Xiaoliuqiu (aka Little Liuqiu or Lamay Island) is a small island paradise off the southwestern coast of Taiwan. The island is known for its clear water, amazing coral reefs, white sand beaches, and quiet laid back atmosphere. Only a short half hour boat ride from the Taiwan mainland, the island is easily accessible. In addition, the island is small enough that you can round the entire island by scooter in a matter of minutes.
In 1622, a Dutch ship crashed on the island, two years before the Dutch began to rule Taiwan, and all but one of the crew members were killed by the aboriginal tribe living on the island at the time.
In retaliation, the Dutch sent a force to massacre the natives on the island. 300 men, women, and children were suffocated alive in a large cave, and the rest of the people were put into slavery by the Dutch. This was known as the Lamey Island Massacre. Later Chinese people began inhabiting the island in 1645.
Later the island fell into Qing, Japanese, and ROC rule.
Currently the island is a township of Pingtung County with a population of over 10,000 people. Most of the people on the island rely on fishing and tourism for a living.
The island also has one of the largest concentrations of temples in Taiwan.
Xiaoliuqiu started to become a major tourist destination after 2004, reaching over 400,000 tourists per year.
How to get there:
The only way to get there is via ferry from Donggang's Dongliu Ferry Terminal. The ferry ride takes about 30 minutes. There is a ferry leaving from Donggang roughly every hour from 7 AM to 5 PM.
Ferry ride: 410 NT per round trip
Scooter rental: about 300 NT per day. There is a gas station on the back side of the island.
Snorkeling: about 300 NT per hour
Scuba diving: around 2500 NT for 2-3 hours
When to go:
Anytime! Xiaoliuqiu is a tropical island that has warm water and temperatures (above 25 degrees Celsius) year round.
Map: Please see below:
We have visited Xiaoliuqiu twice, once in 2014 and once in 2016. When we first drove to Donggang 東港, we were not quite sure which boat to take to get there. Parking was cheap, only 30 NT per day. We ended up taking the public ferryboat over. While buying tickets, a lady asked us if we wanted to rent scooters, and set us up with her friend who rents scooters on the island. We paid her right then, which seemed shady but it worked out.
The boat ride was crowded and somewhat slow, but we made it to the island safe and sound. Right when we got off the boat, the scooter rental people found us and took us to our scooters. It was 300 NT per scooter, which is very cheap for scooter rental. The scooter people didn’t even look at our licenses, and they said themselves that helmets were not required. However, the second time we visited the rental shops all required us to wear helmets because the police had recently cracked down on tourists. We rode around the island on our scooters and saw everything from the shops to the beaches to more beaches and some restaurants. The weather was great. Be aware that a few private beaches that you have to pay to get into. Also everything seemed to be a little more expensive than one would expect in Kaohsiung.
Xiaoliuqiu has some of the best snorkeling in Taiwan. There are snorkeling rental shops and tours all over the island, the usual price being 300 NT for an hour tour per person.
Our snorkeling session only lasted 30 minutes, but it was an unforgettable, once in a lifetime kind of experience.
We just chose a random snorkeling shop near the center of town (there are snorkeling shops literally everywhere on the island). A typhoon had just passed through so we were afraid that there would be an ocean warning, but luckily we were able to get in the water and snorkel.
And of course we saw a sea turtle!
Our guide fed bread to the fish to keep them close.
More fish, including some clown fish.
After only an hour of snorkeling I got a little sea sick. We were holding onto a life raft and bobbing up and down with the waves, which did not sit well with my stomach, so we hit the beach.
The best beach on the island is Gebanwan 蛤版灣, which has perfect white sand. There is also some cheap showers next to the small temple in the picture above.
Snorkeling in the crystal clear water at Gebanwan.
Soaking in the rays.
Later a group of Taiwanese tourists came, and in typical Taiwanese fashion walked into the water with all of their normal clothes still on.
I could count the people who actually brought swimwear on one hand. This is because Taiwanese people are afraid of tanning and showing skin.
View to the north of the beach.
Two fisherman fishing just off shore.
Another fisherman looking discouraged.
We forgot sunscreen.
Small lobster in the sand.
Container ships looming in the background.
There was a nice lighthouse at the top of the island but not much of a view. All in all we had a fun time.
"The White Lighthouse also called Liuqiu lighthouse stands on the top of a hill in southwestern Liuqiu at 22' 12'48' north latitude and 120' 21'55' east longitude. It was built in 1929. The lighthouse is white in color and round in shape, and is made of concrete. It is 10 meters tall from base to tip, and flashes each 2.2 seconds day and night. The light can be seen up to 20 nautical miles away. Like the lighthouse at Eluanbi, it helps guide ships navigating through the Taiwan Strait and the Bashi Channel, and is thus an international lighthouse. Under the bright sun, the white lighthouse stands out vividly against the blue sky, presenting a very different impression from its bright flashes of light at night."
View from the top of the lighthouse.
Some bamboo had fallen over in the latest typhoon, blocking the road to the lighthouse.
The hundred year old banyan tree (百年老榕樹) near the lighthouse.
Fisherman trying to make a living on the rocky coral shores.
More fisherman on one of the island's many piers.
The three of us in 2014, which has become the blog's logo. There is a nice swimming spot there called Shanfu Fishing Harbor (杉福漁港) with a small beach and showers, that you can see in the background.
I think the most fun part about that island was us just randomly driving all around on those scooters, and going full throttle down the streets.
Broken down fence after typhoon Nepartak in 2016.
Fallen trees after Nepartak.
There is also interesting geology along the coastline, as you can see from the sign above.
We can get close to the cliffs now, right?
Waves beating against the cliffs on the north side of the island.
Map of the ocean base points around Taiwan
Artwork destroyed by Nepartak.
More coral coastline. There is a special teapot rock that a lot of people take photos of near here, but I did not take a picture.
Sunset pavilion, the best place for seeing the sunset on the island.
Looking back to the Taiwan mainland from the sunset pavilion.
Sunset over the Taiwan Strait.
Sun peaking out of the clouds.
View of Kaohsiung from Sunset pavilion.
View of mainland Taiwan at night.
Ships passing in the night.
One place that stuck out to me was a mango ice place that served their ice in sea shells, as well as providing sea shell spoons (海の家貝殼海藻冰 address: No. 61, Minsheng Rd, Liuqiu Township, Pingtung County, 929). They also had savory seafood flavored ice, which was weird. Also there was the usual street markets that you would expect to find in Taiwan with any Taiwanese food you could ask for.
We almost got lost trying to find the port home; there are three different harbors on the island, and it took us a while to find the third one. But we eventually made it back, wishing we had stayed longer.
For more, check out this blog by JSB, or go check out the island for yourself! You will not regret it.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working 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.