Monday, November 29, 2010

Green Island

Green island (綠島, Lyu dao) is a small vocanic island located about 33km off the eastern coast of Taiwan. The island was originally inhabited by Ami aborigines who called it Sanasai, meaning the birth place of ancestors. A fisherman, Chen bi Xian, who led the village from Xiao Lu Chou first settled down on the island in 1803 and the Han immigration started. The island was called "Huo Shao Dao" (fire-burned island) in the begining of 19 century (Chin Dynasty) and renamed "Green Island" by the magistrate of Taitung in 1949. There are several versions of stories about how the island was called fire-burned island including the residents would light up torches on the hill of the island to guide fishing boats to a safety return before there was a light house; a wild fire burned down the half island; and the red soil was exposed because the vegetation on the island was destroyed by typhoon in summmer or cold fronts in the winter time creating an illusion from the distance.

Surrounded by Pacific Ocean, the island is an ideal isotated spot for outlaws, and the island was noted as a place that held the most dangerous exiles of Taiwan. There were two prisons on the island: the Green Island Prison that used to lock up the most brutal gansters is still functioning as a prision today; the Green Island Lodge where most of the political prisoners were held during the white terror is now opened to the public for visit.

Green island has one of the three sea bed hot springs in the world (one in Japan and the other in Italy) that attracts a lot of sea bed hot spring afficionado worldwide. The hot spring is located in a tidal flat, in the eastsouth of the island, a perfect spot for sunrise. Sitting in the ocean and feeling the heat of the hot spring surrounding you as the first ray of sun appears is a unique experience.

Except for the sea bed hot spring and exotic vocanic landscape, the underwater world is the jewel of green island. There are over 300 different species of coral in green island including a 13 meter tall Porites lobata that has lived in the Shrlang area for over 1200 years. Every summer the black current brings many different species of fish to the area making it the high season for tourism.

Video by Yang Zhe Ren, National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium.

To the island:
By ferry: NT$ 920/person for a return ticket. Take a ferry at Fugang harbor in Taitung City, check in 30min before departure. You can find the schedule and book a ticket online at  (Chinese only).
By air: NT$ 1028/person for an one way ticket. Take a plane at the Taitung airport;  there are 3 flights a day by daily airflight schedule.

On the island:
Motocycle is the best transportation to move around the island, NT$350/day, or you can take one of the tourist buses that depart at 08:00, 09:00, 10:00, 11:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00 at the Nanliao Harbor. The bus clockwisely circumnavigates the island, it also makes brief stops at  tourist attractions of the island and the bus final stop is the Nanliao Harbor. It takes about 2 hours for a bus trip, NT$100/person. ( for details call 089-671272)

There are a lot of B&B on Green Island, most of them provide a package tour (about NT$2000 to 250 per person) including one room, green island return tickets, motocycle, snorkeling/ glass boat/ hot spring, night tour for wild sika deer sighting, etc. you can find out more by surfing the B&B info in the following websites: