Xiao Liuqiu

In Beaches and swimming spots, Coastal Scenery, Geological curiosities, History, Natural history, Outlying Islands, Pingtung County by Richard2 Comments

On the maze of paths in Beauty Cave Scenic Area

The island is described in detail on pages 229-242.

It’s only two-and-a-half years since my first visit to the little island of Xiao Liuqiu, fifteen kilometers off the west coast of Taiwan in the far southern county of Pingdong, but what a difference that short time has made!  Our first trip there in April 2009 (with my pet Golden Retriever, Gem, in tow) revealed a quiet and enchanted landscape  of uplifted coral formations, almost unique in Taiwan (only the interior of Kenting National Park and a few places in nearby Kaohsiung County have anything like this).

Rock formation in the Beauty Cave Scenic Area

Trails lead through the weird coral labyrinth near Black Dwarf Cave

Xiu Liuqiu is as enchanting as ever – or at least the three main Scenic Areas (Mountain Pig Gully, Beauty Cave and Black Dwarf Cave) are. What seems to have changed are the sheer numbers visiting at weekends. Arriving on a normal (2-day) weekend in mid October, we were shocked by the vast numbers of local tourists on the island with us, and it was a far from quiet stay this time. A word with our homestay owner confirmed that this wasn’t an unusually busy weekend either!

A Thread of Sky is a narrow crack in the coral cliffs several hundred meters long, in Mountain Boar Gully Scenic Area

The White Lighthouse crowns the highest hill on the island, a modest 60 meters above sea level!

Exploring the extraordinary coral cliff formations is probably the main attraction of a visit to Xiao Liuqiu

Despite the crowds that descend on the island’s beaches at the weekends, Xiao Liuqiu is a so-so beach destination (head to Penghu, or perhaps Green island and Beigan (in Matsu) for much better ones). The finest is probably the one just to the east of the main ferry port on the north of the island, but you’ll be disappointed if you come here just to lay on the sand! That said, if you can avoid the crowds and the huge coaches that – astonishingly – have been allowed on the island’s narrow roads , Xiao Liuqiu has an amazingly relaxing vibe, and a couple of campsites on the west coast look rather idyllic.

The Vase Rock, the most famous coral formation on the island, lies close to the main village

On the evidence or our visit, it’s best to try to schedule  a trip to Xiao Liuqiu on a weekday, to avoid the incredible crowds.  It’s also worth severely limiting your time in the interior of the island, most of which (apart from two interesting and exuberantly colorful temples)  looks just like any other rather chaotic, unsightly small village in Taiwan. Instead stick to the beautiful west coast, and Xiao Liuqiu offers a surprising range of exploration opportunities for such a tiny island, and some quite unique landscapes. Get off the main paths in Beauty Cave Scenic Area, especially, into the labyrinth of clefts through the jagged coral, and it’s almost otherworldly.

Two of the few abandoned military lookouts on Xiao Liuqiu have been opened to the public, and although not nearly as interesting or large as the ones on Kinmen and (especially) Matsu, are fun to explore

Beauty Cave Scenic Area

Lobster Cave, on the east coast of the island

In Black Dwarf Cave Scenic Area

For more photos, taken in better weather on my first trip to Xiao Liuqiu, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29712358@N04/sets/72157619027574632/

Comments

    1. Author

      There are loads in Xiaoliuqiu. I like Haijing Homestay, in a restored Sanheyuan house well out of the town (08) 861 1318, but there are plenty of others; try the website devoted to the island (there’s an English version; look under ‘Little Liuqiu’)

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