The 2022 Ultimate Guide to Diving in Taiwan

Three Scuba Divers exploring coral reefs in Xiaoliuqiu Taiwann

Diving in Taiwan

The overview of Diving in Taiwan

If you thought Taiwan’s reputation for it’s amazing cycling and hiking couldn’t be beat, wait until you spend some time exploring the wonders of Taiwan’s underwater experiences. You may have heard whispers that Taiwan’s dive scene isn’t all that great and while there are a few reports of relatively ‘lonely’ waters with few fish and creatures in different dive sites around the island, we’re confident the diving in Taiwan is well worth the effort and expense. In fact, as you’ll find out in this Ultimate Guide to Diving in Taiwan, the diving is spectacular, the dive sites here are very accessible and diving schools and PADI certification are some of the most affordable in Asia. Diving in Taiwan is extremely underrated and we’re here to show you how to get the most out of it.

Taiwan’s waters have an incredible number of fish, with some estimates putting the number at about 1,100 species of coral fish. This means that those diving in the waters around Taiwan have the opportunity to swim with approximately 60% of the world’s hard and soft coral species. And hey, listen; we’re not the only ones who see a ton of potential with Taiwan’s diving scene. 

Despite being left off lists like ScubaTravel.co.uk or Sport Diver’s 100 Best Diving Sites in the World, the favorable latitude and ocean currents means Taiwan is a destination that offers year-round diving, vibrant sea life, great visibility and endless opportunities for outdoor (and underwater) adventures. 

Taiwan is small, but punches above its weight. Taiwan essentially has two distinct marine environments and coral reef systems despite only having approximately 364km of coastline. Part of this is geography, part of this is due to ocean currents, specifically one called the Kuroshiro Current (aka The Artery of Life), which travels up from the equator bringing warmer water and many tropical creatures to Taiwan’s southern coast.  This means dive destinations such as Kenting (墾丁), Lanyu (蘭嶼), and Xiaoliuqiu Island boast diverse and rich marine life.

The north of Taiwan (and Northern Penghu) tend to be impacted by cooler water currents coming south from mainland China. This is compared to the more mild north, with water temperature in northern Taiwan and northern Penghu approximately between 5-6 degrees lower than southern Taiwan. We will touch on average water temperatures a little later in this Ultimate Diving Guide to Taiwan, but this still makes the waters in northern Taiwan very comfortable for diving. In fact, these cooler waters draw an entirely different range of sea life to Taiwan. 

Scuba diving off the coast of Green Island, Taiwan and into the Abyss.
Scuba diving off the coast of Green Island and into the Abyss

While the waters around Taiwan were once very abundant with larger sea creatures and mammals such as Dugongs and , they . While Dugongs have not been seen in the waters around Taiwan since the 1990’s, it is still fun to think about while you’re exploring the depths of Taiwan’s oceans and seas!

There is no doubt Taiwan should be considered a world-class diving destination with the accessibility, quality operators, affordable prices (both in and out of the water), and the overall diving experience. Whatsmore? The whole package of an outdoor adventure in Taiwan is spectacular. From the interconnected transportation network that can bring you from a world-class international airport to the off-shore islands to the culinary and other recreational experiences you can have, Taiwan as a world-class diving destination shouldn’t be in question. The real question is, what kind of diving are you going to do on your next adventure vacation in Taiwan?

Types of Diving in Taiwan

The different types of diving in Taiwan.

Freediving in Taiwan

Partially fueled by international travel restrictions and a younger Taiwanese generation that seemingly has an endless appetite for outdoor adventures,  freediving in Taiwan has exploded in popularity in recent years. What was once a fridge sport for the courageous is now one of the fastest growing water-based activities in Taiwan. We’ll get into all of the diving locations across the island later in this article. The short of it is freediving instructors, shops, schools and locations and are located across Taiwan including in major cities such as Taipei and Taichung. For some of the popular freediving location hit up Maoao (卯澳) and Longdong (龍洞) in northern Taiwan, Kenting (墾丁) and Xiaoliuqiu (​​小琉球) in the south and Green Island and Orchid Island (蘭嶼) off-shore. If you were expecting a full breakdown of what freediving is, we apologize and defer to Freedive Taiwan’s great description here.

