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Taiwan Green Island: My solo traveller’s guide to Lyudao 綠島

One of my favourite places in the world is Lyudao 綠島 or Green Island, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Taiwan. I think of it as one of the prettiest parts of Taiwan, and this tiny island encompasses everything I love about travel – it’s easy enough for me to poke around on my own, a whole lot of natural beauty on display and many surprising things to discover and experience all in one little destination.

I first visited Lyudao back in 2007 as part of my grad trip with my university friends. Back then I was happy to let my friend do all the planning and just tag along, and it ended up being some of the most memorable bits of our trip.

9 years later in 2016 as I embarked on my career break and headed back to Taiwan, Lyudao was definitely on my list of places to revisit. Would it live up to my rosy memories? I was curious to see how Lyudao had changed in almost a decade, and I’m quite glad that while it had definitely modernised – especially compared to neighbouring Lanyu aka Orchid Island that I also visited – a lot of Lyudao remained changed from my first visit. 

So, if you want to head to Taiwan Green Island and see this lovely offshore island for yourself, here’s everything I know to help you get there. For more stories, here’s an article I wrote for the Straits Times about Green Island (ST Paywall – click here if you don’t have a subscription).

Pin it: Everything you need to know to visit Green Island aka Lyudao

Here’s a handy Google Map for you:


How to get to Taiwan Green Island

The journey to Green Island is a little notorious and highly dependent on the weather. The best time to visit Green Island is in Summer around April to June when the weather is generally drier and warm. Later in the year, you’ll run into monsoons around July to August, and winter in general the seas are even more choppy.  

Luckily, Lyudao is located fairly close to mainland Taiwan. The ferry ride takes you just one hour so even if you get seasick, it’s not so dire (unless you are on a particularly pukey boat). There are two ways to get there I’ve listed them here but you can also find more details and contact numbers on the Taitung tourism website.

By Plane

The fastest way to get from the mainland of Taiwan to Lyudao there is by plane, you’ll need to:

  • For International Arrivals or Taipei: Fly from Taipei’s Songshan Airport to Taitung Airport – 50mins
  • For Domestic Flights: Fly from Taitung Airport to Lyudao Airport – 15mins

The only airline that does the Taitung-Lyudao hop is via Daily Air. There are 6 flights in a day, though flights are often cancelled or delayed if the weather is bad, especially during monsoon season. More on their website here (mostly in Chinese).

Taitung-Lyudao Daily Air plane
A Daily Air plane at the Lyudao airport

The planes are really small (19 seaters) and are often fully booked months in advance. What a lot of people do (especially when they are trying desperately to fly off the island) is put their name down on the waiting list for the date they want to leave as soon as they arrive. After that it’s a bit of a waiting game to see if you can get on a flight.

It costs about NT$3,000 (around S$133) in total for a round trip flight, but I’d only recommend this is you are really, really prone to seasickness, as you do save a fair bit as compared to the ferry. Booking in advance is highly recommended to ensure you get a seat.

By Land / Ferry

The ferry ride from Taitung to Lyudao takes a little longer but is a more budget option as it is about half the cost of flying.

  • Get to Fugang Fish Harbour in Taitung – You need to take a taxi or bus from Taitung Train Station
  • Take a ferry from Fugang to Lyudao Nanliao Harbour – 1 hour
Taitung Lyudao Ferry Seats
My view on the 2nd level of the boat – it’s smaller so there’s less people, but it might be more wobbly if you’re sensitive to motion. Note all the plastic bags for all the puking people at the ready

The round-trip ferry ride cost me NT$920 (about S$40). The boats are considerably bigger than the planes so there are more seats and hence a higher chance you can get on a boat last minute as compared to a flight. I bought my tickets directly at the harbour previously, but you can book ferry tickets to Green Island via Klook [affiliate link] now which makes it so much more convenient.

The ferry ride should take about an hour at most, depending on the sea conditions. The first time I took the Lyudao Ferry, I had a combination of really choppy waters and terribly sick people retching all around me in the cabin, so while I wasn’t seasick, it was not a pleasant journey. It’s an enclosed cabin and unfortunately you don’t have the option of going outside.

