Xiao Liuqiu Island: Pearl of Taiwan’s Southwest Coast

Coral filled seas, salty air and beautiful beaches as far as the eye can see. All this and more await visitors on Xiao Liuqiu, a charming little island is located about 15 KM west of Taiwan’s southwestern coast in Pingtung county. Looking to get off the beaten path? First, you have to get there.

Gogoro on Xiaoliuqiu

Getting to and around Liuqiu

Unless your name is Michael Phelps, the only way to get to Liuqiu is by taking a 30-minute ferry ride from Donggang in Pingtung county. As with most other off-island excursions in Taiwan, you’ll need to bring your passport or ARC to get on the boat. Once you’ve reached Dafu port (the only port on the island), travel around the island is easy. There are shuttle buses as well as bicycles and motorcycles for hire. The island itself is small, just a shade under 7 square kilometers, so walking is also an option (you can hike the perimeter in about 4 hours).

Accommodation on Liuqiu

The island offers hostels, hotels and charming B&B, most of which have their own unique characteristics. You can book hotels online at a booking site like Hotels.com or Agoda, search the web for the sites directly (most will be in Chinese), or contact MyTaiwanTour and we’ll help you out. Another option is to camp on the island at the Samaji Campground. The English In Taiwan Website has a good roundup of accommodation choices on the island.

Liuqiu’s nautical pursuits

As you’d imagine, many of Xiao Liuqiu’s activities are centered around the ocean. You can, of course, while away several days lying on the beach, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, should you choose to experience some of the island’s main nautical pursuits, you’ll be in good company, specifically sea urchin, sea cucumbers, starfish and other denizens of the deep. Snorkeling is big on the island, with most people swimming around Flower Vase Rock or beauty cave to check out the plethora of tropical fish living in the coral. Of course, no trip snorkeling trip to Liuqiu can be considered truly complete without sighting one of the beautiful green sea turtles living in the warm waters around the island. Look, but of course, don’t touch. You’ll find plenty of spots renting equipment, or you can bring your own. Owing to its fine coral (and the aforementioned turtles), Xiao Liuqiu is also a popular spot for scuba divers. One organization on the island leading tours is Marine House Diving Bee.

Activities for landlubbers

Liuqiu has some beautiful scenery, including bamboo groves, old temples and magnificent caves, making it an excellent destination for hikers. If you’re going to explore the caves, best to bring a flashlight and prepare to get your clothing dirty. Lobster Cave is an especially nice spot to watch the sunrise (if you’re an early riser), and the aptly named Sunset Pavilion on the Island’s southern flank is a great place to watch the sun go down while being serenaded by the music.

Nighttime touring in Liuqiu

When the sun goes down so does the temperature, and Liuqiu’s nocturnal creatures come out to play, and there are a number of tour guides on the island doing nighttime tours designed to introduce visitors to various birds, insects and crustaceans who are especially active at night. These tours also include visits to temples and tales of the island’s unique legend and lore.

Owl bar & Spring Vodka

Other nightlife pursuits

Beautiful scenery aside, Liuqiu also offers visitors a pretty cool bar scene for a small island, with a number of different nighttime watering holes offering a variety of styles, decorations, music, ambiance and adult refreshments. The Owl Bar has a few signature drinks, including Passion, a mixture of local Captain Beer with a berry jam (it’s got a surprisingly sweet and sour flavor, and is surprisingly smooth). Beautiful Land is a cocktail of homemade beet rose wine and gin. Try one. MrBartender is another popular bar. Look for a sign reading “spring vodka” with a hand-drawn rabbit.

With much to see and do, it’s not surprising that Xiao Liuqiu can get a bit crowded on the weekends. If crowds aren’t your thing, try to come out during the week when you’ll have much of the island – and the sea surrounding it – to yourself.

Looking to explore Xiao Liuqiu, Pingtung, or anywhere else in southern Taiwan (or all of Taiwan). Check out the tours offered by MyTaiwanTour.