Green Island, or Lyudao (綠島), is a tiny volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean just 33km off the eastern coast of Taitung and one of Taiwan’s most beautiful offshore islands.
Covering an area of roughly 15.09km², Green Island is filled with the most incredible natural scenery imaginable, both on land and underwater. It’s home to some of the most stunning coral reefs in Taiwan, and on land, you can wander along grassy hills and get up close to rock formations that will make you feel like you stepped foot in Jurassic Park.
If you’re planning your first trip to Taiwan’s dreamy “Fire Island,” here’s everything you need to know about visiting Green Island in Taiwan!
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Travel Tips for Visiting Green Island, Taiwan
Before we dive into what to do on Green Island, here are a few quick tips to help you plan the perfect Lyudao trip:
- Some of Lyudao’s accommodation options are a bit dodgy, so if you want to stay in a decent place, it’s best to search for the best hotels on Green Island well in advance. It’s also a good idea to book a room with a free cancellation policy. Also, keep an eye on the weather forecast, as ferry departures depend on the weather conditions.
- Book ferry tickets online a few weeks in advance to guarantee you have a seat.
- Green Island is a popular spot for all kinds of water activities, like snorkeling, scuba diving, and stand-up paddle boarding. Book a water excursion in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Make sure you have Google Translate and Google Maps downloaded on your phone for a smooth trip. This guide on the best travel apps for Taiwan will also be useful.
- If you don’t have a local Taiwanese bank account, bring enough cash for your trip. Only two ATMs are on the island (at the Post Office and the Taitung Area Farmer’s Association). Neither of them accepts international cards.
- Ask your accommodation for a tourist map, or grab one at the Lyudao Visitor Center.
How to Get to Green Island in Taiwan
Getting to Green Island is a bit of a mission, but don’t let that stop you because the effort will be more than worth it!
Flying to Green Island
The easiest way to get to Green Island is to fly from Taitung Airport (TTT) to Green Island Airport (GNI). The flight only takes 20 minutes, and there are several departures daily. However, you should know that the airplane is tiny, and seats sell out quickly. For more details on schedules and prices, visit Daily Air’s official website.
Taking the Ferry to Green Island
The most popular way to get to Green Island is to take the ferry from Fugang Fishing Harbor (富岡漁港), just outside Taitung City, to Nanliao Harbor (南寮漁港) on Green Island.
Several ferry companies (Triumph, Uranus, Green Island Star, and Golden Star) sail from Fugang Harbor, but the prices are the same no matter which company you use. We sailed with two different companies, and both rides were smooth and comfortable.
Although booking tickets directly from these companies is possible, it’s much easier to book a return ticket online via Klook. That’s what I did. The ferry to Green Island sails at 9:30 and 13:30 and returns to Taitung at 10:30 and 14:30. The ride takes about 50 minutes.
Note that the boats don’t sail in bad weather, which means schedules could change from time to time. It’s also good to know that the tickets aren’t open-ended for seven days like for Xiaoliuqiu. Therefore, consider booking a single journey ticket if your plans aren’t fixed yet.
Make sure to arrive at the ferry terminal at least 40 minutes before the boat leaves. Bring your ID card or passport to redeem your ticket. Oh, and remember to take medication if you suffer from seasickness.
Travel tip: If you combine your Green Island trip with a few other gems along Taiwan’s southern coast, you can also sail from Houbihu Harbor in Kenting.
Getting from Taipei to Green Island
To get to Green Island from Taipei, you first need to get to Taitung. The fastest way to do that is to hop on an express train (TZE-Chiang, Puyuma, or Taroko) to Taitung Train Station. Note that you can’t use your Easy Card on these trains, so reserve a ticket online in advance to guarantee you have a seat. Easily check train schedules and prices on the TRA app and buy tickets online on the TRA website or in person at any train station. Train tickets can be booked up to 28 days in advance. Catching a train from Kaohsiung, Hualien, or Yilan is also possible.
Once you’re at the Taitung Train Station, you’ll need to get to Fugang Harbor. The easiest way to do that is to hop in a yellow taxi. A taxi costs around TWD 310-350 and takes about 20 minutes to reach the harbor. Alternatively, Shing Dong bus 8109 and Luhaikong Express A bus can also get you there.