We’ll take this time to remind readers of the importance of always practicing safe diving by getting into the water with a buddy, having the proper training and experience and keeping an eye on the weather. Here are 20 safety procedures to follow when freediving in Taiwan or elsewhere in the world. We’ll leave this with a great quote from the somewhat famous (albeit in freediving circles) Dean Fredricks, who stated in a 2013 interview with Stuart Hill, “I would advise anyone who’s tried freediving a few times and enjoyed it, to take the initiative to get certified. The certification sets a basic level of ability for diving, safety and rescue. Without being certified, you are a risk to yourself and the people you dive with.”

A free diver explores the underwater world of Taiwan.
Freediver explores the underwater world of Taiwan.

Scuba Diving in Taiwan

Scuba Diving in Taiwan is becoming a major outdoor activity for Taiwan residents and visitors to the country. Much like it’s hiking experiences, Taiwan offers truly diverse Scuba Diving experiences. From temperate waters and shore entry dives in the north, to tropical boat dives in the south and outer lying island. While the country doesn’t really boast any live-aboard opportunities at this time, there are plenty of Scuba Diving experiences to fill a lifetime of exploring below the ocean surface. There are highly skilled instructors and courses for all skill levels, both in dive centers in the major cities as well as out on site. 

Snorkeling in Taiwan

While also growing in popularity in Taiwan (are you sensing a trend here) snorkeling has certainly been taken up by the young and young at heart for a number of years. The bigger trend here in Taiwan is that there is simply less trepidation about going swimming and getting into the ocean. For the older generations in Taiwan, swimming was rather frowned upon and in fact was banned prior to the lifting of martial law in the late 1980’s and even then, few people swam in the ocean as a recreational activity. 

Both shore or beach snorkeling sites are common, while boat snorkeling does open up a variety of snorkeling destinations in Taiwan. Most popular tourist / snorkeling destinations have vendors renting or selling masks, snorkels and fins (as well as life jackets in most locations), but if you want to beat the crowds and swim in the early mornings, we’d suggest bringing or buying your own gear.

We’ll touch on both the destinations and where you can grab snorkeling gear in Taiwan later in this Ultimate Guide. For now though, we believe the least busy snorkeling areas are located on Taiwan’s outlying islands. While destinations such as Green Island (Lu Dao / 綠島) offer up a superb snorkeling (and scuba or freediving, as well as “Deep Water Postal Service”) destination with more than 300 fish species and 205 types of coral found in the crystal-blue water, other dive regions such as Orchid Island, Penghu and Xiaoliuqiu present the chance to experience some larger sea creatures (Green Sea Turtles, Sea Snakes and others).

There are certainly a lot of great snorkeling destinations on the ‘mainland’ of Taiwan, which we’ll get into a little bit later. Snorkeling in Taiwan can be done in a bit of a shorter time than Scuba Diving, so if you want to complement your snorkeling with an indigenous or cultural experience, we suggest heading to the beaches on Orchid Island, where the Indigenous Tao Peoples have inhabited the island and built a distinct cultural identity from other areas of Taiwan. Finally, for those living in Taiwan (and many more around the world), the name “Xiao Fei” is synonymous with river tracing, exploring and waterfalls in Taiwan. He’s also put up a fantastic resource for fun snorkelling sites across Taiwan. Bookmark Xiao Fei’s website if you plan on getting off the beaten path and into the cool rivers and abundant oceans of Taiwan.

Best Dive Spots in Taiwan

Below you’ll find Taiwan Outdoor’s list of dive spots across the Island of Taiwan. This includes locations popular for Freediving, Scuba Diving and Snorkeling, but shouldn’t be considered a full list of every possible dive site in Taiwan….yet. We’ll get there and continue to add to this document as we can, but we wanted to simply highlight some of the great opportunities to get out and under the sea in Taiwan. Over time, we’ll be building out dedicated webpages for each of these, but that will take some time. If you have a dive site or snorkeling location that you think we should add, drop us a message at yourtaiwanoutdoors@gmail.com

It’s important to consider when you’re diving, as underwater ecosystems are extremely fragile. Be respectful to the local environments, the local communities and be sure to prevent damage to the coral reefs.

