Keelung Islet is the tall, rocky island off the coast of Keelung City that has recently been reopened to tourists. The island features a trail to the lighthouse at the highest peak that provides breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Just a short trip from Taipei, and then a 20-minute boat ride, it is one of the most accessible outer islands that you can visit in Taiwan.
Keelung Islet is a volcanic remnant dating back to the Pleistocene era about 1 million years ago and is part of the Ryukyu Volcanic Arc which is formed from the subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate under the Eurasian Plate. After the volcano was formed, it was slowly eroded away by wave action, creating a steep mountain peak with sides at about a 60-degree angle. The island is 182 meters tall (597 feet), 960 meters long (3139 feet), and 400 meters (1312 feet) wide.
Except for crabs, birds, lizards, and insects, the island remained uninhabited until the Japanese stationed troops here during the colonization of Taiwan.
After the ROC took control of Taiwan, the island continued to be a military base.
In 1980, the Keelung Islet Lighthouse was completed. It was the first lighthouse in Taiwan built in an octagonal shape, and the first powered by solar power and batteries.
The islet was opened to tourists in 2001, however, tourism to the island was stopped in 2014 after Typhoon Maria ravaged the island, and was closed for five years until 2019.
Currently, the island is open to tourists, but you cannot stay overnight there. The only people that live on the island are members of the coast guard who stay there on a rotational basis.
Tourist boats take off daily from Baodouzi Harbor from April until October, and the island is closed to tourists during the winter months due to strong northeasterly winds.
The island is popular especially on weekends during the summer, but only 1200 people are allowed to visit each day, so you may have to book in advance.
Boats to Keelung Islet leave at about 8 AM, with the last boats leaving at about 1 PM. Everyone has to be off the island before sundown. Each trip lasts about 3-5 hours depending on the itinerary. You can book boat tickets on Klook here or KKday here.
Boats to Keelung Islet are only available from April to October due to northeasterly winds in the winter.
Boat trip to the island and hike to the lighthouse: about 700 NT
Boat trip to the island, lighthouse, and other places such as elephant trunk rock: about 1200 NT
Again, you can book tickets on Klook here or KKday here; booking on these sites is usually cheaper than buying tickets in person.
When to go:
Boats to Keelung Islet are only available from April to October due to northeasterly winds in the winter.
If you visit from May - June you will be able to see white lily flowers, and August to September is golden spider lily season.
How to get there:
In order to get to Keelung Islet, you first need to make your way to Badouzi Harbor (see map below).
By Car/Scooter: Drive to Keelung, then from downtown take provincial highway 2 East about 10 KM until you reach the turnoff to Badouzi Harbor, and there is some paid parking in front of the harbor.
If you are looking for car rentals, you can also search Qeeq here, Klook here, or KKday here. You can also check out our car rental guide here.
Looking for scooter rental in northern Taiwan? You can search on Klook here or KKday here to search for options. You can also check out our scooter rental guide here.
By Train/Bus: Take the TRA to Badouzi (八斗子） station, then walk about 1 KM northwest until you reach the Badouzi Harbor. You can purchase a discount easy card to use on the MRT and buses from Klook here or KKday here. You can also book an MRT travel pass on Klook here.
By Ferry: Next you have to take a boat to the island. There are multiple ferry boats running to Keelung daily from April to October. You can book tickets on Klook here or KKday here.
Hotels in Keelung:
We recommend Just Live Inn-Keelung and Yung Feng Hotel, which are two great quality hotels for a reasonable price in Keelung's City Center.
You can book Just Live Inn-Keelung on Booking.com here, Agoda here, Klook here, Hotels.com here, Trip.com here, or Kayak here.
You can book Yung Feng Hotel on Booking.com here, Agoda here, Hotels.com here, Trip.com here, Klook here, or Kayak here.
See above for a map of Keelung Islet's location.
See above for the location of Baodouzi Harbor, the place you need to go to get on a boat to Keelung Islet.
You can check out our drone footage of the island above.
Above is also just a short drone loop around the lighthouse.
Or check out the 360 degree spherical panorama above.
And you can see our panorama from the side of the island taken via drone above.
I have always wanted to go to Keelung Islet ever since it opened back up to tourists in 2019, and I finally got a chance to go in 2023. I have been to all the other major outer islands in Taiwan, including Turtle Island which is a very similar experience to Keelung Islet. Overall this island exceeded my expectations. It has one of the best hikes and some of the best views of any outer island in Taiwan. I highly recommend this trip.
