Friday, July 8, 2011

Xiao Liuqiu (小琉球), I love you!

We had an amazing time in Xiao Liuqiu this week and because it was so busy we have broken the trip into two posts. Before I begin, I also want to say that we will be trying to add more detailed information in our posts about where and how people can do some of the things we’re doing so our blog is more helpful to travelers! Don’t worry - this will in no way take away from our rambling personal anecdotes and fat kid food descriptions. We’ll be putting in more information as we go forward, and after we get through the craziness of the next few weeks we’ll start updating our back entries as well.

On Tuesday morning, Brett and I got up early to catch a bus from Kaohsiung Main Station to Donggang. The bus only took about 45 minutes and when we arrived in Donggang we took a five minute cab ride to the ferry terminal. Stanley had written down a note in Chinese for us to hand to the person at the ticket booth, who then handed us the prepaid tickets that were included with our hotel room on the island. Easy peasy. The next part was what I hated. The ferry travels at a high speed and you’re required to sit in a cabin much like in an aircraft. The awful part is the 45-minute ride spent bouncing up, down, and side-to-side. Once we were back on solid ground, Brett declared it a relaxing trip, like being rocked to sleep in a crib. I considered it a hellish exercise in deep breathing and gag-reflex control.

A representative from the hotel was waiting at the dock to drive us to the Mediterranean Sea View Villa. We’d been planning on getting some scooter practice, but the owners of the hotel weren’t keen on lending any to foreigners who’d never driven a scooter before. Fair enough. Our room wasn’t quite ready as we’d arrived a bit early, so we waited with iced hong cha in chairs facing the sea. Our room was so beautiful! Our balcony overlooked the ocean and we could see Kaohsiung in the distance. The weather was clear and gorgeous so we were relieved to have a cool, tiled room to rest in after the crazy heat outside!

We headed downstairs a bit later for a tour of an intertidal zone. A whole group of us from the Villa waded around the coral looking at sea cucumbers, sea urchins, starfish, crabs, and other creepy crawlies. I got to hold a sea star and Brett really enjoyed taking way too many photos of all the cool scenery. It was very fun!

After the tour we headed back to the Villa for dinner! We had the choice between doing our own cooking BBQ style or being served a variety of local dishes. At Brett’s request we went for the local food and I must admit he made the right choice. A very sweet old man who was acting as a hospitality consultant of sorts at the Villa took an interest in speaking to us in English. He told us he’d lived in Hawaii for quite a while and went around between resorts in Taiwan helping them improve their services. He served us our dinner personally and seemed to take pleasure in describing each dish to us. Our dinner for two included rice, stir fried peppers, cucumber and clams warmed in a garlic ginger sauce, fresh squid, sweet sausage particular to southern Taiwan, and the juiciest sliced mango and pineapple I’ve ever tasted. The dish the adorable old man was most proud of was tuna belly sashimi caught that morning in the fishery just off the coast of the island. It melted in my mouth. I didn’t think I liked sashimi, but I realize now that I just don’t like sashimi made from fish that have been shipped in to the prairies. Big difference! My absolute favourite part of the meal was a platter of spicy prawns. Perhaps because I was so patient all day waiting for Brett to take tons of scenic photos, he peeled the whole lot. Thanks dear!

After we ate our fill, we watched the sunset and then crashed hard. Between the hike on Sunday, our Kenting adventure on Monday, and our intertidal exploration that afternoon, we were exhausted.

The next morning we woke up early and headed downstairs for a delicious Chinese-style breakfast. There was also a big tray of scrambled eggs with corn, ham and garlic which the sweet old man insisted was cooked just for us Westerners - so cute. After breakfast we were given a lift to the Country B&B. It’s a lot closer to everything and made a perfect stop for our second night. We left our bags in the lobby and headed out for the day to explore more of the island! Brett will talk about that in his next post!

Traveler’s Tips:

Xiao Liuqiu or Little Liuqiu is a tiny coral island off the southern coast of Taiwan about 6.8 square km in area. They have an excellent tourism website with information about everything from the island’s history to its hotels, restaurants and recommended photo ops. Because there are not many English speakers on the island, our reservations were made by one of our Chinese-speaking friends. If you have the means to make similar arrangements it’s highly recommended. Resorts and hostels book up quickly for much of the year, so just showing up and hoping to find a place to stay isn’t the best idea.

To get to Xiao Liuqiu from Kaohsiung, we took the MRT to R11 Main Station then went to the Chung Nan bus depot across the street. We just walked up to the counter and said “We want to go to Donggang” (Wo yao dao Donggang), paid NT $180 (about $6 CAD) and hopped on the bus that arrived five minutes later which was clearly labeled “Donggang”. Here’s more information on how to get there.

Once in Donggang, if you say to any local “Xiao Liuqiu?” they will either point you in the direction of the ferry terminal or let the nearest taxi driver commandeer you into his cab. We were told it’s a 10-15 minute walk from the bus to the ferry, but I would suggest you bring a map. If you want a hassle-free experience, I’d shell out for the cab ride. Once at the ferry terminal, it’s easy enough to see the ticket booth and go from there. Remember to take something beforehand if you’ve ever been seasick - it’s a bumpy ride!

The "Mediterranean Sea View Villa" boasted some beautiful views.
The Weather was perfect!
Brett & Amanda
Amanda with a starfish.
Xiao Liuqiu is the only island off the coast of Taiwan made from coral.

We were so excited to eat that we didn't spend any time arranging the food for a better picture.
Amanda enjoying tuna-belly sashimi... caught that very morning.
Sunset from our bedroom balcony.
You could see the Kaohsiung Sky Tower and Shoushan/Chaishan across the South China Sea from our bedroom.
Panorama of the view from our balcony.


  1. Its soooooooooo beautiful,
    thx to took so many nicely pics,
    Taiwan is really a great place,
    I can`t never find it out without ur help!!
    And most important,
    What would you do with me???


  2. Thank you so much for your help, Stanley. I'm glad we can all help each other appreciate the beauty of Taiwan! :)

  3. hello !
    We're three students and we're planning on going to Liuqiu next weekend. We've seen the article you wrote on this island and we really loved the hotel where you stayed. Could you tell us its name again? Because we didn't find anything on the internet under the name of "mediterranean sea view hotel". Thank you!

  4. Hi Aurore,

    The website is...

    Some of the hotels on Xiao Liuqiu are a little bit hesitant to take non-Chinese speaking tourists because they worry that there will be difficulties communicating.

    We had a Taiwanese friend call the Mediterranean Sea Villa and make the reservation for us. They also told us some details about where to go when we got off the ferry and they helped us arrange transport from the ferry to the hotel.

    It is a really beautiful hotel and if you do end up there I'm sure you'll have a great time.

  5. Oh yes, you can also look at the website via google translate...

  6. Hi,

    Nice pictures. Planning to visit Xiso Liu Qiu but read that only scooter is available. I don't have scooter license, is there other mode of transport available. Thanks.


  7. Hi,

    Nice pictures. Planning to visit Xiso Liu Qiu but read that only scooter is available. I don't have scooter license, is there other mode of transport available. Thanks.


    1. Hi Henry,

      It will definitely be much easier to get around if you are able to rent a scooter. Even if you don't have a scooter license, if you have a foreign driver's license and show this to the people who rent scooters when you disembark from the ferry you might get lucky and still be able to rent one.

      Riding the scooter is a different matter. If you can't already ride a scooter, you might not want your first experience to be on Xiao Liu Qiu (it's fairly hilly). Try to get some riding experience in advance if you can. Generally speaking I would definitely recommend trying to get some practice on a scooter as it is the best and most convenient way to get around in Taiwan.

      If this absolutely isn't an option, don't worry! When Amanda and I went to Xiao Liu Qiu, we couldn't yet ride scooters and we just went everywhere by foot. It is a very small island and you can definitely get around on foot, but it will just take quite a lot longer to get places and it won't be as convenient.

      Hope you get to see Xiao Liu Qiu, it is one of Taiwan's many gems!