On my return trip in 2016, I found that the boats had much better air circulation and more comfortable seats, so my journey was (thankfully) quite uneventful. Ferries may also be cancelled if the weather is bad and seas are deemed too rough.

Taitung Fugang Harbour Ferry Me
This is me back in 2007 just before getting on the boat. I was definitely not smiling like that at the end of the ride!

Can you go from Lyudao to Lanyu or vice versa?

My original plan was to go from Lyudao directly to Lanyu and hopefully save myself some ferry time (Lanyu is 3 hours by ferry from Taitung) but the short answer to this question is – don’t count on it. You’ll need to ask the locals or the ticket office if any ferries are making any trips during that period during the busy summer period, but the likelihood is still quite low.

Also the funny thing is that while there may be a chance to go from Lanyu to Lyudao, you can’t get from Lyudao to Lanyu by ferry directly unless you go back to Taitung first.

Updated 2019: Klook now offers a round-trip ferry package [klook affiliate link] that takes you from Taitung/Kenting to Lanyu, then to Lyudao, and then back to Taitung/Kenting again. I’ve not tried this for myself and you do need to indicate the dates of travel, but this would have been so useful for me if they had in back in 2016.


Where to stay on Taiwan Green Island

Taitung Lyudao Sanasai Outdoors
This is not Greece! Love in Sanasai has such a pretty exterior.

I stayed at Love in Sanasai or Sanasai Inn [booking.com affiliate link], which is designed to look a bit like Oia in greece with its blue domes and white walls. I like its proximity to the ferry terminal – even though it’s so close by and I was planning to just walk over, the owner had a sign to greet me and gave me and my backpack a lift back to the hostel on the back of a scooter.

Taitung Lyudao Sanasai Room
Getting a shot of my bed – it’s almost like a pod with its own curtain blinds. There’s a locker in the foot of hte bed that you can’t see from here.

I stayed in the 4-bed girls dormitory which was really comfortable – fixed bunk beds with a lot of headroom, your own cupboard to stash your stuff in and curtains you could pull so it was almost like a cubicle. Also, aircon! Definitely recommended – more here! It cost me 600NTD per night – that’s about S$25 via booking.com.

What’s great was that they had their own electric scooter rental which made it super convenient for me to arrange transport, and they even sold tickets to the hot spring directly.

Check out Love in Sanasai or Sanasai Inn on booking.com [affiliate link]


Getting around Taiwan Green Island

Taitung Lyudao Huandao Road
One main road goes around the island

Lyudao is a really small island, especially if you compare it to the neighbouring Lanyu – you could circle Lyudao in about an hour of continuous riding one main road called the Huan Dao Lu 環島路. I feel the best way to get around the island is by electric scooter as you don’t even need a driving license to rent one, and you don’t have to top up fuel either – just change the battery pack or recharge.

Taitung Lyudao Electric Scooter
Hot tip – don’t ride on sand that’s too soft otherwise you’ll end up spinning your wheels without moving (oops…)

Electric scooters technically have a maximum speed of 40km/h, and you could rent a normal scooter if you wanted to – there are rows and rows of scooters available for rent right outside the Ferry terminal. Cars are also available – we rented one the first time as we were in a group and not all of us could ride. It feels more free to just ride solo on a scooter around the island, so I’d recommend this as the most fun way to get around.

I rented my scooter from my guesthouse at NT$600 per day. It came with a spare battery in the seat and I could swap out the batteries whenever I needed – it was nice not having to pay for fuel.


Things to do on Taiwan Green Island

Lyudao is a small island that I think is great for a little exploration. Here is a list of things to do on Lyudao that I think are worth checking out. I’ll start from the harbour area in the west and move clockwise around the island. Refer to my Google Map on the top of this article for more detailed pins.

WEST 西

Nan Liao Harbour 南寮漁港

If you take the ferry to Lyudao, this will be where you arrive and depart from. If you need to rent a scooter, you can do so just outside the harbour area quite easily.

