Snorkeling with Turtles in Xiaoliuqiu Lambai Island, Taiwan

Since visiting several years ago, Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球, or also known as Lambai Island), has quickly become a favorite hidden getaway of mine. Every year I head down, either with friends or on a solo-trip to get away from the busy and wet city, into the quiet seaside island.

With clear, beautiful oceans filled with sea turtles, and cooler weather, the small island off the south of Taiwan is a favorite for those looking to snorkel, relax on quiet sands, and enjoy.

Quick Jump

  1. How To Get To Xiaoliuqiu
    1. 🚄 HSR Ticket discounts
  2. Where To Stay in Xiaoliuqiu
  3. Scooter Rental at Xiaoliuqiu
  4. Snorkeling With Turtles
    1. Zhonggao Beach (中澳沙灘)
    2. Secret Beach (厚石魚澳)
  5. Complete Xiaoliuqiu Itinerary
    1. ☀ Other things to do in Xiaoliuqiu

How To Get To Xiaoliuqiu

Taipei Main Station (Taipei) -> Zuoying Station (Kaohsiung) -> Dongliu Ferry Terminal (Kaohsiung) -> Baishawei (Xiaoliuqiu)

Getting to Xiaoliuqiu takes a couple of stops. Starting in Taipei, we HSR’d down to Kaohsiung, before taking an hours cab ride to the port, and then finally a 20 minute ferry ride to Xiaoliuqiu.

We were a group of 8 coming from Taipei. In the early hours of the morning, we gathered at Taipei Main Station, warming up with 7-11 coffee, before picking up our tickets at the station.

  1. Taipei to Kaohsiung (Zuoying Station)

Reserving your HSR tickets
For Taiwan nationals, we reserved our tickets on the HSR website. I really recommend booking over a week in advance as seats run out fast, especially for key times such as mornings heading South, or afternoon/evenings heading back to Taipei. They cost ~2980nt for a roundtrip ticket, but it’s the fastest (and most comfortable) way South.

🚄 HSR Ticket discounts

Once aboard, it was a swift two-hour ride to Kaohsiung.

  1. Kaohsiung Zuoying HSR Station to Dong Gang Port

Kaohsiung’s HSR station is situated a little ways away from Kaohsiung city. You can take the mrt into the city then cab into the port where you’ll take the ferry to Xiaoliuqiu. But since we were a big group, we split a large cab, which cost about 200nt each.

  1. Dong Gang Port to Xiaoliuqiu

At the port, there are two ferry companies, a public and private version. They’re almost the same price, so buy your tickets according to the times you’d like to arrive. We got the 390nt round trip tickets with the private service, as it offered more times.

Landing in Xiaoliuqiu port. Photo by @matthiasrossini

Where To Stay in Xiaoliuqiu

We stayed at Moon Star Villa, a beautiful mosaic-tiled building near the port. In just a 10-minute walk from the port, we were at the villa, checked in, and ready to head to the beach. I can’t recommend this place enough, the rooms were gigantic, including their mosaic balconies, the beds super comfortable, and there’s a pool with a mermaid.

Other places to stay in Xiaoliuqiu

Scooter Rental at Xiaoliuqiu

Our scooters took us around the island multiple times. Here, we parked at the South of the island to admire the sunset.

On our first day, we thought we would explore the island by foot as it’s only 5km from end to end. On Google Maps it suggested it would be an hours walk. What we later found out was that while it seemed short, there are a couple major hills that take you up half a km incline. The next day we rented scooters by the port. You can rent scooters here.

Snorkeling With Turtles

Once checked in, we looked for a beach near our hotel, and ended up at Zhonggao Beach. Tucked behind an elementary school, the stretch of sand was mostly empty. There were some kayaks and ocean bikes lined up on the side, but no-one manning them, and unsure where to rent, we dove in with the snorkels we rented from the island.

I would recommend buying your snorkels before traveling so you can use them as much as you want without worrying about rentals.  The ones I used were from Decathalon Taipei and cost the same as a day’s rental.

Zhonggao Beach (中澳沙灘)

Zhonggao beach has a larger stretch of sand, and wide coral area where you can find turtles swimming. Make sure to not disturb them.

Zhonggao beach is accessible by foot or scooter. You can walk through the school or through a path from the port. There’s also parking right by the sand.

Secret Beach (厚石魚澳)

Beautiful aerial shot of ‘Secret Beach’. Photo by @bryzr
When we went before 2020, the beach was usually this empty. Now you’ll find it much more popular.

Secret beach was actually much more well-known than Zhonggao beach, despite it’s name. Right by the entrance you’ll find a sausage stand and a couple renting out snorkeling equipment you can use until sunset. The beach had more groups of snorkelers, so you can follow them out and not be out in the ocean alone.

Things to note:

  • Please wear marine-friendly sunscreen as you will be swimming in close proximity with a lot of sealife, including turtles!
  • Bring a light jacket as it might get a little cold during the evenings, or when scootering around.
  • Wear a helmet while scootering, even though it may seem like majority of people don’t. It’s better to be safe than sorry especially in unfamiliar roads.

Complete Xiaoliuqiu Itinerary

Our full actual itinerary of what we did day by day in Xiaoliuqiu.

Editable Google Sheet Itinerary: Xiaoliuqiu itinerary with map, things to do, and living

☀ Other things to do in Xiaoliuqiu

Kayak Xiaoliuqiu
Submarine Ocean Adventure Xiaoliuqiu
Scuba Diving Xiaoliuqiu

Leave a comment below if you spotted a turtle in Xiaoliuqiu.

One response to “Snorkeling with Turtles in Xiaoliuqiu Lambai Island, Taiwan”

  1. […] has an inexhaustible list of places to visit, from hiking in Taichung, drinking tea in Alishan, to swimming with turtles in Xiaoliuqiu. Make sure you book your transportation ahead of […]

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