Qimei is a beautiful island getaway on southernmost end of Penghu County. The main attractions there are the iconic double heart rock (Twin Hearts Stone Weir), as well as little Taiwan rock. Getting there is not easy, but it is definitely worth the visit.
The name Qimei, meaning seven beuties, refers to seven women that committed suicide during the Ming dynasty on the island (in the mid 1500s), rather than be defiled by raiding Japanese pirates.
The name also has come to mean the seven beautiful things about the island: the scenery, seawater, products, hearts of the people, geology, buildings, and history. Taiwan touch your heart!
This island and double heart rock are also central to some of Taiwan's tourist marketing in the recent past.
The island is 7km2 and has a population of just under 4,000 people. The main industry is fishing and fish farming, but goat and cattle farming is a growing industry as well.
How To Get there:
By Boat: Boats leave daily from Magong (Makung) from 6:30-9:30, stop at Wangan island, and make the round trip back in the afternoon. It takes about 2 hours to get to Qimei from Magong, and then 2 hours back. A boat ticket for one person round trip from Magong is around 800 NT.
You can buy ferry tickets at the dock or via travel agency (travel agencies include scooter rental, but times are not as flexible).
You can also reach the island by boat via port of Kaohsiung for about 900 NT.
By Plane: There is an airport on Qimei with service to Kaohsiung and Magong.
By Swimming: Do not try to swim there!
Map: Please see below:
Before I went to Qimei, I did some asking around for the best way to get there. First we asked a travel agent, who said she could add in free scooter rental for about 800 per person, but we had to leave at 7 AM. Then we made our way to the main ferry terminal, but all the times were kind of early (like 7:30). The volunteer there said I could go to another ferry terminal (the white building above). Because it was already closed that afternoon, she helped me reserve tickets via phone, and then I would have to purchase them that morning.
I woke up from my beauty rest at 8:00 so that I could reach the ferry terminal at 8:30 right when the ticket counter opened. Before I even got there, there was a line of about 5 travel agents just sitting there, one of them carrying a stack of about 50 ID cards. So I waited for about 20 minutes before I bought a ticket. We boarded the Nanhai Star 2, which has the latest boarding time. My wife slept in to about 9:00 and then we caught the ferry at 9:30. Just to warn you, the ferries leave perfectly on time, so be sure to get there early.
It was super hot outside, but luckily inside there was air conditioning for the almost 5 hours of ferry riding we were doing. The seats were nice and comfortable and there were not many big waves, as compared to some other ferry rides I've had such as to Xiaoliuqiu. Also these photos were taken before I cleaned the dust off my sensor.
Halfway through the journey, the ferry has to stop at Wangan Island, an island in between Magong and Qimei. If you stay longer there you can rent a scooter and circle the island. Because we only stopped there for 30 minutes each way, we didn't bother.
With the 30 minutes I had on Wangan, I walked over to the Green Sea Turtle Conservation Center, looked at the entrance, and turned around. Maybe one day I will spend more time on this island and write more.
Apparently inside the center you can see live sea turtles and watch them lay eggs!
Some people moving serious cargo off the ferry. I wonder how much it costs to ship a car to one of these islands?
Our half hour went by fast, and before we knew it we were on our way again to Qimei.
The first view of Qimei! Twin hearts stone weir is on the right.
After making it to Qimei, we had to find our own transportation to double heart rock.
To the right of the dock are a bunch of scooter rental stalls. Unfortunately I left my Taiwanese scooter license in Penghu with the other scooter rental place. Big mistake! The boss gave me a hard time but eventually just let us rent a scooter because money talks. 有錢有辦法.
The local temple where we hid in the shadows and put on some sun screen. It was dang hot! I could feel the skin melting off my face.
Along the way, we noticed lots of goats. With the recent increase in demand for mutton in Taiwan, raising goats has become a profitable industry for the people of Qimei. Most of the animals freely graze on wild grasses, which makes their meat even more tender and flavorful.
Most of Qimei is surprisingly just empty land waiting to be cultivated!
At the opposite end from the port lies Twin Heart Stone Weir - 雙心石滬 .
This is one of the most famous tourist sites in Taiwan, partially because it is shaped like two hearts, going along with the "Taiwan touch your heart" theme.
The purpose of the Stone Wier is to catch fish. The original stone weir only had one catch pool, but was rebuilt into two in 1937. It was officially made into a cultural landmark in 2006.
The best view of the heart is from the top of the hill, but you can also hike down to the bottom. For the best possible photo, I recommend staying overnight in Qimei and taking a picture of the sunset.
A bunch of people down there ruining my photo! Oh yeah this is what it looks like in real life with no Photoshop.
The sign says: "Weathering Terrain -
The climate in Penghu is scorching hot and has little rain. The monsoon season is relatively strong. Basalts in the area are exposed to sunshine, hit by the strong winds during monsoon seasons, and eroded by the sea. The rocks have been gradually loosened from the outside inward. This is called "weathering." The land form of weathering is called "weathering topography." The dense and rich basalt at Qimei Islet is full of columnar basalt joints and sheet joints, the breccias of which have been affected by weathering. The surface is gradually loosened and peeled leaving only round ball-shaped rocks giving the remaining rock an onion look. Therefore it is called "Onion Shaped Weathering."
Okay I think I am now dumber.
That's the onion look I like to see!
The trail down is not that bad. Make sure you bring lots of water though. If you didn't, you can always buy some at the pavilion above.
What you don't normally see is the small shed and fishing boat next to the rock.
More people in the way of a perfect photo!
Finally it was my turn to ruin everyone's photo.
Here is a closeup of the famous twin hearts.
I don't know how effective this thing is at catching fish. I only saw a few puny ones, and a ton of these sea worms that I once saw at Cheng Ching Lake.
Yep, just a bunch of sea slugs and sea worms.
The walk to the actual hearts and back is not easy. There are tons of boulders you have to traverse, so be careful. I have seen photos of people snorkeling there, but from what I saw there really isn't anything spectacular to see under the water.
We only had two hours on the island, so we quickly moved on to the next destination, Little Taiwan Rock.
I guess it kind of looks like Taiwan, but the bottom is connected to the mainland. Sorry. Maybe this is what Taiwan looked like during the ice age?
Another view of little Taiwan.
As we raced against time back to the pier, we found a cow roaming free! A very rare sight in Taiwan, but not in Qimei.
Some other places we didn't have time to go to were Qimei reservoir, Fenpenzai, mother cow pasture, Dashi Scenic Area, Wangfu Rock, and others. Two hours on Qimei is not enough!
And before we knew it we were back on the ferry bound for Magong. We stopped for another pointless half hour in Wangan before making the final trip back to Magong. Pictured above is Steeple Islet.
That is that! We arrived back in Magong at about 3:30 PM and still had time to got to Shanshui Beach and enjoy the rest of the day without having to worry about missing the ferry. The trip was definitely well worth it and I was happy to have gone where most tourists, including Taiwanese, have never been.
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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.