When to Visit Green Island Taiwan
Like the rest of Taiwan, Green Island has a subtropical climate, so it’s pretty much hot and humid throughout the year.
The best time to visit Lyudao is from April to October. During these months, the water is perfect for snorkeling and diving, and the weather is mostly hot and sunny, allowing you to really soak up the island vibes. Watch the weather forecast, as typhoons aren’t uncommon between July and September. Although possible, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Green Island during the colder months (November to March), as ferries often get canceled due to bad weather.
Where to Stay on Taiwan’s Green Island
Despite its size, Lyudao has a whole host of accommodation options to match any travel style and budget.
There are a couple of different areas to stay on Green Island, each with its own unique vibe. These include Nanliao Village, Chaikou and Gongguan. However, you should know that most of the island’s accommodation options are a bit sketchy. If you care about aesthetics, best to search for a room at least 3-4 weeks in advance.
To be right in the thick of things, the best place to stay is Nanliao Village. It is just a short walk from the harbor, and you’ll have lots of shops and eateries right on your doorstep.
- We stayed at Green Island Good Sound, just a few minutes walk south of the harbor. The room was spacious, and the staff was friendly and helpful. The breakfast wasn’t great, but the the spacious patio with onsite bar was the perfect spot to relax with an ice-cold beer while looking at the ocean.
- If you’re on a budget, try the super laid-back Slow Island Hostel.
- And if you want to splurge, try Hijau. Note their website is only in Chinese.
For those who prefer to experience a quieter slice of Green Island, try Chaikou Waterfront or Tube 18. Just know that there are fewer shops and eateries here, so you might still need to go to the main village for more choice.
Need more options on where to stay on Green Island? Check more listings here with Agoda.
How Long to Stay in Green Island, Taiwan
Lyudou is tiny, and you can drive around the island in as little as an hour. However, don’t let its size fool you. Green Island is incredibly beautiful, and there are loads of awesome things to do and see.
Most people visit Green Island on a 3-day getaway, and while three days are enough to see the main sights and work in some water activities, you’d really be missing out if you didn’t stay longer.
If your itinerary is flexible, I recommend spending at least 3-5 days on the island. That way, you’ll get to see all its best bits, tackle a few hikes, make a few scuba diving or snorkeling trips, and still have time to chill at the beach!
How to Get Around Green Island, Taiwan
The easiest way to get around Green Island is by scooter. Most of the island’s scenic spots are accessible via Huandao Road, a 20km round-the-island road, so you’ll definitely need wheels if you want to see most of them.
There are dozens of scooter rental shops near Nanliao Harbor where you can easily rent a scooter for your trip. Prices and quality vary by shop, so if you’re not in the mood to shop around, you can pre-book a scooter rental here for pickup at the harbor. We rented a scooter from our hotel for TWD 500 a day. Like elsewhere in Taiwan, you’ll need a valid local license or an IDP specifically for a motorcycle.
If that’s not an option, bicycles are also available at most hotels and scooter rental shops. A public bus also makes a clockwise loop around the island, but it might not be the most convenient way to get around as it is a little infrequent. Tickets cost TWD 100 and can be bought on the bus when boarding. For more details, visit the Lyudao Visitor Center.
18 Fantastic Things to do on Green Island Taiwan
Go Snorkeling or Diving
Arguably the most popular thing to do on Green Island is snorkeling or scuba diving. This island is known for its abundant coral reefs and colorful marine life and even has a few shipwrecks, so you won’t be disappointed if this is what you want to experience. The waters are clear and clean, making it easy for anyone to have an underwater adventure!
Shihlang (石朗潛水區), Dabaisha (大白沙), and Chaikou (柴口浮潛區) are the three most popular spots for shore diving and snorkeling. You can arrange guided trips via your hotel or from any of the numerous dive shops scattered around the island and even get your PADI license if you have a few days on the island.
However, since Lyudou is a paradise for snorkelers and divers, it’s best to pre-book snorkeling or scuba diving adventures in advance to ensure you have a spot.
