a (electric) scooter and start cruising around!
Black Ghost Cave 烏鬼洞
We started our tour at the Black Ghost Cave. You can buy a ticket for 150NT that allows you to visit all the sights around the island. The cave is covered in coral rock and although the entrance is caved in and blocked, there is still a path winding through small cracks in the rocks where you try and can squeeze yourself through.
Geban bay 蛤板灣
By far our favourite beach on Xiao Liuqiu! Look at the colours of the water! The place is perfect for snorkelling, although you might wanna wear shoes to protect yourself from the jagged coral reef. Apart from snorkelling we had lots of fun holding race contests with the many hermit crabs on the beach :)
Wild Boar Trench 山豬溝
Wild Boar Trench is, surprise surprise, made of coral rock! It’s worth going for a walk through these coral-walled cliffs covered with beautiful ferns and other tropical vegetation. No worries, you won’t encounter any wild boars here (anymore)!
In addition to banyan trees, you can find some caves that were used as air-raid shelters during the Japanese occupation. At the time, some parts of the path were blocked by snapped branches or even wooden benches that were torn loose by the typhoon… Be careful!
Shanfu Ecological Corridor 生態廊道
Unfortunately this sight was off limits due to typhoon damage. Apparently you can still see traces of the military occupation and take a look at some old facilities. As this corridor faces towards the west, this should also be the best spot to watch the sunset. We never made it back here, so it’s up to you to verify this!
Getting hungry? Try some of these handmade fried dough twisters! They come in different kinds of flavours: original, sugar, sesame, seaweed, coffee, chocolate, strawberry, wasabi, etc. You can see them being made next to the Green Sea Turtle dive shop, and, according to totally unbiased locals, these are the best!
Beauty Cave 美人洞
The Beauty Cave area is actually a 700m long trail that passes by limestone walls, pavilions, banyan trees, sea terraces and, of course, caves!
Vase Rock 花瓶石
An appropriate name for a mushroom or vase shaped coral rock close to Baisha port. THE spot to take pictures in Xiao Liuqiu! The tide was not yet too high so we could easily reach it and snap away! You’ll see lots of Taiwanese groups attempt to snorkel here wearing wet suits and inflatable rings :) I also tried to snorkel at this spot but the waves were quite strong. I didn’t feel like smashing into the rocks, so we were back on the scooter in no time!
How to get there?
If you aren’t in the south yet, the fastest way to get there is by High Speed Rail, which will take you all the way to Zuoying, Kaohsiung (1490NT). If you have more time and want to spend less money there are also plenty of busses going to Kaohsiung. Check out all the different bus companies in Taipei Bus Station. For more comfort, take an Aloha (590NT) or Ho-shin bus and enjoy your king seat with private TV screen! The most frugal option would be to by a U-bus ticket (470NT). Bear in mind that it’s a five-hour drive without traffic. In Kaohsiung, there is again the option to take a bus to Donggang, but we hopped on the MRT till the last stop, Siaogang, and hailed a cab that drove us to the Donggang Ferry Pier 東港渡船碼頭 (450NT).
There are two ferry companies going to Xiao Liuqiu, a public and a private one. Make sure to check to which harbour they are sailing. Some go to Baisha port, others to Dafu port. We took the one to Baisha port as this is the “biggest” one. Most dive shops, scooter rental shops and main street with 7-11 can be found there. Take a look at the ferry schedule here.
Information & tips
- Reserve well ahead if you’re going during the weekend. The island is very small, so hotels get booked up pretty quickly.
- The easiest way to get around the island is by (electric) scooter.
- A combined ticket (150NT) allows you to visit The Black Ghost Cave, The Beauty Cave, The Wild boar trench and the Ecological corridor. All the other sights are free of charge.
- If you are short on time, it would be possible to hop on an early ferry, explore the island in one day and return with the last boat. If possible, give yourself 2 days so you can fully enjoy all the sights and linger around on the beaches!
- Official website of Xiao Liuqiu with lots of information.