The best snorkeling spots in Taiwan

With a total coastline of 970 miles/1550 km, there are many beautiful places to snorkel all over Taiwan, on all of its coasts and offshore islands. Here’s a guide to the best snorkeling locations for your next trip to Taiwan!

Aerial view of Liuqiu Island
Aerial view of Liuqiu Island. Just left of the harbor breakwater is Zhongao Beach, a popular snorkeling location where it is easy to swim with sea turtles.

Snorkeling on Taiwan’s main island

Kenting National Park (墾丁國家公園) is considered the best snorkeling area on Taiwan’s main island. Located at the southern tip of the island, it features protected coves and bays, and has good conditions for snorkeling. Several of these locations are found on the shoreline between South Bay and Cape Eluanbi, the Southernmost Point of Taiwan. They are South Bay (南灣遊憩區), Shiniu Beach (石牛溪海灘), Lovers Beach (情人灘), as well as the Shadao Ecological Preserve (砂島生態保護區) where sea turtles are a common sighting. The Houbihu Marine Protected Area, which can be snorkeled from the small beach nestled south of the nuclear plant outlet, is also a good option.

In the North of Taiwan, Long Dong (龍洞), aka The Dragon Cave, is the top snorkeling location. Its shallow rocky beds, very sheltered from the open sea, are home to  many interesting fish and invertebrates.

Green sea turtle in Zhongao Beach, Xiaoliuqiu
A green sea turtle in Zhongao Beach, Xiaoliuqiu.

Snorkeling in Liuqiu Island/Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球)

Xiaoliuqiu, a tiny island that is a short ferry ride from Kaohsiung, is considered to be Taiwan’s best area for snorkeling. Also called Little Liuqiu, Lamay Island, or Lambai Island, it is the only coral island in Taiwan with a significant human population. Fringing reefs, home to vibrant sea life and approximately 200 resident green sea turtles, run all along the island’s shore, making it easily accessible for all skill levels to encounter underwater life.

Zhongao Beach (中澳沙灘), at the edge of Baishawei Fishing Harbor, is very easy to access. North of the Island, you can also explore Beauty Cave (美人洞) or Vase Rock (花瓶石). Both of these areas are poor in coral but rich in reef fish. Other good options for snorkeling in Xiaoliuqiu are Lobster Cave (龍蝦洞), a narrow rocky split with dramatic drop-offs, as well as Secret Beach (厚石魚澳), although this area is particularly crowded. Green sea turtles can be spotted at all these locations, but they are particularly abundant and easy to spot at Beauty Cave (美人洞) and Zhongao Beach (中澳沙灘).

Shilang/Vase Rock snorkeling location, Green Island
Shilang/Vase Rock snorkeling location, on Green Island’s western coast.

Snorkeling in Green Island (綠島)

A small volcanic island located 20 miles off the eastern coast of Taiwan, Green Island is another must-visit area for Taiwan snorkeling enthusiasts. The island has three main snorkeling areas that are filled with abundant sea life: Chaikou (north shore), Da Bai Sha (or Dabaisha, southwest shore) and Shilang (western shore, just south of Nanliao Fishing Harbor). These three locations have easy shore access from concrete docks. They are good places to spot reef fish, including several species of anemonefish. In Shilang, you will also see the famous Green Island Underwater Postbox.

Although it may sound unusual, you can also snorkel in several fishing harbors around Green Island. The most visited is Zhonliao Fishing Harbor in Lüdao, a very sheltered, popular swimming and snorkeling area. Gongguan Fishing Harbor, just 1.5 miles east of Zhonliao, is also a good option. There is no coral here, but there are plenty of fish and occasional sea kraits to see.

Chaikou snorkeling dock, Green Island
Chaikou snorkeling dock, Green Island.

Snorkeling in the Penghu Islands (澎湖)

The Penghu Islands or Pescadores Islands is an archipelago of 90 islands and islets located off the west coast of Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait, less than 30 miles from the southwest coast of Taiwan. You can get to the islands by plane from several cities in Taiwan, or by ferry from Budai.

Magong, the archipelago’s main island, has decent shore snorkeling locations, but we advise you to join an island hopping boat tour to explore more remote and preserved islands. Expect healthy coral reefs, giant clams, butterflyfish, as well as moray eels, and the occasional sea turtles.

What will I see while snorkeling in Taiwan?

Taiwan waters are home to a diversity of corals, including almost 250 species of hard corals, soft corals and sponges. However, the island’s coral reefs, including the biggest coral reefs located near Kenting, Green Island, and Orchid Island, have been damaged by a severe bleaching episode in 2020. It is thought that nearly a third of Taiwan’s coral reefs have irreversibly died.

Green sea turtle in Zhongao Beach, Taiwan
If you dream about swimming with sea turtles, then Liuqiu Island is the place to go. Here, a green sea turtle in Zhongao Beach.

Even if the conditions of reefs in Taiwan is variable, snorkelers can still spot fascinating sea life in the shallows. Xiaoliuqiu, in particular, is a green sea turtle’s haven. It is estimated that nearly 200 turtles live in the tiny island’s shore waters. Sea turtles sightings are almost guaranteed at some locations, such as Beauty Cave (美人洞) and Zhongao Beach (中澳沙灘).

Taiwan is also a good location to spot reef fish. Among the most abundant fish at snorkeling depths are pufferfish, Pacific lionfish, Moorish Idols, several species of butterflyfish and damselfish, as well as small moray eels. Two species of anemonefish are also pretty common: the tomato clownfish and Clark’s clownfish. If you are lucky, you may occasionally spot stingrays, sea kraits, or reef squids while snorkeling over the reefs.

What is the best time of the year to snorkel in Taiwan?

In Taiwan, the climate is subtropical, except at the southern tip of the island, which is tropical. Winters (from November to March) are sunny and mild, while summers (from June to September) are hot and rainy. Taiwan is also affected by seasonal monsoons and by typhoons from late summer to early fall. It is then considered the best period to snorkel in Taiwan is from May to July, which offers warm temperatures and sunny skies.

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