Northern Taiwan – New Taipei City

Badouzi (八斗子)

Probably one of the best dive sites for those living in or near Taipei, Secret Garden (秘密花園)  is quickly becoming the top dive site in northern Taiwan. Located in Zhongzheng District of Keelung, Secret Garden first became popular with snorkelers and Scuba divers around 2010. 

For those interested in sustainable outdoor recreation, the larger area was designated as a marine protected area in 2016 and was named Wanghaixiang Chaojing Bay Resource Conservation Area. This is the only area to receive this designation in Northern Taiwan. In part, this designation was part of the efforts of one many with a pretty remarkable story to protect Bigfin Reef Squid in the area. 

Badouzi in New Taipei City - Overlooking Secret Garden Dive Site in Taiwan.
Badouzi – Overlooking Secret Garden Dive Site in Taiwan.

Since the area was designated by the Central Government, the sea life in the area has certainly been rejuvenated (funny how that works). Within Northern Taiwan, this site punches above its weight in sea life, in terms of the number and variety of fish and sea life found in Secret Garden. The area also boasts decent visibility (15-20m) and some cool coral structures that make Secret Garden arguably the better dive site in Northern Taiwan. If you’re looking for more structures, check out Badouzi’s Shipwreck and the images of a local boat dive to the sunken vessel hosted by FundiversTW

In general, Badozi is becoming a hotspot for outdoor enthusiasts and people interested in the outdoors with SUP rentals available, popular hiking destinations along the north coast, day trips to the newly opened Keelung Islet and the National Marine Science Museum (國立海洋科技博物館). Foreigners in Taiwan have a great post online with an overview of Baodouzi and Chaojing Park. Another fun site located in the Badouzi area is the 海建號 (Haijian Wreck) (see video below).

Long Dong (龍洞)

Long Dong Bay is the largest bay along the North east coast and is located in Gongliao District of New Taipei City just about an hours drive east of the port city of Keelung. Are you living or staying in and around Taipei, Taiwan’s capital? This might just be the most convenient location for snorkeling or diving for you. Boasting clear waters and vast amounts of marine life, it is the perfect place for snorkeling and SCUBA. There are some great resources out there and we recommend browsing them to make sure you’re picking the right destination and experiences for your skill level and interests. Ryan Hevern put out a post about snorkeling at Long Dong. 

The primary dive season at Long Dong is from late April to early October. In the springtime, the ocean can be a bit chilly at around 23~25ºC. Summer water temperatures rise to a warm 26~27ºC. The visibility isn’t as clear as some of the outlying islands of Taiwan, which is too bad as the structures and coral growth would be fantastic in clearer waters. 

There are also some really interesting environmental initiatives that have been implemented in this area. Starting around July each year, local dive operators have begun to make “squid nests” from fresh bamboo branches and placing these into traditional nesting areas of the ​​Bigfin Reef Squid off the north coast of Taiwan. After only a few days, small squid (measuring between 13-63cm) start laying eggs in the bamboo structures, while the structure itself also attracts other marine life like small fish, shrimp, crabs, etc. This may be the most popular dive site in northern Taiwan and is essentially divable all year round. That’s good news for folks who like to have fun dives in Taiwan. The only scenario where diving is not suitable in Long Dong would be when wind is up and the waves are holding a north easterly swell. 

Much like many dive sites around Taiwan, one of the great things about Long Dong is there are diving experiences suitable for everyone. Depth ranges from 5m to over 25m. This makes it very very busy in the summer months. Oftentimes you will see at least more than 30 divers in the water.A few of the more popular dive sites here are called “Ho-Mei Elementary School” “the ladder” or “82.5”. If you’re diving during the summer months, note that parking can fill up by 8:00am, so plan accordingly. We’ll come right out and say it. Maybe aim to explore a different site on the weekend as you will often see ques of people waiting to enter the water by the ladder. This type of activity in the water can cause stress on marine life and damage the coral. Just some food for thought.

