Discover the underwater wonders of Xiao Liuqiu, a haven for freediving enthusiasts in Taiwan. From vibrant reefs to mysterious shipwrecks, this guide, brought to you by VD Freediving Taiwan, unveils the best spots for an unforgettable freediving adventure. Dive in to explore the pristine waters that cater to divers of all levels, with expert guidance from Anthony, a founder of VD Freediving Taiwan and a certified AIDA instructor trainer, Molchanovs Wave 3 instructor trainer, Wave 4 freediving competition instructor, and a professional coach specializing in deep diving.
Embark on a journey to the serene waters of Xiao Liuqiu, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Taiwan, offering a rich and diverse underwater experience for freediving enthusiasts. From the vibrant reefs to the mysterious shipwrecks, Xiao Liuqiu promises an adventure that caters to divers of all levels. In this guide, we delve deep into the various freediving spots around the island, offering insights into the unique characteristics of each location. Let’s embark on this underwater journey, where the beauty of the ocean meets the thrill of exploration.
Understanding Currents in Xiao Liuqiu
Navigating the waters of Xiao Liuqiu requires a keen understanding of the changing currents. Influenced by the moon phase and tide type, the currents can vary in strength and direction. Diurnal tides bring stronger currents, while semi-diurnal tides are known for weaker currents. Utilize apps like Windy to anticipate tide patterns and plan your dive accordingly to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Xiaoliuqiu experiences two distinct seasons that are particularly favorable for freediving, marked by tranquil waters. During the summer, the wind blows from the south, offering excellent conditions for deep training on the north side. In contrast, winter sees the wind shifting to the north, making the southern part of the island an optimal spot for freediving. In my view, the winter season is the perfect time to visit and train in Xiaoliuqiu. As mentioned, the ocean remains calm on the southern side of the island, accompanied by ideal weather and water temperatures.
Freediving Safety in Taiwan
Safety is paramount in freediving. Before venturing into the waters of Xiao Liuqiu, ensure you are well-trained in freediving safety and rescue techniques. Always dive with a trained buddy and adhere to high safety standards. Several schools on the island offer courses to enhance your safety knowledge and skills, preparing you for a secure and enjoyable diving experience.
Xiao Liuqiu Freediving Locations
1. Zhongao Beach (中澳沙灘)
- Access: Easily accessible, this location promises a smooth start to your diving adventure.
- Available Depth: Offering depths ranging from 5-15m, it’s an excellent spot for beginners and intermediate divers.
- Best For: Ideal for snorkeling and fundiving, it’s a place where you can leisurely explore the underwater world.
- Reef Status: Despite recent bleaching events affecting the reef’s health, it still offers a glimpse into the vibrant marine life.
- Safety: Be cautious of the potential strong currents, and always use fins for added safety and mobility.
2. Yufu Port (漁福) / Lobster Cave
- Access: You cannot access the beach through the port. They recently closed this way. High tide offers the best conditions for entry, although caution is advised when the swell is up.
- Available Depth: Depths of 20-30m provide a deeper dive experience, allowing for exploration and adventure.
- Best For: Perfect for deep snorkeling, exploring, and fundiving, it’s a haven for those seeking a deeper connection with the ocean.
- Reef Status: The reef here remains dense and healthy, especially as you venture further out, showcasing the vibrant marine ecosystem.
- Safety: Strong currents are a notable feature here, requiring divers to remain vigilant, especially with the close proximity of boat traffic.
3. Dafu Port (大福)
- Access: Easy access with a note of caution regarding underwater rocks on the north side.
- Available Depth: Depths up to 35m are available, although it requires a 400m swim from the shore.
- Best For: Ideal for freediving courses, easy training, and accommodating less confident divers.
- Reef Status: While less vibrant than other areas, the southern region offers a healthier reef with rich marine life.
- Safety: It is generally a safe location, but it can get crowded with SUP and kayaks, requiring divers to be mindful of their surroundings.
4. Secret Beach (厚石魚澳) (“Not that secret though!!!”)
- Access: Generally easy, but divers should be cautious of potential strong currents, especially during swells. The beach gets crowded with kayak and SUP businesses on holidays.
- Available Depth: Depths between 5-10m make it a great spot for deep snorkeling and exploring.
- Best For: A fantastic location for fundiving and stand-up paddleboarding, offering diverse water activities.
- Reef Status: Although the reef has deteriorated over time, it still hosts a variety of marine life, offering a glimpse into the underwater world.
- Safety: Strong currents can be encountered, especially further from the shore, requiring divers to remain cautious and prepared.
5. Shanfu (杉福漁港) / The Shipwreck
- Access: Generally easy on calm days, but caution is needed during swells to ensure safe entry and exit.
- Available Depth: Depths up to 20m are easily accessible, about 250m from the shore, offering a deeper diving experience.
- Best For: Ideal for deep snorkeling, exploring, fundiving, and freediving courses, it’s a hotspot for diving enthusiasts.
- Reef Status: The reef here is healthy, featuring interesting structures and a rich marine ecosystem.
- Safety: Swells and low tides require caution, but the area is generally protected from strong currents, offering a safer diving experience.
- Bonus Tip: The shipwreck is a highlight, allowing divers to explore a piece of history underwater.
6. Meiren Dong (美人洞) / Beauty Beach / The Nets
- Access: Entry depends on the swell height, with caution advised during large waves to ensure safety.
- Available Depth: Depths up to 45m are available from the shore, offering a deep dive experience for advanced divers. You can use the nets to anchor your buoy.
- Best For: A hotspot for depth training, snorkeling, fun diving, and spotting sea turtles, it’s a diver’s paradise.
- Reef Status: Despite being stressed, the area still hosts a rich marine life, including sea turtles and other fascinating creatures.
- Safety: Strong currents can be encountered, especially around high tide, requiring divers to be well-prepared and vigilant.
7. Vase Rock (花瓶石)
- Access: Fairly easy access, making it a popular spot for snorkeling tours and leisurely dives.
- Available Depth: Depths ranging from 5-15m offer a great playground for snorkeling and fundiving.
- Best For: Perfect for snorkeling and fundiving, it’s a place to explore underwater rock formations and boulders.
- Reef Status: While the reef quality has diminished, the area still offers exciting rock formations and boulders.
- Safety: Divers should be cautious of potential strong currents, especially further from the beach, to ensure a safe diving experience.
Boat Diving / Unlimited Depth
For those seeking deeper adventures, boat diving offers unlimited depth for training, providing an exhilarating experience for intermediate and advanced divers. Connect with VD Freediving Taiwan to explore the deep training opportunities around Liuqiu.
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If you’re curious about the allure of freediving and why I passionately advocate for more people to immerse themselves in this transformative experience, I invite you to delve into my personal insights in this article. Discover the profound reasons “Why I Freedive” and why I believe you should too. Jetez un œil (take a peek) at this enriching piece here: Why I Freedive.
Planning a Visit to Xiaoliuqiu?
Discover the pristine beauty of Xiaoliuqiu, the jewel of southwest Taiwan. Prepare for your journey by exploring our detailed guide to make the most of your visit to this beautiful island paradise: Your Guide to Xiaoliuqiu.
Xiao Liuqiu stands as a beacon of underwater beauty and adventure, offering a range of options for snorkeling and freediving. From beginner-friendly spots to advanced training grounds, the island promises an unforgettable diving experience. As the world gradually recovers from the pandemic, Taiwan warmly welcomes you to explore its hidden gem in the international freediving scene, promising adventure, exploration, and the beauty of the underwater world.