Travel tip: You don’t need to bring snorkeling gear with you on your trip. SEABOY in Nanliao Village sells a cool selection of masks, fins, and flippers, but there are also many diving shops scattered around town where you can rent gear for the day. We rented snorkeling gear (masks, fins, snorkels, and booties) for TWD 500 per person from Diving Unlimited (綠島·潛界). If you plan on visiting rock pools and caves, getting some dive booties is a must.
Relax at the Beach
Green Island has several beaches where you can relax and soak up the sun.
The most popular beach is Dabaisha, located on the island’s west coast. The beach features a stunning strip of white coral sand and is a popular snorkeling spot with loads of pools to hunt for colorful fish and little crabs. However, it’s probably not the best spot for a swim.
Another cool beach is Shihlang, just south of the harbor. The sand is less soft than at Dabaisha, and swimming could be challenging with all the rocks. But it’s a cool spot to work on your tan and watch all the divers come and go.
If you want to have a proper swim, the best place to do that is Oil Cave Lagoon (油窟潟湖) – a large azure-colored pool right below the lighthouse. It’s easy to find a quiet spot on the sand away from the crowds, and the sand is super soft.
Visit the Lyudao Lighthouse
Located right next to Green Island Airport, you’ll find one of the island’s most famous attractions – the Lyudao Lighthouse (綠島燈塔).
The lighthouse stands 33m tall, and perfectly manicured gardens surround it. It was built in 1938 after an American luxury cruise liner known as SS President Hoover hit a nearby reef and sank. The American Red Cross contributed money towards constructing the lighthouse to commemorate the shipwreck and thank the locals for their rescue efforts. During WWII, the lighthouse was destroyed by an airstrike but was later rebuilt in 1948 to its current state.
Today the lighthouse is a popular photo spot and a cool place to watch planes taking off or landing. You’ll need to climb roughly 150 steps to get to the top, but the effort will be worth it.
You can walk around the entire lighthouse for a bird’s-eye view over the island, coastline, and dreamy Oil Cave Lagoon below. Come just before sunset to watch the sun dangle over the horizon. You can also see wild lilies blooming all over the gardens from March to May.
Drop by Gongguan Nose
Just outside Gongguan Village near the cemetery, you’ll find one of Green Island’s best-kept secret sunset spots – Gongguan Nose (公館鼻)
A lovely walkway offers incredible views over the coast, village, Triple Rocks, and Niutoushan in the distance. If you’re up to it, you can even scramble up the volcanic hill for a bird’s eye view of the area. Just make sure to wear non-slip shoes – the mountain is quite steep, and there are many loose rocks.
Visit the Prison and Memorial Park
If you’re into history, Green Island is a great place to learn a little more about Taiwan’s most notorious prison location.
Under the Kuomintang-ruled government, the island was once used to exile political dissidents during the martial law period, which ran from 1947 to 1987. The prisoners lived in miserable circumstances and were often forced into hard labor and tedious thought transformation.
Today, you can tour the prison and visit the museum to learn more about how the prisoners lived and how they were treated. Nearby, you can also drop by the White Terror Memorial Park(白色恐怖綠島紀念園區), which commemorates the victims of the White Terror.
See the Triple Rocks
To the right of the Memorial Park, three peculiarly shaped stones jut out from the sea. These are the Triple Rocks (三峰岩) – Gongguan Village’s most iconic natural landmark.
The volcanic rocks are a fantastic example of the ocean’s brute force and have been shaped over thousands of years. It is also where prisoners were forced to do hard labor. Apparently (or at least with quite a bit of imagination), the rocks resemble a group of soldiers being watched by the nearby General Rock.
You can get a close-up view of the rocks from Memorial Park, but for an even better vantage point, walk to the small bay opposite Oasis Villa. Here, you can access the bay by walking underneath the Elephant Trunk Rock (象鼻岩) – a unique sea-eroded arch known as Devil’s Gate, which prisoners had to walk through to get to the prison.
Come at sunset to watch the sun dwindle over the horizon. It’s also a great spot to snap amazing pictures of the waves crashing against the giant stones.
Yanzidong (燕子洞), or Swallow Cave, is a giant cave carved out right underneath Niutou Hill with a disturbing past.