Taitung Lyudao Nanliao Harbour
Welcome to Lyudao

Nan Liao Village 南寮村

Just north of the harbour area is the main Nan Liao village where you can find food and shops. The 7-11 and Family Mart are along this stretch as well if you want to pick up snacks or find an ATM, and the one petrol station on the island is around here too. There’s a lovely promenade of sorts where you can take a stroll along the water’s edge and admire the view while sitting on wooden benches facing the sea, it’s great for sunset! Most of the times I had meals along this stretch.

Taitung Lyudao Nanliao DaGeGuShi
Prison-related memorabilia is popular because of the island’s history. More on that below

Green Island Airport 綠島機場

Lyudao Airport (GNI) can be found in the north west corner of the island. It’s very tiny and mostly consists of a counter and a security area.

Green Island Lighthouse 綠島燈塔

Just off Chai Kou Village is a road that leads you to the lighthouse area. It’s free to enter, and while you can’t actually climb to the top of the lighthouse as it’s still functional, you do get a nice view of the surrounding area. There is a pretty nice pool right next to the lighthouse, good for a dip!

Taiwan Lyudao Lighthouse
The lighthouse grounds that you can walk into. You can’t climb the lighthouse though
Taitung Lyudao Lighthouse Pool
There’s a really nice pool right next to the lighthouse that you can swim in that’s relatively warmer.

NORTH 北

Chai Kou 柴口

This is a popular spot for snorkelling and diving – I love how you can see the shore and rock pools when the tide is low – there’s a special stone path that you can walk on to prevent harming the rocks.

Taitung Lyudao Chaikou Beach
Beautiful white sand beach

Human Rights Memorial 綠島人權文化園區

Lyudao had an infamous prison that was once used to house political prisoners during the ‘white terror’ period from the 1940s to the 1980s. The jail is now empty and has been transformed into a museum and memorial located in the Lyudao Culture Park area. Look out for the large rock formations around here. This old jail is now empty, instead filled with information boards about its history, as well as life-sized standees of people reenacting life in the jail as you peek through the doorways and windows.

There is still a working jail located near Zhong Liao Harbour – don’t try to enter this area.

Taitung Lyudao General Rock
Look out for the General Rock nearby
Taitung Lyudao Prison Entrance
The entrance – the words on either side of the flag say “I love my country” and “I love my flag”.
Taitung Lyudao Prison Memorial Entrance
You can see a lot of Chinese words and propaganda emblazoned all around the site.
Taitung Lyudao Prison Memorial Doors
Empty cells. Your footsteps echo in the hallways, it’s a little eerie
Taitung Lyudao Prison Memorial Cell Scene
Peeking into one of the cells
Taitung Lyudao Prison Diorama People
Here’s a better look at the lifesize diorama inside one of the larger cells

Huandao Road splits into two here – the rather unpaved road leads you to Swallows Grotto or Yan Zi Dong 燕子洞, which is supposedly an impressive cavern by the seaside. I have no idea why I missed this though – somehow I thought I’d seen it previously but looking at pictures online I actually haven’t! >_< . Regardless, the other fork in the road goes inland and uphill, and will bring you to the eastern part of the island.

EAST 東

Niu Tou Shan 牛頭山

Located in the northeastern corner of the island, the path to Niu Tou Shan is easy to miss – look for a little sign and parking area. You need to park your scooter and then walk on paths and grass towards the coast, where you will be rewarded with some amazing greenery and coastal views.

It is apparently named because if you approach the base of the hill from Gong Guan village 公館村, it looks like a Ox head with curling horns. I missed this area the first time I was in Lyudao and was very glad to discover it this time around.

