Referring to the beautiful island nation of Taiwan, we often immediately think of the fairy-tale scenery in Jiufen and Shifen Ancient Villages, the mysterious Alishan mountains and forests, the magnificent National Palace Museum in Taipei or the spectacular mountain and sea scenery in Hualien… Few people know that Taiwan also has beautiful and poetic islands that can capture the heart of any sea-island lover both at home and abroad. In this article, let’s experience a day in Xiaoliuqiu – a beautiful coral island located in the south of Taiwan.
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So, is Xiaoliuqiu island worth visiting, how to visit Xiaoliuqiu, what to do in Xiaoliuqiu? Let’s check out our Xiaoliuqiu travel blog (Xiaoliuqiu blog) with the fullest Xiaoliuqiu travel guide (Xiaoliuqiu guide) from how to get to Xiaoliuqiu, best places to visit top things to do in Xiaoliuqiu as well as suggested on how to spend 1 day in Xiaoliuqiu (Xiaoliuqiu itinerary) to help you maximize your trip as follows!
Overview of Xiaoliuqiu coral island (# xiaoliuqiu guide)
Xiaoliuqiu or Xiao Liuqiu (Chinese Name: 小琉球) is a beautiful small coral island located just an hour’s drive from Kaohsiung and a short sea ferry ride away. In addition to the name Xiaoliuqiu, the island has many other names such as Lamay Island, Lambai Island, Little Ryukyu or Little Okinawa.
Xiaoliuqiu coral island is popular thanks to its charming sea scenery with clear blue water, warm tropical waters with diverse marine life, peaceful feeling, fresh seafood and especially the opportunity to see see green sea turtles up close! Although only about 6.8km2, this small island of Taiwan still has a lot of activities to experience such as snorkeling, scuba diving to see corals and sea turtles, riding motorbikes or trekking to visit unique places around the island, eating seafood, swimming and relaxing.
Because it is only about 12.5km (7.8 nautical miles) from the shore, much closer than other offshore islands of Taiwan such as Penghu (澎湖) or Lyudao (綠島), this is a place that is especially popular among Taiwanese people. Especially favorite and choice for short holidays, weekends and very convenient for a day trip.
How to get to Xiaoliuqiu island? (# xiaoliuqiu guide)
The only way to get to Xiaoliuqiu island is by ferry (sea boat) from Donggang Ferry Terminal in Donggang City, Pingtung County an hour’s drive from Kaohsiung City. There are ferries to the island every hour, the ferry terminal operating time is from 7am to 5:30pm and it takes about 20 minutes to get to Xiaoliuqiu.
From Kaohsiung, the easiest way to get to Donggang Ferry Terminal is by car or motorbike. However, if you are not able to drive yourself in Taiwan, you can consider other means as follows:
A convenient, safe and fast way to get from Kaohsiung to Donggang Ferry Terminal is to take a taxi or Uber. But the cost will be quite high from 1,000 – 1,300 NT dollars for one-way travel. If you go with a group of friends, you can share with each other and save quite a bit.
If you prefer to take public transport, you can take the Dapeng Bay Liuqiu Express bus (9127D) from Zuoying Station which goes directly to Donggang Ferry Terminal. The trip takes about an hour and the first bus leaves at 8:30am. The ride costs about NT$120 and you can buy tickets at the Kenting Express ticket counter at Exit 2 of HSR Zuoying Station. However, the disadvantage of traveling by bus is that the departure time is quite late and it takes a long time to get to Xiaoliuqiu.
Returning to Kaohsiung from the Donggang ferry terminal is much easier. After getting off the ferry, you’ll see a number of taxi drivers waving a sign for a shuttle service back to Kaohsiung with the same price. Because the driver can combine trips to bring visitors back to Zuoying station, the price is usually much cheaper than the departure trip.
There are currently three shipping lines (TF Express, Dongliu and Leuco Sapphire) operating ferries from Donggang Ferry Terminal to Xiaoliuqiu with similar prices and travel times. You should consider buying a return ticket as well as it is a bit cheaper and also more reassuring. The round trip ferry tickets to Xiaoliuqiu cost NT$450 and NT$230 for one way. The return ticket is valid for 7 days, allowing you to spend up to a week on Xiaoliuqiu islands. There is also a public ferry that runs at a lower fare (NT$200 one way) but with sparse operating time.
When to visit Xiaoliuqiu? (# xiaoliuqiu travel blog)
Xiaoliuqiu can be considered a great destination all year round making it an ideal rendezvous for a weekend or short break. The climate is mostly dry and warm, but becomes quite hot and humid during the summer months.
Spring (March – May) is a popular season to visit Xiaoliuqiu because of its pleasantly cool temperature with little rain. I went at this time and recommend everyone to visit at this time because there is beautiful sunshine, cool sea breezes and not too hot, very suitable for exploring around the island.
Summer (June – August) is the low season in Xiaoliuqiu, but the temperatures are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving. However, summer weather can be quite hot and muggy with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celsius, making it easy to lose strength when visiting Xiaoliuqiu. Because the summer months are prone to storms, it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast a week before making your trip.
Autumn (September – November), the temperature is quite pleasant in the range of 25°C – 30°C. Because the autumn weather is quite nice and coincides with Taiwan’s Mid-Autumn Festival, hotel rooms are often booked up quickly. Prices also tend to be slightly higher than in the summer. However, you should know that the island of Taiwan is still prone to thunderstorms, typhoons, and large waves during September.
Winter (December – February) is an interesting time to visit Xiaoliuqiu because the weather is quite pleasant, the average temperature ranges from 22°C – 25°C. If you don’t like crowds and want a true vacation, this is a great time to visit Xiaoliuqiu island.
