Guide to outer islands in Taiwan: Penghu, Green Island, and Orchid Island

Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

You may have seen the word “Formosa” appearing in different places when you visit Taiwan. Formosa (福爾摩沙) was the old name of Taiwan and the origin started in the 16th century when the Portugese found the island and called it Formosa, which means beautiful island, as they were blown away by its beauty.

Taiwan, the beautiful island, is blessed with diverse landscape and nature. If you venture beyond Taiwan’s main island, you will discover outer islands that are surrounded by cobalt blue waters, rugged coastlines, and sandy beaches. Explore Taiwan beyond Taipei and the big cities and immerse in the rich culture and heritage of the outer islands. Here’s a guide to the best Taiwan’s outer or offshore islands–Penghu, Green Island, and Orchid Island–for your next trip to Taiwan!


Penghu is the most scenic and massive group of outer islands in Taiwan. The island archipelago is a top summer destination for locals and international travelers.

Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區 consists of over 90 islands (about 20 islands are inhabited) in the Penghu archipelago. The islands stretch 60km north to south and 40km east to west.

Penghu County consists of 1 city and 5 townships: Magong City and the townships are Huxi, Baisha, Xiyu, Wangan, and Qimei. There are 97 villages in these 6 city and townships.

The scenic area is steeped in history and culture and blessed with magnificent ocean views and natural wonders. The islands are perfect for summer fun with their endless coastlines and rich ecology.

Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

Here’s a nice welcome video that introduces the highlights of Penghu!

Penghu is the place I really want to visit for my next trip to Taiwan. Thanks to the help from Penghu National Scenic Area, I have summarized the best things to do Penghu for your island getaway holiday. Check out the top things to do in Penghu below and start planning your Taiwan islands getaway!


Summer is the peak season for Penghu as the islands are bustling with water activities and festivals. Other months are great to visiting Penghu too. Fun activities to do in Penghu every season:

Spring: Cycling along the coastline, island hopping, birds/tern watching, and camping.

Summer: All the marine sports you can think of–diving, snorkelling, SUP, kayaking, and more. And don’t forget island hopping and fishing!

Autumn and Winter: Hiking, cycling along the coastline, wind surfing, and tours focused on the island’s geology, culture, and history.

Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區


A trip to Penghu is full of fun and action as there’s so much to do, see, and experience! Here’s a pictorial summary of the highlights of Penghu.

Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

Check out this teaser video for a preview of what you can enjoy during all four seasons in Penghu!


Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

You have probably seen this iconic photo of Penghu’s twin hearts in the ocean! Yes, this is the famous spot on Qimei Island in Penghu.

The heart-shaped formation is actually man-made stone weirs or stone walls built by early inhabitants of the island. Constructed using natural materials like wood, stone, and even coral reefs painstakingly by fishermen, the stone weirs (or also called fish fences and fish/tidal traps) are designed to trap fishes who swim into the weir with narrow openings when the tide is high and become stuck in the entrapment when the tide falls.

To take the best photo of the twin-hearts stone weirs, climb to the clifftop lookout point. Follow the steep trail down the cliffside for a closer look at the stone weirs. Best time to visit is when the tide is lowest as the twin hearts are most visible.

Qimei is also home to the unique coastal land formation called affectionately by the locals as “Little Taiwan.” Located in Donghu village, the eroded rock platform is created by the forces of nature over time.

Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

2. JIBEIYU 吉貝嶼

Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

Jibeiyu or Jibei Island is the largest island in Baisha township. Its most famous attraction is the “Sand Beach Beak,” which is a sand spit or sand bar formed by sand, corals, and sea shells. This stunning place surrounded by clear blue waters where you can enjoy a variety of marine activities like jet ski, banana boat rides, and even paragliding. The place is very popular with tourists because of the Taiwanese television show “Lovers at Dolphin Bay 海豚灣戀人.” Spend your time exploring the island leisurely, swim, or just lie on the beach for the whole day.

Jibeiyu is also well known for its collection of over 80 stone weirs. You can join educational tours to learn more about the stone weirs and the traditions of fishing on the island. Star-gazing tours are popular for visitors who like to marvel at the starry skies on the beach.

Watch this video for a tour of Jibeiyu and admire the gorgeous beach and ocean! Yes, the waters are really that clear!


Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

This pristine beach in Huxi Township is packed with beach-goers in summer! Indulge in a range of water sports like kayaking and jet skiing.