The cave was once used as a stage for political plays that prisoners had to perform in and also served as a place to cremate dead prisoners. Nearby you’ll find a tiny cemetery called the 13th Squadron, where some political prisoners and officials are buried.
Yanzidong remains a relatively secret spot, offering a welcome respite from other tourist attractions on Green Island. The cave is a bit eerie, but the scenery is stunning. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a few swallows inside the cave!
To get to the cave, follow Huandao Rd past the White Terror Memorial Hall. Keep an eye out for a tiny red temple on the left side of the road. Just past it, the road turns into a dirt road leading to Yanzidong.
It takes about 15-20 minutes to walk to the cave from the cemetery. Along the way, you can enjoy incredible views of ocean scenery and towering cliffs running all along the coast.
Drop by Guanyin Cave
Guanyin Cave (觀音洞伴手禮專賣店) isn’t the most exciting attraction on Green Island, but it makes for a nice quick pitstop even if it is just to grab an ice-cold drink or a quick snack.
If you’re up for it, take a short walk to the tiny temple housed in a natural stalactite cave. The temple is dedicated to Guanyin (The Goddess of Mercy) and is a popular pilgrimage site for islanders who come to pray and make special wishes in the wishing well.
Admire the Views atop Niutoushan
Niutoushan (牛頭山) is a sprawling grassy hilltop that resembles a bull’s head when viewed from the right angle.
It is covered in green slopes between April to June, and a large volcanic breccia forms a headland that towers 80m above sea level. A well-maintained meandering walkway leads to slopey hills offering impeccable views over the coast. It’s easy to scramble to the top of most of them, but if that’s not your thing, find a quiet spot on the meadow to soak up the views.
Niutou Hill is a popular sunset viewing spot, so it can get a little crowded. Thankfully, there’s lots of room, so it’s easy to get away from all the Instagrammers. Grab some beers or drinks at Guanyin Cave before you go so that you can soak up the views with a cold one! Oh, and, don’t go too close to the edge – the winds are quite strong up here!
Wander around Youzihu
Youzihu (柚子湖) is a picturesque bay and a must-do pitstop on Green Island.
You’ll need to follow a mostly hairpin bend road to the bottom to get there. It’s quite a scary drive down, so go slowly and check your scooter’s breaks before attempting the drive. The nail-biting drive is worth it, though, because the scenery is absolutely mind-blowing!
Youzihu is a natural lagoon home to a stunning coral reef and countless tidal pools where you can splash around or snorkel during low tide. Other features include a massive white coral and seashell sand beach, huge interestingly shaped rocks, and several sea caves.
Another attraction that is often overlooked here is the remnants of a 3000-year-old settlement (咾咕石古厝) built from coral stone. To get to the stone houses, keep an eye out for the tiny dirt road on your right just before the tar road ends. There’s also a sign that says no vehicles even though many people still drive through here to get a closer parking spot to the Blue Cave.
Swim in the Blue Cave
After checking out the old stone houses, continue along the coast to the Blue Cave (綠島藍洞) – a stunning natural cave with impeccably blue water.
It’s not the easiest place to reach and involves scrambling over sharp volcanic rocks and trekking through pools, so wear dive booties.
The Blue Cave is a popular snorkeling spot during low tide. But make sure to check the tide schedule before you go, and keep an eye on the wind. We almost got stuck on the rocks when the tide started coming in, and on another occasion, the northeastern wind was blowing up massive waves during low tide, making the pool impossible to reach. If you’re not a strong swimmer, please don’t attempt to swim here alone. The currents are quite strong, and the swells build up quickly. A better option is to join a guided snorkeling tour with a professional guide. You should be able to arrange this via your accommodation. Expect to pay around TWD 600 for the trip.
En route to the Blue Cave, you can also spot a secret waterfall running down a rocky cliff. Its flow wasn’t very strong when we visited, but it should be better after the rainy season. If you’re brave enough, you can scramble up to the top for a great view over the bay and a closer look at the waterfall.
Snap a Photo at Sea Cave
Sea Cave or Wangong Arch (彎弓洞) is another crown jewel of Green Island. It’s the largest sea cave on the island, measuring 10m in height and 15m in length.
