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Are you looking for a place where the waters are clear, the skies are blue, and countless stars stud the sky at night? Or, would you like to wander through remote and picturesque fishing villages? Then pack your bags and visit the offshore islands of Taiwan!
Taiwan is located along the southeast coast of the Asian continent, on the fault line where the Euro-Asian and Philippine continental plates meet. This unique geographic location and frequent seismic activity not only created an extremely diversified topography and natural environment on Taiwan, but also resulted in the diverse characters of its off-shore islands. Main offshore islands include Penghu, Ludao (Green Island), Lanyu (Orchid Island), Kinmen, Matzu, Turtle Island, and Little Liuqiu. As their locations, topographical characteristics, and human activities differ; each has its own unique scenery and culture. Therefore, each island offers something different to satisfy the various needs of visitors, such as sightseeing, snorkeling, or sport fishing.
The Penghu archipelago is Taiwan's largest offshore island group, situated in the straits that separate Taiwan from China. Penghu is made up of 90 small islands with a combined coastline that stretches more than 320 kilometers. Each season brings its own particular scenery, and rich natural and cultural resources can be found here. The landscape here is characterized by basaltic rocks, coral reefs, sea-eroded formations, and beaches, while the fishing culture and migratory birds add extra dimensions to the picture.
Ludao, also known as Green Island, is located some 33 kilometers off the coast of Taitung in eastern Taiwan. It is a volcanic island where winds blow and waters eat away at the rocks all year round, creating a beautiful and diverse coast.
Lanyu, or Orchid Island, is situated off the southeastern coast of Taiwan; like Ludao, its neighbor to the north, it was raised from the sea by the accumulation of volcanic lava. It has a moist and rainy climate, and its mountain areas (which occupy most of the island) are covered with dense rain forests that are filled with a great variety of plant and animal life. Coral reefs decorate the surrounding seas, and the Japan Current which flows past brings in large numbers of fish. This makes Lanyu a paradise for fishermen and skin divers. The island is inhabited mainly by people of the Yami tribe, the most primitive of Taiwan's indigenous peoples, who still keep much of their traditional culture and lifestyle. Their traditional stone houses were built mostly underground to avoid extremes of temperature as well as the ravages of typhoons. The Flying Fish and Boat Launching festivals are seen nowhere else on earth. In addition to savoring the beautiful island scenery, you can also enjoy a glimpse into the fascinating Yami culture during your trip to Lanyu.
Lying just 2,100 meters off the coast of China at the nearest point, this hilly island is composed mostly of granite and has a history that derives largely from war. It can, therefore, be termed a "battlefield island," and it possesses unique battlefield scenery. Kinmen also contains numerous traces of history, and the government has designated 21 historic sites within its small area. It also has large numbers of houses built in the traditional southern Fujianese three-sided courtyard style, giving it a rich ancient atmosphere.
Situated in the northeast corner of the Taiwan Straits and separated from China by only a narrow strip of water, Matsu, like Kinmen to the south, is also made up largely of granite. Its scenery consists of sea-eroded terrain, natural sand and pebble beaches, sand dunes, precipitous cliffs, and other scenic features. In addition to its beautiful jagged coastline and the migratory birds that pass through Matsu also offers traditional eastern Fujian villages built on mountainsides as well as defensive fortifications built by the military.
【Guishan Island (Turtle Island)】
This small, solitary island located about 10 kilometers off the coast of Toucheng in Yilan County has a volcanic terrain that, from certain angles, looks like a turtle floating in the sea. Among the features of the island are high cliffs, steaming fumaroles, welling underwater hot springs, mountain peaks, sea-eroded caves, a lake, and unique cliff vegetation, as well as rich marine ecological resources. It is a perfect place to study volcanic terrain and the natural ecology.
Lying in the sea about 14 kilometers to the southwest of Donggang in Pingtung County, Little Liuqiu is the only one of Taiwan's numerous offshore islands that is composed of coral. Three special features make this island unique: the finest location for viewing the sunset, the most species of coral, and a terrain made up of coral. Strange coral rock formations stand throughout the island, and its ocean scenery is entrancing. This is a fishing island whose inhabitants are intensely religious; there are many temples here, each with its own unique features and special attractions.
If you are longing for a peaceful holiday on an island, Little Liuqiu should be at the top of your list of choices. Let the clear transparent sea water, blue skies, and interesting local folk customs and cultures entertain your eyes and enrich your mind!