Here is a Deepblu page dedicated to the dive sites in LongDong, New Taipei City. Some of the other dive sites that are increasingly becoming popular along Taiwan’s north coast include:

Keelung Islet 基隆嶼基隆島 – While officially off-shore, this small island is located only a short XXkm or 30 minute boat ride from Taiwan’s north coast city of Keelung. It was only recently opened to the public a few years ago and now draws hikers and divers alike to explore this unique ecosystem. 馬崗 (Magang) is also located out the eastern end of New Taipei CIty, just east of the popular Fulong Beach, this shore dive site offers a decent array of coral, both soft and hard, and marine life at depths of only around 6-15 meters. 

Eastern Taiwan – Yilan, Hualien & Taitung Counties

Turtle Island 龜山島 

Much like Green Island and Orchid Islands, Turtle Island is a also a volcanic Island located approximately 10km off the eastern coast of Yilan County, Taiwan. This is not a standard dive site. While this area may not feature the crystal clear visibility or boundless schools of tropical fish that other dive sites around the world offer, it is truly unique and worth a visit if you have the time and experience (Note: The visibility and marine life are both pretty decent here though). As this site is an active geological site, there are active hot springs under the surface and they keep pushing  bubbles up through small cracks in the ocean floor. While these types of experiences are popular in Iceland and other destinations, you can experience this same hydrothermal phenomenon here in Taiwan. Pair this with warmer water temperatures and a decent amount of marine life and it’s a pretty great place for a boat dive. Here’s a link to some of the dive sites around Turtle Island.  The other few dive sites in Yilan County are not significant in terms of sites across Taiwan but include places like Tofu Cape in Su’ao or 粉鳥林 (Pink Birds Forest) or Feng Niao Lin Fishing Harbour. Further north in Yilan County sites such as 蘭城 (Lancheng) are drawing divers. 

Eastern Taiwan – Hualien County 

Shi Ti Ping (Hualien) 石梯漁港 – Located just an eyelash north of the Tropic of Cancer on the east coast of Taiwan, this is a shore dive destination that offers snorkelers and scuba divers an opportunity to explore the tropical fish and coral reef of this scenic location. The weather matters when getting into the ocean and the east coast of Taiwan is no different. The east coast has larger swells and the currents here can be dangerous for those who are not experienced swimmers. Snorkeling and scuba diving are both permitted and popular here, but we always suggest considering the elements and talking to locals before you dive. If you are into other outdoor activities, Shi Ti Ping is a great location for fishing and the nearby harbor is the launching spot for dolphin-watching and whale-watching tours between April and September.

If you are bringing your partner or friends that don’t like snorkeling or diving, there is a ton to do in the area, including exploring the trails and unique coral reef geology (above water) and the natural landscapes formed by erosion and pounding waves. There is also a campground right next door, so why not make a weekend out of it! Check out Neil Wade’s short blog post about the area and the campground.

The east coast of Taiwan doesn’t boast as many dive sites in terms of being densely located as other regions of Taiwan, but there are many that we didn’t include here. This includes both shore entry and boat dives. We suggest that if you are interested in more dive spots to check out contact a local dive tour operator or dive shop in the region or check out Deepblu’s dedicated search pages on Yilan, Hualien and Taitung.

Southern Taiwan – Pingtung County

The truth is southern Taiwan offers divers (snorkeling, freediving and scuba diving) a far more consistent and quality diving experience. Not only the outlying islands such as Xiaoliuqiu, but also popular tourism destinations like Kenting, which offer year-round diving. 

Kenting (墾丁)

Kenting, as we’ve mentioned in some of our other Ultimate Guides to Taiwan, is a popular destination for many local Taiwanese and foreign residents. In addition to a lively night-market and many famous beaches including white sand beaches (some offering great surfing opportunities), you can also visit the Kenting National Park and National Forest Recreation Area, pamper yourself at one of the many resorts or hotels in the area or check out the southernmost point in Taiwan.

But didn’t come here for what is above the water, you’re more interested in what’s below the water, right? In Kenting, divers can explore coral reefs, diverse underwater structures and even wrecks. If you’re lucky you can spot Green Sea Turtles and perhaps catch a glimpse of stingrays, while swimming among schools of tropical fish.  

For families snorkeling and experienced divers, the Kenting township and the larger Hengchun Peninsula offers some really great experiences in and around the surface and deeper ocean dives around 20-30 meters.

In the Kenting area the diving sites are:

  • Chu Shui Kou (出水口) – Also known as Little Bali 小巴里島岩, this is one of the more popular destinations in Kenting for all kinds of beach-goers as well as those diving. The sharp volcanic rocky entry and stronger currents (near the sea wall on a divers’ left) tend to deter some from really experiencing this dive site, but the word is that the sea life is well worth it. If crowds aren’t your thing, consider going mid-week or off-peak to really enjoy this site. Wear rubber shoes or booties at this site if you have them, as the shore entry is a touch tricky. The white sand beach makes this a nice place to spend a morning or afternoon. Parking is free on the road but is limited. No real amenities are available on site, so bring what you need for the trip (and always pack out what you bring in). Check out this nice Underwater Google Earth selection of 出水口 (Chu Shui Kou) if you want an up close and personal view of the reef here. While the snorkelling is decent, the diving at around 10-15m is where the popularity of this Taiwanese dive site is generated. 
  • Xiao Lao Gu (小咾咕) – Located just east and offshore of Chu Shui Kou (出水口), this site is boat entry and likely requires an operator (unless you coordinate yourself). This site offers a deeper dive for scuba enthusiasts, where depths are reaching around 20-25 metres. Coral here is abundant and opportunities to spot larger schools of fish are plenty. 
  • Banana Bay 香蕉灣 – For families and those not interested in getting out into the deeper stuff, snorkeling in and around the shallows offers fantastic experiences and opportunities to see smaller tropical fish, crabs and other creatures. It’s also less busy and generally away from the larger crowds that can congregate in Kenting. For those looking to Scuba Dive, bring your own gear as no dive tours are located here. Shore entry into decently visible waters (typically) that generally offer the best experiences at 10m depth. Wear rubber shoes / booties for a more comfortable entry and exploration. Bring your own gear or you can usually rent snorkeling gear from a vendor who usually post up on either side of Highway 21. There’s a few eateries in the area as well as a campground and roofed accommodation.
Green Seat Turtle while Diving in Taiwan off the southern coast.
Green Seat Turtle while Diving in Taiwan

There are literally dozens of Kenting dive sites, both shore entry and boat dives that we haven’t listed here and suggest if you are interested in more dive spots in and around Kenting to contact a local dive tour operator or dive shop in the region or check out Deepblu’s dedicated search page on Kenting here.

Off-Shore Islands of Taiwan

Green Island 綠島

Green Island is located in the southeast of Taiwan’s Pacific Ocean and off the coast of Taitung. Lu Dao (translated as “Green Island”) is Taiwan’s 4th largest island and has become a favorite dive destination for many residents of Taiwan and visitors to the country.  Who can blame them with crystal clear water, coral depths of up to 30m, fantastic sea life and great visibility. The island also has an interesting history that’s worth reading a bit about.

Group of snorkelers preparing for a shore dive off the coast of Green Island, Taiwan.
Group of snorkelers preparing for a shore dive off the coast of Green Island, Taiwan

When it comes to dive sites, Green Island has plenty of options, including both shore entry and boat dives. Local operators such as Taiwan Island Dives can surely take you to some of the better spots. While you can plan your trip around some of the best itms of the year for diving, which would be between May~October, as this is when you’ll find warmer average water temperatures of around 29°C. You’ll also find more regular ferry service between Green Island (綠島) and Taitung (臺東) or more specifically, Fugang Harbor (富岡) which is just 15 minute drive north of Taitung City. The big difference between peak and off season is the accessibility of some of the sites. During the peak season, dive and boat operators on Green Island operate shore and boat dives every day, but reduce service to around once per week in the low season. Of course shore entry dives are available all year, but when the island receives relatively strong northeasterly winds (typical during the low season) most of the east and northern dive sites become unsuitable for diving or snorkeling .Let’s get back to the diving on Green Island 綠島. Due to the Kuroshio Current, this off-shore island boasts a very rich variety of coral and a lively and colorful underwater environment. The visibility is also tremendous with some claiming up to 40m. Some of the more popular dive sites include locations off of Nanliao Harbor, Tapaisha and Chaikou, while other lesser known sites also offer fantastic dive experiences, such as: 

