in the Hometown of Green Sea Turtles
Destination Recommendation Rate: ★★★★☆
Despite its climate ranges from tropical to subtropical, Taiwan is deeply affected by monsoon in both summer and winter season. Thus, the ocean waves are unstable from time to time, sometimes making the coastal waters unsafe for freediving. This means that a tropical Formosa like Taiwan are not open for diving activities all year round, however, an offshore island situated in Southwest from the main Taiwan island is a perfect exception. Due to its geographical location, the overall ocean condition in Liuqui Island is fine for most of the water recreations. Diving sites here is diverse as well as being flooded with Green Sea Turtles. For those pursuing for depth, here is a training paradise. Nonetheless, the water visibility is not clear as most of the beach here is sandy. With a mild current, the water gets murky immediately. In winter, the water temperature is at around 22°C (71.6°F) during winter, and is about 30°C (86°F) during summer. For transportation, accommodation, and food services, Liuqui Island ranks the top among Taiwan’s major four offshore islands. Liuqui Island is certainly an economical destination with high value for freedivers.
Freediving Sites in Liuqui Island
A total of 10 sites for freediving in Liuqui Island are labeled in the map. This article will introduce four sites as the rest of the sites are to be explored by myself in person.
SanFu Ecological Corridor (Ship Wreck)
Depth: 16-20 meters (52-66 feet)
The ship wreck itself is not difficult to dive down, but the way to reach it is definitely challenging. We walked down to seashore from the ecological corridor. The coastal area is full of sea urchins, so we walked north a bit more and then go into the sea. The waves here are fierce; my diving buddy and I were knocked down by the waves for several time, and my buddy even lost her fin and snorkel. This is the very spot where people can always find diving equipment lost by other freedivers. Therefore, be extra vigilant when moving outside to the sea.
After successfully being into the sea, then freedivers should turn south and kicking for about 600 meters to find the SanFu ship wreck. Now comes the second challenge, as there is no positioning reference, so it really depends on those who are with experiences to find the spot, or, you may look for where a scuba diving boat anchors itself.
The top of the ship wreck is 16 meters deep, and the bottom is at a depth of 20 meters. The whole wreck ranges about 15 meters long. The visibility here is not stable, so it is suggested not to leave the guide rope too far away, letting your buddies easier to watch out for your safety.
The bottom is sandy so we attached the guide rope to the wreck; it is easy to handle. If the weather and visibility is good, we could have a wreck cave diving but we didn’t out of safety concern. Given the efforts to reach here, I would say it is much better to check the weather condition first and then choose a particularly nice day to visit.
SanFu Harbor (Spotted Garden Eel)
Depth: 10-12 meters (32-40 feet)
This site is very easy to reach and find. The only downside for this site is that strong current occurs frequently, so it takes more energy to kick to the site where those spotted garden eels hide.
It is said that these tiny eels usually live in the all white sandy bottom, so we kept looking for them by lying on the sand and stay still, but unfortunately we found nothing. Maybe we should take some crumbs to allure them next time.
Since we can’t find any eel, we started to have fun by ourselves, making a freediver chain underwater. It turns out a mess. Got to practice more.
Houshi Fringing Reef
Depth: 5-20 meters (16-66 feet)
This reef is situated outside the petite, gorgeous bay. Freedivers who ride scooters could easily park in front of this beach, walk down, and start diving.
The water surface here is extraordinary. When it reflect sunshine, it becomes the blue that only exists in our dreams.
The Ocean has its silent caves, Deep, quiet, and alone; Though there be fury on the waves, Beneath them there is none. The awful spirits of the deep Hold their communion there; And there are those for whom we weep, The young, the bright, the fair. Calmly the wearied seamen rest Beneath their own blue sea. The ocean solitudes are blest, For there is purity. The earth has guilt, the earth has care, Unquiet are its graves; But peaceful sleep is ever there, Beneath the dark blue waves. —The Ocean By Nathaniel Hawthorne
Many marine species could be find here, but the day we came offered awful visibility for taking nice underwater pictures; otherwise, here is a good site for photo shoot. We also had some freediving training here as the water is quite calm.
Beauty Cave (Drift Dive to Vase Rock)
Depth: 5-15 meters (16-49 feet)
It is said that more than a hundred green sea turtles are dwelling in Liuqui Island and this site boasts most of the sea turtles. The sea turtles here are not afraid of human, and even snorkelers or swimmers could easily spotted these sea turtles in the shallow area of the coast.
The waves are intense here, and it takes a bit technique to smoothly go down to the sea. (Beginners may be pushed back to the shore by those waves.) Our original plan was to drift dive from here to Vase Rock, but the water was static on that day so we dived around the sea turtles instead.
The wave created an effect like washing machine, many sea turtles were rolling like clothes.
Also, many migratory fish can be found around this area. Hopefully next time I could experience drift dive here.
Souvenirs from Liuqui Island
Anything pertain to Green Sea turtles are made to be souvenirs, ranging from fluffy dolls to stickers to key rings.
But the most special one certainly goes to twisted roll, a traditional Taiwanese cracker made of flour, sugar, yeast powder, and vegetable oil. It becomes special local product in Liuqui Island because of its convoluted shape. Most of the local families reply on distant fishery, and making knots are one of their routine tasks. Twisted roll becomes a symbol to honor their livelihood.
Another souvenir I got is sea sickness. I had been staying away from water for almost three months, the waves and current in winter made me really sick.
Liuqiu Island, Pingtung County, Taiwan
Total land area: 6.8 square km
Population: +/-13,000 people
Distance from Taiwan mainland: 15 kilometres
It is one of Taiwan’s largest coral islands
One of the only places in Taiwan where you can spot green sea turtles
There are 8 villages on the island.