This year, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau is highlighting the country’s marine tourism assets as part of its “Year of Bay Tourism 2018” initiative. A key focus of this campaign is to promote Taiwan’s lesser-known collection of topographically-diverse off-shore islands which offer holidaymakers white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, a variety of wildlife, fascinating history, and colorful culture.
Located on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, Taiwan has over 1,500 km of coastline and more than 10 percent of the world’s marine species. Much of this coastline and marine life can be found on Taiwan’s scattered collection of off-shore islands. As part of the Year of Bay Tourism 2018, Taiwan Tourism aims to heighten public awareness of the need for sustainable development and protection of marine environments.
Designated a National Scenic Area by the central government, the Penghu Islands off the west coast of Taiwan are a collection of reefs, islets, and shoals that offer almost 194 miles of beaches and waters. The warm waters are home to an array of tropical fish, marine plants, and coral reefs, and also offers windsurfing and kitesurfing. The area is also home to the Historical Village, which is a series of quaint, stone structures that have been in Penghu for centuries. The island is also famous for its double-heart of stacked stones, an ancient fishing method that began more than 700 years ago.
Situated off the east coast of Taiwan, Ludao, or Green Island, boasts an abundance of tropical fish and the world’s largest living coral head at 4 meters wide and almost 2 stories high. This volcanic island is also home to the Zhaori Hot Springs, one of only two known natural saltwater hot springs in the world.
Lanyu, or Orchid Island, is Taiwan’s furthest outpost off the southeastern coast. Its rugged mountainous terrain is covered in lush rain forests full of flora and fauna, including a series of special birds – the Lanyu Scops Owl, Taiwan Green Pigeon, and the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher. The island also has a rich cultural history as it is mainly inhabited by the Tao, Taiwan’s purest aboriginal tribe, whose traditional heritage has remained largely preserved.
The northernmost limit of Taiwan, Kinmen, lies just over 2 km from mainland China and is known for its quiet villages, old-style architecture, and rich military history. Often referred to as the “battlefield island,” the government has designated 21 historic sites within its small area, which was the site for much of the Cold War struggles during the Chinese Civil War.
Like Kinmen, the former military base of Matsu on the Taiwan Strait has much history to uncover, as well as scenery that features sea-eroded terrain, natural sand and pebble beaches, sand dunes, and precipitous cliffs. Visitors can explore traditional Fujian villages built into the mountainsides, abandoned fortresses, tunnels, and even a bird sanctuary on the island. In addition to birdwatching, Matsu is home to some of Taiwan’s famous swallowtail butterflies, and from late May to September, the shore glitters with glowing algae known as “Blue Tears.”
Guishan and Liuqiu
Guishan Island, located about 10 km off Taiwan’s northeast coast, is often referred to as “Turtle Island” because of its volcanic terrain that appears like a turtle floating in the sea. The island is known for dolphin and whale watching, however, holidaymakers have to apply to visit in order to control tourism numbers to protect the natural vegetation. Just off Taiwan’s southwest coast is the coral island of Liuqiu, which is primarily a fishing island with 300 different fish species and 20 kinds of coral.