Part of the reason I waited so long to take the trip is because I did not want to take the early morning ferry. Finally Klook started to offer an afternoon ferry service, and the weather was looking nice, so I bought some tickets on Klook.
Just to let you know, if you book using the links to Klook or KKday above, we get some commission at no cost to you, and you can help support our blog. Also, booking on these sites is usually cheaper than buying tickets in person.
I should note that I took a three year old and a six year old on this two hour hike up 182 meters on a hot summer day, and they made it! They did fine, and we had a great experience.
12:20 PM: Sadly we learned that during our trip Badouzi Harbor seafood market was closed due to renovations, so we had nothing to eat. We quickly drove to the nearest McDonald's in a mountain suburb of Keelung, which was very busy.
Our boat tour began at 1 PM.
You can also book Wifi and SIM cards for Taiwan on Gigago here.
1:16 PM: You will notice near to Badouzi Harbor there is a ship rusting away next door. This is the Haigong Experimental Ship (海功號試驗船) that was sent to the Antarctic for biological research, but also there is a rumor that it also ran a secret mission to smuggle uranium from South Africa so that Taiwan could build a nuclear bomb arsenal. It is very possible that the smuggling mission was successful, but Taiwan has no nuclear arsenal. Taiwan signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. But the Haigong was active from 1975 until 1993, leaving speculation that Taiwan does have a secret nuclear arsenal.
Originally the ship was meant to be turned into a museum, but the plan fell through, The ship underwent partial demolition, but was saved for further examination of its cultural worth. The ship is now in limbo and its future is uncertain.
Anyways. As I said Badouzi Harbor seafood market was closed due to renovations.
It looked like they were repairing the steel frames holding up the roof.
Another view of the Haigong.
1:28 PM: This part of the harbor is where you check-in for your boat ride, which you should have booked in advance.
In no time, lines of people appeared to get in ferries to see the island.
2:13 PM: It was our turn.
There were a few seats on top and at the bottom where you are less likely to get splashed by seawater.
Multi-million dollar Yacht sitting in Badouzi Harbor.
First view of Keelung Islet.
The visibility was not the best at the start of the day, but got better through the afternoon.
As you can see the salty air and cloudy weather made for some bad photos, but at least you can get a picture of what this trip was like.
2:20 PM: Someone is happy to leave Badouzi Harbor.
You can see a map of Badouzi Harbor and other photos from the beginning of our journey above.
View from the outside of Badouzi and Chaojing Park.
View of Heping Island.
Another view of the shoreline.
Super hazy view in Keelung.
Another view from the boat.
Getting closer to Keelung Islet.
A few boats coming from the island.
Another ferry boat coming back.
The island is becoming clearer.
Full view of the islet.
Enjoying views from the front, trying not to get splashed.
The front (south) side of the island is more calm, and you can see the different wave types converging here.
Closeup on the front of the island.
2:39 PM: Starting our circling of the islet.
Here we can clearly see hikers coming up and down the trail.
Another view of the lighthouse and the trail.
View from the beginning of the trail.
View of the end of the seaside trail and first switchback of the mountain trail.
View of the lighthouse.
This is Lesser Keelung Islet, which is a large rock with some grass on it.
Here is a view of Lesser Keelung Islet from the air via drone.
Leaving lesser Keelung Islet.
View of the north sea cliff on the island. Sorry my lens was covered in salt at this point.
View of the lighthouse from the backside of the island.
Here are some rocks that fishermen used to stop by and fish on.
View of the sea cliffs and golden spider lilies which were in bloom.
Super hazed and blurred backside of the island.
Another view looking back.
Coming into the harbor.
Giant pointy rock at the mouth of the harbor.
And I finally wiped my lens clean.
Can't wait to get off this boat.
View looking back at Keelung.
Another boat of people about to go hiking.
The coastguard greeted us.
Another Ferry full of people.
2:57 PM: We make it to land. The whole boat ride took about half an hour.
You can see more photos of our journey to the island above.
2:57 PM: We then started the hike on this stone path.
I think this marker was originally made by the Japanese.
Water filtration center.
Making our way to the barracks.
This is the only public restroom on the island. Use it wisely. The hike takes about two hours.
Making our way to the cave.
A giant plastic crown that washed up on shore?
3:03 PM: Made it inside the cave. These caves were built by the Japanese so they didn't have to climb over the hill every time to get to the other side of the island.
I'm sure the caves have also been improved for tourism.
Fake lily shrine in here?
The other side of the caves. You can see the old route up and around the hill.
Making our way to the power generator.
I think this is a Diesel power generator.
And this is a lookout made for tourists.
Address plate with Keelung Islet!
Moving on to the Radar Tower.
Full view of the coast guard radar tower.
3:07 PM: Moving on.
Old military bunker.
Beware of snakes! We did not see snakes.
3:09 PM: We began our journey up the trail.
You can choose to hike up the mountain, or you can just walk along the beach. It's your choice. Or you can do both.
More photos from before the real hike began above.
3:09 PM: We began the real hike.
Looking back down after taking a few steps.
A group of people walk back from the beach walk.
Grandpa and his umbrella.
3:18 PM: Frog Rock.
3:20 PM: Coming past the first switch back.
Another view of Lesser Keelung Islet.
A boat passes by Lesser Keelung Islet.
3:25 PM: We made it to the first and only pavilion along the hike.
View of the pavilion from above via drone.
View of Keelung from the pavilion.
View of the harbor below. Our boat was gone.
Clearer view of Keelung Harbor.
3:28 PM: We pressed on.
The steps here are kind of steep.
Looking back at the pavilion and Keelung.
3:41: We found a skink, the largest wildlife we saw on the island.
3:43: We make it to the only switchback on the upper trail.
The view gets scary here.
3:46: We make it to the first viewing platform.
Here you have made it to the top pretty much. 183 meters.
View of the platform from above via drone. It is a steep drop to the bottom from here.
Another view of the lower part of the island via drone.
View of Lesser Keelung Island from the viewing platform.
3:48 PM: We make the last leg toward the lighthouse.
There is also a small reservoir here full of bugs and tadpoles.
There is also an old bunker next to the lighthouse.
3:51 PM: Closeup view of Keelung Islet Lighthouse, the first unmanned solar powered lighthouse in Taiwan.
Another wide view of the lighthouse.
Seating is available next to the lighthouse, but you can't go in.
First lighthouse powered by solar energy in Taiwan.
The lighthouse is not perfectly straight. You can tell it was made by hand.
View of the lighthouse via drone from above.
Another view of the lighthouse.
The view from the lighthouse is not super spectacular, just a lot of ocean. There are plants in the way.
You can see more photos of the trip up to the lighthouse above.
4:21 PM: After half an hour of resting and flying the drone, we made our way down the mountain.
Keelung harbor was even more clear now.
View of the trail above the viewing platform.
4:26 PM: Our guide ran ahead of us. We were the last ones on the mountain.
Going down the rocky switchback section.
Another view of the island from the trail.
View of Little Keelung Islet.
4:39 PM: We made it back to the pavilion.
View of the boardwalk in front of the pavilion. This is probably the best trail in Taiwan in terms of ease.
View of another ship passing the island.
Ship passing by.
White Lilies which were in bloom in June.
There were also these purple flowers.
4:58 PM: We made it back down to the beach. Our guide said we had ten minutes to walk the beach path.
I decided to just fly my drone along this path instead of walking it.
View of the northwest side of the island via drone.
Again, the photo of Lesser Keelung Islet.
View of the harbor via drone. You can see the old trail that used to go over the hill. There is also an old bunker at the top of the hill.
5:05 PM: See the tunnel with no people in it.
5:07 PM: Make it back to the boat just in time.
More photos of the hike down above.
It was finally time to go home.
The visibility was better going back.
Saying goodbye to the island.
Sunbeams over the ocean.
The island getting smaller.
Heping Island in the distance.
Another ferry leaving to who knows where.
5:33 PM: We make it back on shore. It was just a 20 minute boat ride back. The whole trip took a little over three hours.
More photos of the boat ride back above in the gallery above.
Once back on shore, we had to find something to eat, so we went to Baodouzi Weekend Night Market (八斗子假日夜市), which is right next door. We were the only foreigners there.
Again, you can book different tour options for Keelung Islet on Klook here or KKday here; booking on these sites is usually cheaper than buying tickets in person.
For more, check out our full guide to all of Taiwan's outer islands here.
Check out our guide to Keelung here.
Check out our full guide to Taiwan’s Northern Coast here.
You can also check out our full travel guide to Taiwan here.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.