Staying in Xiaoliuqiu (# xiaoliuqiu blog)
Most people will choose to visit XiaoLiuQiu for a day trip departing from Kaohsiung. A one-day itinerary is quite enough time for you to stop at several check-ins, enjoy a delicious seafood lunch or join a diving tour lasting several hours. But if you have more time, about 2-3 days you can explore every corner of Xiaoliuqiu, slow down and immerse yourself in the peaceful life here. If you plan to stay here for longer, check out its hotels on Agoda.com or Booking.com.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Loju sunrise inn (Agoda, Booking)
- Xiaoliuqiu 1302 Seaview Guesthouse (Agoda, Booking)
- Moon Star Villa (Agoda, Booking)
- Wien Art Villa (Agoda, Booking)
- 98Inn (Agoda, Booking)
- 極の宿 eXtreme (Agoda, Booking)
- Xiao Liuqiu Mediterranean B&B (Agoda, Booking)
Getting around Xiaoliuqiu
Rent a motorbike: The most convenient way to explore Xiaoliuqiu is to rent a motorbike or electric bike near the pier, the rental price for a day is about NT$450. However, you should note that renting a motorbike in Taiwan requires you to have an international driver’s license.
Walking: If you are passionate about trekking and visit Xiaoliuqiu on a not too hot day, walking is a pretty fun way to explore this island.
In addition, on the island, there are also buses running around the island, but this vehicle will be more suitable for locals than tourists because of the few trips and difficulty in looking up the schedule.
What do to and where to go in Xiaoliuqiu
Flower Vase Rock (花瓶石) (# xiaoliuqiu guide)
Address: Liuqiu Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 929
Hours: Open 24 hours
This beach with a rock shaped like a flower vase is almost a symbol of Xiaoliuqiu that visitors to Xiaoliuqiu cannot miss. This beach is also quite close to the ship port to the island, so it is very convenient to visit even if you do not have a motorbike. There is a special thing that this beach will almost disappear at high tide, so it’s up to you whether you can see this beach or not. This is also one of the ideal places to swimming with sea turtles in Xiaoliuqiu.
Beauty Cave (美人洞)
Address: Huandao Rd, Liuqiu Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 929
Hours: 7 AM–6 PM
Continuing along the coast in the northwest direction of the island, you will come across the Beauty Cave, one of the three most visited natural caves in Xiaoliuqiu. With only an entrance fee of NT$120, you can explore the unique geology of both Beauty Cave and Black Devil Cave, and explore the beautiful trail between the caves. As you pass through these caves, you will be able to observe the cave’s limestone formations covered with shells and fossil corals.
Sea View Pavilion
After exploring the cave, the trail will lead you to the Sea View Pavilion – one of the best views of the Taiwan Strait. The observatory is designed with the colors of ancient Chinese traditional culture with green tiles mixed with red columns in harmony with the poetic natural scenery here. From this observatory, it is possible to clearly observe the jade green color of the sea water interspersed with coral reefs.
Diving and kayaking
Surely, snorkeling or scuba diving is one of the must-do in Xiaoliuqiu island. You will have an opportunity to encounter a wide rage of marine life, coral reefs… as well as kayaking around the island is also a great experience.
In addition, rent a motorbike or bike and riding around the island, stop by its stunning beaches… is also an interesting experience you should try when coming to this tranquil island.
Some notes when visiting Xiaoliuqiu
Cash: Bring enough cash to cover your trip as there are very few ATMs on Xiaoliuqiu and they only accept domestic bank cards.
Eco-friendly sunscreen: Sunscreen is definitely our indispensable item on beach trips. However, if you intend to snorkel and observe sea turtles, make sure that the sunscreen you are using is safe and environmentally friendly because marine organisms are extremely sensitive and can get hurt by our sunscreen when going into the sea.
Waterproof phone cases and bags: Surely you will not want to miss the moments taken with corals, schools of sea fish swimming around or most especially sea turtles. So, bring a good waterproof bag so that you can keep your phone safe when taking it into the sea.
Umbrellas and hats: remember to bring a hat or umbrella, this will be your savior against the harsh sun of the sea and islands.
Xiaoliuqiu is really a very peaceful small island, but also very unique, worth a visit once for island lovers when coming to Taiwan. Unfortunately, on this trip, because it took a long time to travel by bus, I could not explore all the attractions on Xiaoliuqiu Atoll as well as experience watching corals and sea turtles. If you have the opportunity to visit Xiaoliuqiu, you should rent a motorbike to travel to be able to experience all about this lovely island.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Xiaoliuqiu you can refer to
- Klook PASS Xiaoliuqiu
- Round-Trip Ferry Ticket between Donggang and Xiaoliuqiu
- Pingtung: Liuqiu Kayaking Experience and Sunrise Kayak Tour
- Pingtung: Little Liuqiu Whale Latitude Ocean Club – Canoe / Transparent Canoe Experience
- Round-Trip Ferry Ticket between Donggang and Xiaoliuqiu
- Glass Bottom Boat and Snorkeling Experience in Xiaoliuqiu
- Xiaoliuqiu Round Trip Boat (Pingtung Departure)
- Xiaoliuqiu Snorkeling experience and swimming with sea turtles Discount for multiple people
- Lambai Island Electric Bike and Motorbike Rental
- Xiaoliuqiu: Poseidon Ocean Sports Club – Snorkeling Experience
- Pingtung: Discover Diving Experience in Lambai Island by Liuqiu Dive
- Xiaoliuqiu Glamping in Pingtung by Bahile
- 369 Snorkeling Shop Snorkeling & SUP Experience in Xiaoliuqiu
- Kayak Sailing Experience in Xiaolliuqiu, Pingtung
- Pingtung: Shuilanshe Diving – License-free Experience Diving in Xiaoliuqiu
Read more Taiwan guide here.