Taitung Lyudao Niutoushan Wall
Random wall amidst the greenery
Taitung Lyudao Niutoushan Goats
Lots of goats wandering around the island
Taitung Lyudao Niutoushan Peak
Adventurers in the distance
Taitung Lyudao Niutoushan Sunset
Sunset at Niutoushan
Taitung Lyudao Niutoushan Jumpshot
Gotta do that jumpshot

Guan Yin Dong 觀音洞

This limestone cave is pretty small and has a stone Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) statue in it. Personally I don’t think it’s that interesting and that you don’t need to spend that much time here. But legend has is that while lost at sea, some fishermen followed a fireball that led them to safety and to this statue, so they set up an altar here for their offerings.

Taitung Lyudao Guanyin Cave Entrance
Entrance to the Guan Yin Cave
Taitung Lyudao Guanyin Cave
A guide told me that some people see a hidden Mother Mary in the Guan Yin shaped statue here.

You Zi Hu 柚子湖

This abandoned little village is at the bottom of a cliff – you need to ride quite carefully down a very narrow gravel path on your scooter to get to this spot. It’s mostly stone structures left amidst flourishing greenery and a stunning beach and sea view. These ruins are supposed to be prehistoric and many fossils and relics were dug up here, but the village itself isn’t protected in anyway – you are quite free to check them out and I even spotted a rather eye catching graffiti here.

Apparently there is a waterfall nearby which I didn’t know about! This blog post has more info

Taitung Lyudao Youzihu Top
View from the top
Taitung Lyudao Youzihu Graffiti
Where did everyone go?
Taitung Lyudao Youzihu Hut
You can wander and poke around the houses

Hai Sheng Ping 海參坪 / Xiao Chang Cheng 小長城

The Hai Sheng Ping bay is probably my favourite place in Lyudao, mostly because it has an amazing view overlooking the famous Pekinese Dog and Sleeping Beauty Rocks. The path that leads to the viewing towers is called Xiao Chang Cheng, which translates into Little Great Wall. It’s an easy climb though, and I’d take some food along and have a little picnic at the viewing terraces because it’s just so pretty!

Taitung Lyudao Xiaochangchen Path
A short walk up Xiaochangcheng to the pavilion at the end
Taitung Lyudao Xiaochangchen Pavillion
There are 2 viewing pavilions facing the sea
Taitung Lyudao Pekinese Dog Sleeping Beauty
Can you see the Pekinese dog and sleeping beauty? I love how this view hasn’t changed since the first time I saw it

SOUTH 南

Zhao Ri Hot Spring 朝日溫泉

Zhaori is one of my favourite hot springs in the world. This is one of the few saltwater ones by the sea, and commands the most amazing sunrise view if you make your way to the outermost pool. Don’t bother going too early as they will only let you in closer to sunrise, but if you are quick enough you can save yourself a nice scenic spot to soak. Entrance is NT$200 and you can buy it at the door – I got mine directly from my hostel owner the day before though you can buy your tickets at the door as well.

There is a trough where you can cook some food in hot spring water. You can easily buy eggs or vegetables or even prawns from the town, but make sure to bring some extras so you can test out optimal boiling time. I only had 2 eggs and dropped 1 of them >_< You need to soak your eggs for about 12-13 minutes.

Taitung Lyudao Zhaori Sign
Thao Ri translates to “Facing the sun”, which is why this place is perfect for sunrise
Taitung Lyudao Zhaori Pool View
Most of the place is like a swimming complex, just with hot water
Taitung Lyudao Zhaori Sunrise Pool
These pools are further out amidst the rocks and the best place to catch sunrise from
Taitung Lyudao Zhaori Top View
Here’s a top down view from Fanchuanbi next door
Taitung Lyudao Zhaori Egg Trough
You need the net to cook your eggs, bring extras!

Fan Chuan Bi 帆船鼻

This viewpoint is right next to the Hot Springs, so if you rather not pay to enter the Hot Springs, head up here instead. It’s a short climb up some stairs and you have an entire green patch of grass to loll about on.

Taitung Lyudao Fanchuanbi Rock
Right next to the hot springs
Taitung Lyudao Fanchuanbi Stairs
Climb up the steps for a view from the headlands in the south-eastern corner of the island
Taitung Lyudao Fanchuanbi Bunker
Random bunker
Taiwan Lyudao Fanchuanbi Running
Whee!