The beach is popular with couples as it is also known as the “Love Gate Beach” because the sound “ai” sounds like love in Chinese.

The beach was previously polluted due to illegal gravel mining. The elder village Chief “saved” the beach by picking up garbage from the beach and moved shell sands to the beach–basket by basket. The carefully conserved beach is the pride of the Aimen community.


Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

Situated in the south of Magong City, this sandy beach is popular with swimmers and surfers. Soak in the island vibes with Mediterranean influenced architecture and restaurants.


Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

The geopark hosts stunning landforms and sandbars. The iconic S-shaped basalt gravel path emerges during low tide and it looks like it is parting the sea. Hence, the locals call this scenic phenomenon “Moses parting the sea 摩西分海.”


Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

Can you see a whale in the photo? Yes! This is the famous Xiao Men Whale Cave as its outline looks like a whale emerging out of the ocean. The Whale Cave used to be a basaltic cliff. After years of erosion, it is now a sea-eroded arch. Located in Xiyu Township, this outdoor geological classroom showcases diverse geological formations like a lava plateau and rugged cliffs made from different layers of natural materials accumulated over the years.

When you are here, don’t miss out the Xiaomen Geological Discovery Hall, a museum that provides educational information to learn more the relationship between Nature and the Penghu Islands.


Another fascinating natural attraction in Xiyu Township is the Daguoye Columnar Basalt. It is a breathtaking sight to see the vertical basaltic pillars framed by blue skies and waters.


Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

Tongpan Geology Park or Tongpan Island is an impressive landscape that is formed by a series of basaltic pillars. The columns rest on a platform formed by lava that looks like a lotus flower from the top.


Credit: Penghu National Scenic Area 澎湖國家風景區

Penghu is a rich ecological region. During the migration season, different species of birds pass through the area. From end of April to September, it is the season for terns-watching. Find out more about the types of birds you can watch here.

Check out this video about island hopping and bird watching in Penghu!


The islands host a number of festivals throughout the year. Penghu International Fireworks Festival is the show-stopper of the summer. This extravaganza of firework and light and drone shows with the beautiful ocean and beaches as the backdrop is an experience you will never forget.

Another highlight of the summer is the Penghu Music Festival. This year, 2022 Penghu Chasing the Wind Music Festival will be held from August 13 to September 24 and it will feature popular Taiwanese singers.


Penghu Islands, situated in the Taiwan Strait, can help accessed via air and sea transportation. Here’s how you can get to Penghu from Taiwan main island.


Flying is the easiest and fastest way to get to Penghu. The airport in Penghu is called Penghu Airport 澎湖機場. The airport was formerly known as Magong Airport so you may see this name when you are looking for flights. Magong Airport was primarily a military airport built in 1957 and it has gradually expanded as island tourism increased.

There are connections between Penghu and the main airports in Taiwan:

  • Songshan Airport (Taipei) – Flight time about 45 minutes
  • Taichung Airport – Flight time about 35 minutes
  • Tainan Airport – Flight time about 30 minutes
  • Kaohsiung Airport – Flight time about 40 minutes

Two main airlines operate these domestic flights: Mandarin Airlines 華信航空 and Uni Air 立榮航空.

There are two smaller airports on Qimei Island and Wangan Island. You can take plane from Penghu Airport to Qimei Airport. There are also direct flights between Kaohsiung Airport and Qimei Airport and Wangan Airport.

For more information about the flights, check out Penghu National Scenic Area website and the airlines’ website.


Ferries run frequently between Magong Port (Penghu) and ports in southwestern part of Taiwan main island.

From Budai Harbor (Chiayi County): About 1.5 hours. Purchase your tickets here (use BetterOnApp to enjoy 5% off on your first booking on Klook mobile app)!

From Kaohsiung Harbor: About 5 hours

For more information about the flights, check out Penghu National Scenic Area website and the ferries’ website.


The best way to explore the islands is to have your own transportation. This means using rental cars or scooters. Make sure you have your International Driving Permit (for Singaporeans) to rent vehicles and drive in Taiwan.


Taitung’s most popular outer island, Green Island (Ludao or Lyudao) is just 30 km due east of mainland Taiwan. The island was formed long ago by a massive volcanic eruption. The island is packed in summer with visitors eager to dive or snorkel in its clear waters.


