Xiao Liu Qiu 小琉球 is a small island located off the coast of Kaohsiung City. It is a fun trip for those who want to leave the city and enjoy the outdoors. The island itself is actually not part of Kaohsiung. It is part of the township of Dong Gang which is in Ping Dong. Visitors get to the island via ferry which leaves from Dong Gang which is about 30 minutes by car south of Kaohsiung City.
Xiao Liu Qiu is a wonderful day or overnight trip. Visitors can rent scooters and explore the island while stopping to visit many of the natural caves and rock formations while also taking in the views. There are beaches to swim at, snorkeling (see the turtles), and also diving. All can be set up when you arrive at the island.
Xiao Liu Qiu is recommended when the weather is good. In summer, the sun is hot, however, in the evenings, it cools down and you can see the city lights of Kaohsiung City. We visited in January. The weather was dry, cool, and comfortable, however, the winter haze blocked out the views. If you are going during typhoon season (July-September) make sure you aren't there when one hits.
The high speed ferry leaves from Dong Gang next to the Hua Qiao Fish Market. There is a ferry terminal with several ticket windows. Just go up and tell them you want to buy a round trip ticket to Xiao Liu Qiu. Round Trip prices are 410 NT. The ride takes 20 minutes.
After you buy your ticket, just head to the back of the building and there will be a line for the next boat. Although different companies run the boats, they share in the profit so visitors can hop on any boat. If you have a bicycle or motorcycle, go to the special line (usually shorter) so they can load your bike on board.
Bicycles are an extra 50NT each way. You buy that ticket while you are in the line, not at the window. Scooters are an extra 100NT each way.
Below, a look inside the ferry.
Push your bike or scooter to the back of the boat and a crewman will roll it on the ferry for you. Crewmen also roll the bikes off.
The ferry ride is 20 minutes and docks at Xiao Liu Qiu harbor.
The men in orange are the Coast Guard. They are very serious about passenger boats and you can see them do head counts of the number of passengers.
A different view of the dock and harbor at Xiao Liu Qiu. The terminal is the rainbow colored building.
If you are planning to stay for the night and you haven't booked a room or campsite, no need to worry. As soon as you disembark, you will see many people holding signs for different b&bs or "Minsu" is Chinese. You can try to find out if there are any vacancies. If you have booked, these people are here to take you to your "minsu". English is limited so do your best to communicate.
There is a little street adjacent to the ferry terminal exit. Here, you can find a scooter, get information, or get some food.
Both fuel powered and electric scooters are available to rent for the day. They cost about 350NT.
Below is a view of the street next to the harbor. When you proceed to the right and up the hill, you will enter the old street and other busier streets of the island.
The old street is up the hill to the right after you get leave the ferry terminal. There are many stalls selling snacks, especially the Hua Ma Lao snack which is prevalent. There are several 7-11s and Family Marts on the island as well.
Once you have gotten a bike, you can head off on the main road that runs around the island. There are plenty of maps along the way, but many hotels and the visitor center also carry maps for you. The maps have the main sites listed where you can hop off your bike and explore a bit.
If you drove around the island with stopping, it would take about 20 minutes. The whole island is only about 7 square kilometers. The name "liu qiu" translates as "crystal ball" which people say the island looks like from the water.
As you ride around the island, you will come across many of the visitor sites. For 120 NT you can buy a ticket and visit all of them over a 48 hour period. Many are trails, rock formations, and funky caves. There is a ticket window at each spot and always a few stalls selling souvenoirs and snacks.
There are mulitple signs in English all around the island to point you where to go. The roads are numbered clearly as well.
Nice roads with great views. There are not many cars at all on the island.
Careful of the crabs.....we didn't see any.
A view of an oyster farm at one point of the island.
The island has a "sunset pavilion" which faces west. The sky and ocean colors can be spectacular here.
If you are riding an electric scooter, there are many charging stations located along the main island road.
One stop on the map is the white lighthouse. It is a bit up a hill. Not many views to see. Apparently the lighthouse can be seen from 14 nautical miles away. Visiting the white lighthouse is free.
Here is the entrance to the "Wild Boar Trench". It's a walk in and squeeze through some tight rock formations. This is part of the ticket that you buy.
This old banyan tree is able to grow on the island because it has been protected from the winds. It is near the white lighthouse and is a free site.
Below, fisherman fish off rocks along the island.
There are many temples that dot the island and they make for great photo shots with the ocean and sky backdrop.
A rock formation hangs over the main road.
Geban Bay is a free stop. Visitors can park their bikes above and hike down to the beach. The water was rough in the winter, however, there were no signs that said swimming was prohibited.
Vendors sell shells collected from the island.
A large cuttlefish is flattened and dried. Cuttlefish is one of the common seafoods on the island.
There are restaurants and some small bars on Xiao Liu Qiu along the small "down town" area and within the small alleys. Enjoy Xiao Liu Qiu, it's a cool place.
Below, the sign back to Dong Gang.