Da Bai Sha Beach 大白沙

This is what I think is the prettiest beach on Lyudao with lovely white sand, good to just chill out on. It’s also nice for snorkelling and has a long platform like the one in Chai Kou.

Taitung Lyudao Dabaisha Shore
White sand on the shore
Taitung Lyudao Dabaisha Seaweed Shore
Green and slippery!

Experiences on Green Island/Lyudao

Here’s a list of fun experiences you can have on Green Island besides your own exploration.

Snorkelling

Snorkelling is fairly common and easy to arrange. You usually get a wetsuit and snorkel and the guide will pull you along on a floating ring. Or consider renting or bringing your own gear and just heading out on your own to snorkel at Chai Kou or Da Bai Sha Beach

Taiwan Lyudao Chaikou Path
These long stone pathways lead out across the sharp rocks during low tide

Scuba Diving

I managed to find some time to do a little diving here and saw the famous Mushroom Rock while it was still standing. It has since fallen over unfortunately!

It cost me NT$3,650 for 2 dives. Klook has a Green Island diving package for advanced divers and for noobs without a diving license, the discovery diving activity basically involves you being all suited up like a diver, but you don’t get your own fins and an instructor tows you around underwater like a balloon. [affiliate links

Night Tour with a Local Guide

Explore the island by night and check out the wildlife. I did this tour the first time I was here and we basically tailed after a local guide in our car and he introduced us to the local sights including some of the animals like sika deer, frogs and even an endemic stick insect.

Taitung Lyudao Guesthouse Sika Deer
Taitung Lyudao Guesthouse Sika Deer

Eat a local delicacy: Flying fish

Summer is flying fish season and you should definitely order a lovely deep-fried flying fish dish for dinner. Lyudao is also famous for seaweed so make sure to have some when you visit.

Taiwan Lyudao Flying Fish
You eat the whole thing, fins, bones and all! It’s really crispy

I hope this little guide helps you get to Lyudao aka Green Island. It’s definitely seeing more tourists than when I first visited back in ’07, especially during the summer season. But its relative remoteness means that Lyudao still is not crazy crowded and you can find lots of quiet spots to chill out at away from the crowds.

Have you been to Taiwan Green Island? Drop a comment here if you have and share this with your friends that you want to visit Taiwan with.

Taiwan is one of my favourite countries to visit. Check out my other posts for more ideas on things to do in Taitung or in Taiwan, or check out the other Taiwan offshore islands that I visited as well:

Ariena

Saturday 20th of November 2021

Hi! Seeing this post makes me reminisce of my trip to Lyudao in 2017. I took the ferry, which was super duper shakey - everyone on the boat puked. Haha my friends and I were quite shocked and a bit traumatized after. Luckily on the way back from Lyudao to the main island the wave and the turbulence weren't as bad as the previous trip from main island to Lyudao! But it was indeed a memorable experience and the island was so beautiful!!!

Jaclynn Seah

Sunday 21st of November 2021

heh same here, on my first boat ride everyone was puking and it was pretty gross! i think it's definitely improved since though... glad you had great memories! It is one of my favourite spots in Taiwan :)

Mike

Friday 30th of April 2021

I’m on Lyudao right now (April/May 2021). The only ATM is in the Post Office and this is a cash-only economy. I’m guessing the lack of stable internet hinders credit/debit card use.

When I made my B&B reservations I just wired them the payment from my bank account in Taipei.

I spent three days SCUBA diving (10 dives: 8 boat dives and 2 shore dives). I brought all my own equipment and didn’t rent any. The cost for the 10 dives was NT$20,000. That seemed really expensive, but I was diving EANx and it was just me (the price per person drops the more people you have).

My meals ranged from NT$300 for an all-you-can eat BBQ with 1 Taiwan beer to NT$1000 at a Western-style restaurant with 2 cocktails.

I don’t have a scooter license but my B&B provided me with a electric scooter as part of my fees. Top speed was a whopping 23 km/hour! My wife and I rented a car for one day, and that was NT$2000.