Credit: Taitung County Government


Most visitors to the island are day-trippers so they take the early morning ferry out and return in the late afternoon. I strongly recommend that you spend at least one night on the island so you will have enough time to enjoy the sights and try some marine activities without rushing.

How to get around the island? The best way is to rent scooters and ride around the island. If you don’t have a scooter license like me, you have a few options:

a. Rent a bicycle and cycle around the island but it is challenging ride with steep slopes (not for the faint-hearted)

b. Take the round-the-island bus that encircles the island in a clockwise loop. You can get off at any stop/attraction listed on the bus route and catch the next bus (the interval between each bus is about 2 hours). Refer to the website for the bus route and timings.



Credit: East Coast National Scenic Area

Summer is the best time to indulge in marine sports like diving and snorkelling. There are two main spots on the island: Chaikou and Shilang.

Chaikou is suitable for beginners for its gentle waters and gorgeous coral landscape.

Shilang is perfect for both diving and snorkelling. The waters around the area are filled with a variety of colourful corals and fishes.


Credit: Taitung County Government

Other than sea sports, the top attraction of the island is Zhaori Hot Springs, one of the three known saltwater hot springs in the world (the other two are in Japan’s Kyushu Island and Italy’s Mt Vesuvius). Zhaori means “facing the sun” and the hot spring is open in the morning for people who want to soak in the mineral rich waters and admire the sun rising in the horizon.


Credit: East Coast National Scenic Area

Can you spot the outline of a dog and head/face of a woman? If you can, you will understand why this series of rock formations is called the Pekinese Dog and Sleeping Beauty. This stunning bay surrounded by volcanic rocks is called HaiShenPing 海参坪. Stop here for some iconic photos of Green Island’s nature!



Credit: Taiwan Tourism Board

This white lighthouse is an iconic landmark on the island. Standing on the northwest cape of Bitoujiao, Green Island lighthouse shines at night to guide travelers. Climb up about 150 steps to the top of the tower (when it is open) for a bird’s eye view of the island.



Credit: Taiwan Tourism Board

National Human Rights Memorial Museum is an important place on the island to spend some time to understand the history of the island as it was the holding place for prisons and correction centre for political dissidents during the White Terror era. Visit the Green Island Visitor Centre on the way to the museum to get some maps of the island and learn more about the island’s history and heritage

For food and shopping, head to Nanliao street that is lined with souvenir shops and food stalls and remember to try the island speciality – deer meat.




Ezboat, sailing time about 50 minutes. Book ferry tickets here!

The ferry ride is very choppy! At first, I thought people were exaggerating about how ‘rough’ the ferry ride would be. Once the ferry sped out of the harbour, I realised it would be an action-packed ride. I survived two trips to Green Island on ferry so I would like to assure you that you will be ok taking the ferries. Just prepare sea sickness medication. Try not to eat too much before you board the boat (to avoid doing the ‘merlion’).


DailyAir, flight time about 15 minutes

A small propeller plane with only 19 seats. Book your tickets in advance!

Visit the Green Island website for more specifics about transportation. Check out The Occasional Traveller’s useful blog about Green Island.


Orchid Island is a volcanic island that is about 2.8 times bigger than Green Island and it has a more rugged landscape and pristine nature due to its remote location.

The island is home to the native Tao people, also known as Yami, who preserve the culture and custom of their island passionately. The Tao people call their island “Pongso No Tao” which means the “Island of the People” in their language. Orchid Island used to have orchids which were picked to near extinction after WWII. The island is inhabited by a small population of about 5000 distributed among the 6 villages connected by a 37 km road circling the island. The relative isolation of the island has allowed the Tao people to preserve their language and traditions better than other indigenous groups on mainland Taiwan.


Credit: Taitung County Government


Orchid Island deserves at least 3 or 4 days to explore. You can find a range of accommodation in the bigger villages on the east and west coasts. I stayed in Dongqing village in the east coast as the Tao boat rides are available in this village and the village has a nice night market.

How to get around the island? The best way is to rent scooters and ride around the island. If you don’t have a scooter license like me, you have a few options:

a. Rent a car but it is right-hand drive and renting a car is much more expensive than renting a scooter. There are fewer cars available for rental compared to scooters so make sure you reserve your car in advance.

b. Take the round-the-island bus that encircles the island. The bus frequency is quite low and the stops are limited.