The cave lies on the northern side of Youzihu Bay, and while you could drive almost right up to the cave’s entrance, enjoying a lovely coastal walk from the main parking area is highly recommended.
If you visit at the right time, it also makes for an incredible photo spot. Inside the cave, you’ll find a massive boulder you can clamber on for the perfect Instagram pic! Oh, and, bring your gear. There are lots of tidal pools where you can take a dip and spot tropical fish.
Tackle the Little Great Wall
Next up on your list of things to do on Green Island is the Little Great Wall (小長城). It kind of resembles the Great Wall of China (although much shorter), hence the name.
It’s a short 300-m trail to the edge of the cliff, with a couple of steep steps, but along the way, you’ll enjoy breathtaking coastal views and get a closer look at the lush vegetation lining the path. At the top, two pagodas offer shade from the sun and amazing views over Haishengping Bay below and Youzihu to the north.
The Little Great Wall is a popular spot during the daytime. But come back at night to see the stars lighting up the sky.
Hike to the Bottom of Haisenping
Haisenping (海蔘坪) is the remains of a volcanic crater eruption. This stunning crescent moon-shaped bay is home to interestingly shaped sea stacks, coral reefs, tons of dreamy pools, and a long strip of soft sand. It is also a great location for star gazing at night!
When viewed from above, two unique rock formations stand out – Pekingese Dog Rock (哈巴狗岩), which looks like a sleeping Snoopy, and Sleeping Beauty Rock (睡美人岩), which resembles a woman lying on her back.
The upper pavilion at the Little Great Wall offers an excellent view over the entire bay, but if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, there is also a secret trail that leads right down the beach. Below you can scramble over rocks, walk right under the Sleeping Beauty Rock’s neck and splash around in turquoise-colored tidal pools.
To get to the bottom of Haisenping Bay, you’ll need to follow a winding stone-step trail down the mountain. The trailhead is not marked, so look out for the reflective mirror just to the right of the Little Great Wall. From here, you’ll need to climb over the barrier to access the path. The trail to the bottom of Haisenping is only about 410m long and has an elevation of 100m. It takes about 15-20 minutes to complete, depending on your fitness.
Going down is fairly easy, but expect to break a sweat coming back up again. The forest is quite dense, and along the trail, you can spot gentle streams trickling down from the cliffside, lush vegetation, and even a few dilapidated old stone houses. Before attempting this hike, you should know that some parts are quite slippery. I’d only recommend tackling it if you are fit enough to get back to the top. Also, watch out for the weird jumping lizards!
Soak in Zhaori Hot Springs
Zhaori Hot Springs (朝日溫泉) is one of Green’s Island’s major draws and one of the most famous springs in Taiwan. What really makes it so special is that it is one of only three saltwater hot springs in the world!
There are three circular open-air pools near the ocean and several other spa-type pools a bit higher up, where you can soak while enjoying the coastal scenery. Many people visit the springs at night to admire the star-studded sky, but if you can, it’s worth waking up early to catch the most spectacular sunrise imaginable. After your soak, buy some eggs onsite to cook in the hot spring water!
Travel tip: Google lists the wrong opening hours for Zhaori Hot Springs. The springs are actually open just before sunrise and stay open until late at night. The entrance fee is TWD 250 per person. Bring a swimming cap if you have one; otherwise, bring extra cash to buy one onsite.
Stroll around Fanchuanbi Grassland
If you’re visiting Zhaori Hot Springs, then you definitely must go to Fanchuanbi Grassland (帆船鼻大草原).
Fanchuanbi is a raised coral reef terrace covered in green grass. It is next to the springs, and you’ll spot the wooden stairway right at the edge of the parking area.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be greeted with an expansive grassy plateau and stunning views no matter which way you turn. Some of the most notable scenes to see here include Zhaori Hot Springs, Haisenping, Ziping, and even Orchid Island if the weather is good.
Stop by Ziping Ecological Conservation Area
Right behind Green Island’s campground and just a short drive from Fanchuanbi, you’ll find a beautiful protected area known as Ziping (紫坪生態保育區).
There’s little to do here, but it’s worth a quick browse if you have time. A well-maintained boardwalk leads down to the coast and makes for a lovely breezy stroll. At the end of the walkway, you’ll find an expansive intertidal zone and some interesting plant life.