The cost for six nights at my B&B was NT$15,000. It was a really nice B&B - new building, very clean, and connected to the dive shop (literally had to walk THROUGH the dive shop to get to the B&B).

A 3-hour guided island tour (one-on-one) was NT$1500.

All in all I guess the entire trip was all together about NT$45,000.

Jaclynn Seah

Saturday 1st of May 2021

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Shuz

Thursday 30th of May 2019

Hello! Thanks for your informative post. May I know if you know the best period to visit Green Island? I'm thinking of visiting in early Nov, thank you!

Jaclynn Seah

Thursday 30th of May 2019

I would say Summer would be the best time to visit Green Island because of the relatively dry weather and calmer seas – The weather is key for getting to/from the island - In bad weather the ferry ride is pretty pukey and ferries/planes get cancelled a lot, which typically happens around Typhoon season usually in July-September so you should miss it, but weather is pretty unpredictable these days... November will probably be cooler so maybe not the most suitable for water activities but walking around and hiking will probably be nice :)

Sam sam

Wednesday 24th of October 2018

Hi I am in Green Island now (Oct 2018) not much update, your information still very relevant. I stayed in the same hotel, and clicked your link hopefully they tracked it somehow. The boat from Taitung was 8am ($460 one way) - ALL price mentioned here is in NTD, the hotel picked us up once we reached the jetty. Went around by electric scooter (still $600) that scooter can take 2 ppl and ride about 50km. Not too bad, enough to get us around the island once, did a very quick ride and only spent the most time at Little Great Wall. I didn't see the Ox Head Hill coz it wasn't that obvious lol.

I went scuba dive, saw a few posts recommend A-Hsi and I contacted them through facebook: 綠島阿禧潛水俱樂部-過日子民宿 . They can speak a little English so you can just chat with them in English directly. I had a blast! I saw 4 green turtles (they said you were lucky to see 1, but I saw 4!!) They just built a new hotel, a little bit pricey for me but the diving package was one of the most worthed probably. It was $1250 for a dive and $600 for gears. As a comparison, the hotel where I stayed offers 'recreational' dive for $2500 and my roommate got hers for $4000 (2 dives). A-Hsi also has diving masks with power (myopia) so I don't need to wear contact lens. The divemaster was amazing too, really recommend them.

I ate one of the restaurants near 7-11. Yes they have 7-11 and other facilities. I love the food here, they have a lot of variety, if you come in a big group you can try a lot of delicious dishes, a typical chinese round table dinner, with deer meat (not from the wild deer in the island, thank goodness! looks like all food came from Taiwan mainland) sashimi, seafood, tuna, you name it! And if you travel solo, there are a few places selling food under $100

I went for a night tour, saw 1-2 deer, those native insects and that's it lol!! It wasn't bad for $100 (purchased from the hotel) although I wish I can see more deer. You use your own scooter to go for this tour, but if you don't rent scooter they will bring you on their scooter anyway.

Overall it was nice, worth a visit. I got lucky cos the weather was sunny when I came, it was raining in the past few days and today it is raining as well. I spent a night here, in a dorm $720 , got last2 minute deals from b o o k i n g . c o m usually it is $800. Hope it helps! and thank you Jaclynn for your blog.

Jaclynn Seah

Wednesday 24th of October 2018

thanks for sharing your experience and found the blog useful! :) man I want to go back again...

Terence Parker

Monday 3rd of September 2018

Hi there - great post!

I'll be in Taiwan for a couple of weeks in December, and contemplating Lyudao. In particular the salt water springs catches my attention, though can't help but notice a few negative comments about them on TripAdvisor (run down, temperature controls a bit off etc.). However latest comment was Dec-2016. Was your experience different? Maybe they improved?

Thanks!

Jaclynn Seah

Monday 3rd of September 2018

Hi! Well I was last there in May 2016 so I'm not sure how they compare now, but most of my time was spent in the seaside pools and personally I found them pretty decent :)