During my four-day stay, I rented a car for one day to drive around the island and had “free” rides to some spots near Dongqing Village, which were kindly offered by my accommodation and tour guides.


There are many diving and snorkelling sites around the island. Unless you have local friends joining you for the water activities or you are a very experienced swimmer, you should join a diving and snorkelling for a safe and enjoyable experience.

I booked a snorkelling tour through my accommodation and it included transportation to and from the snorkelling site, equipment, and even underwater photos from the guide. There are a few other secret swimming/snorkelling spots, or the locals call them as mi jing 秘境 , where I had very memorable swims with fishes. However, I am not going to share the locations due to safety reasons. Just ask the locals when you are here and they will share the best places and tips.


There are many uniquely-shaped rock formations decorating the island. The locals give creative names to the prominent landforms like Couple Rock (see below). You can visit the various landforms around the island, get close to nature, and take photos with them.


Fishing is the cornerstone of the Tao way of life. Fishing rituals are observed religiously especially during the flying fish season from February to June. A symbol of the island, the iconic Tao boat constructed using 27 pieces of wood joined together with only pegs is the survival tool and pride of every fisherman.

When the sun rises, the Tao boats along the Dongqing coast are illuminated by the resplendent morning rays. During my stay at Dongqing village, I woke up every morning to catch the sunrise. On very clear days, the view of the sun yolk rising above the boats is very magical and unforgettable.

Nowadays, you can try rowing the Tao boats in Dongqing and Yeyin villages. The local fishermen offer experiential boat rides where you can try out the traditional way of rowing the boat.

The local communities celebrate the Flying Fish Festival with rituals and activities from March to June. If you visit during the festival months, you are in for a spectacular and cultural treat!


The Tao communities thrived in underground houses for many years. The clever architecture of the underground houses sheltered the locals from strong wind and rain, and kept the interiors warm in winter and cool in summer. The underground houses have intricate layout for everyday activities like cooking, washing, sleeping, and more. Join a tour by the local guides to enter the houses and learn more about the Tao community and their way of life.

These days, most of the underground houses that have been preserved are ‘museums’ for visitors to explore (on guided tours). Do not enter any underground houses (or any houses) on the island without permission.


The island is covered by majestic mountains and lush greenery. If you are an avid hiker, you have many hiking spots to choose from. I had a nice morning hike near Dongqing village and made some new friends – Goats! Goats can be found everywhere around the island. These esteemed animals are highly respected by the locals. Say hi to them when you see them! Be careful when you drive as they like to stroll along the roads.


Ferry (Fugang Fishing Harbor or Kending Houbihu to Kaiyun Harbor Green Island)

Ezboat, 2 hours, about NT$920 return. Buy ferry tickets here.

Like the ferry to Green Island, this is a choppy ferry ride. Take sea sickness pills before you board the ferry.

Plane (from Taitung Airport to Orchid Island Airport)

DailyAir, 30 mins, about NT$1,070 return

A small propeller plane with only 19 seats. Book your tickets in advance!

Check out Nick Kembel’s article about Orchid island and the Occasional Traveller’s blog about Orchid Island. I referred to both to plan my trips!


Due to the remote location of the island, the Tao people have been able to preserve their traditions and culture very well. The rich heritage and history of Orchid Island and its communities are what make the island so special. We, who are tourists. are visiting their home and it is very important for us to respect the locals and their way of life.

The Lan An Cultural and Education Foundation 蘭嶼蘭恩傳媒, a local organisation dedicated to promoting the indigenous culture, has produced guidelines for tourists so they can enjoy the island and have meaningful interactions with the local communities.

There are some things that visitors must not do (taboos) as they are offensive or may bring bad luck to the locals. Here’s a list of what I know from my interactions with the locals and this article. Check out the informative video (in Chinese)below for more guidelines!

  • Do not touch the Tao fishing boats as it will bring bad luck to the fishermen
  • Do not not give tangerines to fishermen or ask about their fishing journeys before they set sail to the sea
  • Do not take photos of the underground houses or enter them without permission


This article is a supplement to the virtual travel session “Summer Fun in Taiwan: Guide to Offshore Islandsorganized by Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Singapore. It is a special collaboration between whywendywrites and Penghu National Scenic Area. Watch the video here!

I strongly believe in empowering travelers to know better, travel better! I value privacy and transparency. The article contains affiliate links so I may be compensated to run the website and continue to create content if you make a purchase at no extra cost to you.

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