You’re also likely to spot some lintou fruit along the trail. The fruit looks like pineapple but has a darker orange color. Apparently, it’s quite laborious to eat, but if you want to try it, you can buy lintou juice at most of the little mom-and-pop markets on the island.
Drive through Fudi Dongtian
If you follow the round-the-island road, you’re bound to pass Fudi Dongtian (福地洞天) at some stage during your island adventures. It’s a cool photo spot, but keep an eye out for passing scooters and falling rocks.
Where to Eat & Drink in Green Island, Taiwan
Green Island has an amazing food scene with tons of cool and quirky eateries. You’ll find the biggest concentration of eateries in Nanliao Village, but there are also a few other cool places further afield.
Here are some of my favorite spots.
- Yeahwave is a cozy burger joint with ample rooftop seating and seriously delicious burgers. Try the spicy beef cheeseburger or the beef cheeseburger with peanut sauce if you feel a bit more adventurous!
- Wild BBQ – For awesome rooftop vibes and perfectly barbequed Japanese-style skewers, you should definitely stop by here. Just a word of warning, Wild BBQ gets packed quickly. Be prepared to wait or make a reservation in advance.
- Crazy Fried features funky colorful interiors and serves up an array of incredible seafood dishes. You can order individual dishes, but they also have meal sets at very affordable prices. Don’t miss the steamed garlic prawns – it’s heavenly!
- Sun Bar Seafood has a good selection of seafood dishes, but if you stick around long enough, it feels more like a bar. The outdoor eating area is a great place to people-watch as it’s right on the main strip.
- If you’re looking for a super laid-back spot to grab a quick bite or some blue shaved ice, 島後面 just past the Ocean View hiking trail is the spot for you.
- 硓宅食堂 is a super Instagrammable eatery with a botanical vibe. They dish up everything from salt-baked mackerel to mapo tofu with pork chops. Make a reservation if you don’t want to wait for a seat.
- Our’s Shop, right in front of Green Island Good Sound, doesn’t serve any food, but it’s a cool spot to grab an ice-cold beer or a boozy cocktail while listening to the waves crashing on nearby Shihlang Beach. It’s a little away from Nanliao Village, so best to walk if you’re planning on having a few drinks.
- DM Burger is another super popular burger shop right in the hustle and bustle of Nanliao Village. Come a little earlier or get ready to wait in line.
- If you’re craving something a bit fancier, try Hijau – a posh Mediterranean restaurant.
What to Pack for Green Island, Taiwan
Now that you know where to stay and what to do on Green Island, let’s have a quick look at what you need to pack.
- Cash: As mentioned before, the ATMs on Green Island only accept local bank cards. If you’re traveling with an international card, remember to withdraw money on the mainland beforehand.
- Eco-friendly Sunscreen: Pack a reef-safe sunscreen that will protect you from the sun and won’t harm the environment.
- Microfibre towel: Pack a lightweight towel, like this microfiber beach towel. It dries in a jiffy and won’t weigh you down.
- Waterproof Cellphone Case & Dry Bag: You’ll likely spend much time in and near the water. Remember to bring a decent waterproof cellphone case and a dry bag to keep your stuff dry.
- Camera: I always travel with my Olympus Mirrorless camera, but if you’re going to be hunting for underwater treasures, you’ll need something waterproof. Try this Go Pro. If you’re into videography, this DJI Mini 2 Fly More drone is a must-add-on to your kit.
- Mosquito repellant: We didn’t have any problems with mozzie bites while visiting Green Island, but it’s always a good idea to have bug spray or mosquito repellant bracelets with you as a backup.
- If you need more help figuring out what to pack, check out my detailed Taiwan packing list for more tips.
Green Island, Taiwan in Conclusion
With so many amazing things to do and places to see, Green Island remains one of Taiwan’s best-kept secrets. While the island rarely makes it onto most travelers’ Taiwan itinerary, it’s the perfect place to visit if you’re into nature and diving.
Well, that’s all I have on visiting Green Island, Taiwan. Thanks for making it to the end of this post! If you have any other suggestions for things to do in Green Island, let me know in the comments below so I can try them out on my next visit!
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