  • Da Bai Sha (大白沙) – This white sandy beach is a great shore entry destination for both scuba diving or snorkeling. The beach itself has scattered coral, rocks and the water reaches depths of about 20 meters not too far offshore. The coral continues underwater with occasional larger reefs jutting out of the water and plenty of underwater structures quite abundant with marine life, including some reef caves. One other thing to mention is that this area also has a pretty high density of fire corals, which can cause a burning sensation and pain upon contact. 
  • Pegasus Shipwreck (飛馬號沈船) – In the early 2000’s, a 1,500 tonne Greek freighter hit a reef about 100m off of the southeastern shore of Green Island. Over the years, algae and coral have encroached as has the marine life. Dive down only 15-25 metres to this site to explore the dozens of coral that now call this artificial reef home.
  • Steel Reef (鋼鐵礁) – Located off the southwest end of the island, Steel Reef is an artificial reef development that provides an exceptional dive experience. 

If you’re still looking for underwater fun, plan a dive near the Shilang Diving Area where you can find the world’s deepest underwater mailbox at about 11 meter depth. Before getting in the water, be sure to buy and write on one of the waterproof postcards that have been designed by local school children. This seahorse shaped mailbox is real. It’s a functioning mailbox. Definitely worth the trip down to check it out!

There is also a ton to do out of the water and your experience doesn’t end when you take off the wetsuit or mask. Plan an extra few days to relax at a famous saltwater hot spring, one of only 3 in the entire world, learn about Taiwan’s turbulent times by exploring a very interesting dark tourism site and former prison museum, discover Amis indigenous or the local fishing culture or perhaps just explore Green Island’s natural beauty! 

Worried about getting around Green Island? Ripping around this volcanic island is best on a scooter or a motorbike, but most rental locations require a driver’s license. No license? No sweat. Grab a bike from your hotel (check ahead of time, but some do have complementary bikes for guests) or rent when you get to the island. 

There are probably close to 40 different dive sites, both shore entry and boat dives that we haven’t listed here and suggest if you are interested in more dive spots in and around Green Island you need to contact a local dive tour operator or dive shop in the region or check out Deepblu’s dedicated search page on Green Island here.

Penghu

If you are looking to get away from the bigger crowds, Penghu is located off the west coast of Tainan and is one of the more remote dive destinations in Taiwan! It’s also a popular outdoor recreation destination with many visitors participating in SUP or Kite Surfing in and around the island archipelago. Diving is becoming a popular hobby and pastime on Penghu for Taiwan residents and visitors to the country. Expect to find others out in and under the waters surrounding Penghu. 

Crystal clear waters off the lush green coast of Penghu.
Crystal clear waters off the coast of Penghu. Currents are strong in Penghu and the destination has become popular for “Drift Diving”

Why do divers love visiting Penghu? For one it’s the fantastic array of sea life and the pristine coral. In fact, the Penghu archipelago has one of the healthiest and most intact coral reefs in Taiwan. It’s also a beautiful tropical island with rich cultural heritage and is less than an hour plane ride from Taipei-Songshan, Taichung, and Kaohsiung with multiple flights daily and is reachable by ferry from Tainan or by plane from several airports around Taiwan. If you’re looking to make a trip out to Penghu, you can check these different guides to travelling to the islands here

There are plenty of dive sites located around the string of islands that make up Penghu, but some of the more popular sites that dive operators like Island77 (website is Chinese only, but they speak English), Good Day Dive and PADI Penghu Xingren Diving Training Center will all offer operations to include:

  • 東吉之狼 (Wolf of Donji) – Located within the South Taiwan National Marine Park and just off the coast of Dongji Island (東吉), this is a boat dive site and offers depths of in and around 15-25m with great visibility.
  • 堡壘3號 (Fort #3) – Is located within some protected structures off of Wang’an Island (望安). The depths of diving here range from 15-20m for some of the better experiences. Currents aren’t as significant here as they are on other Penghu dive sites. 
  • The first ever underwater mailbox in Taiwan was placed about 150 meters offshore from Suogang Village in Magong City in about 4-6m of water. It’s definitely one of many underwater attractions that can be found by donning a mask, fins and a snorkel (or tank). 

If we can share anything across our Ultimate Guides of Taiwan, it’s that Taiwan has an ecosystem that is very diverse (and this includes its ocean ecosystems). The climate in Penghu is different from other parts of the country and this includes above and below sea level. Surface water temperatures in Penghu in the winter time hover around 21C. For many this means a 5mm wetsuit with a hood. Transition from the first to second thermocline and you’ll be dipping into the high teens. Penghu is also becoming well-known for “drift diving” as the archipelago is positioned along one of the strongest ocean currents on Earth. If you are a beginner diver or perhaps even a novice diver, please approach diving in Penghu with caution. It’s really windy too. Which means many sites are inaccessible for periods throughout the year. It doesn’t mean that Penghu isn’t a fantastic dive and snorkel destination, it just means you should be prepared and consult with local dive shops or operators when going out into the waters. 

There are dozens of different dive sites, both shore entry and boat dives that we haven’t listed here and suggest if you are interested in more dive spots in and around Penghu you need to contact a local dive tour operator or dive shop in the region or check out Deepblu’s dedicated search page on Penghu here.

Orchid Island (蘭嶼) 

Orchid Island (also known as Lanyu) is also a volcanic island that was created through magma spewing from the ocean. The island is surrounded nearly entirely by coral reefs, and the warmer currents draw a variety of colorful and active schools of fish. Orchid Island also has a rather mountainous interior which is beautifully forested and is perfect for hikes and exploring when you’re not diving below the surface. The diving experience on Orchid Island is really fantastic with both hard and soft corals, walls, swim-throughs and other structures, both natural and artificial. 

Long boats on the beaches in front of Orchid Island Taiwan.
Long boats on the beaches in front of Orchid Island Taiwan. The cultural experiences in Taiwan are amazing.

One such structure is a Korean freighter that was capsized and sunk during a typhoon in 1983. The ship broke into three major sections and is located at depths ranging from 20-40 meters. Green turtles, tuna, sea fans, lionfish, pufferfish, and other marine life are abundant here. Dive sites like The Blue Hole, is located near Kai Yuan Harbor and features a unique swim-through that opens out onto a stunning reef. This blog post did a great job showcasing some of the other major dive sites link the Blue Hole, Twin Lion’s Sea Cave and others. If you are thinking about heading to Orchid Island be sure to check out Nick Kembel’s guide to Lanyu for all of the other experiences available to you.

There are lots of different dive sites, both shore entry and boat dives that we haven’t listed here and suggest if you are interested in more dive spots in and around Orchid Island you need to contact a local dive tour operator or dive shop in the region or check out Deepblu’s dedicated search page on Orchid island here.

Xiaoliuqiu (​​小琉球) aka Lambai Island

Xiaoliuqiu is a small island just under 7km squared and is located off the western coast of Taiwan, near the city of Kaohsiung. One of the more recently popular diving sites in Taiwan, the island is poised to become even more popular. It’s a bit of a hidden gem in Taiwan and very accessible due to its proximity to major cities and transportation networks like Taiwan’s High Speed Rail. It’s also stunning and has great diving. Xiaoliuqiu is a beautiful coral island and is home to several nesting beaches for green sea turtles. In terms of sites where you can swim with Green Sea Turtles, Xiaoliuqiu is possibly the best in Taiwan and can go toe to toe with other destinations. In addition to the surrounding coral reefs, there are also several wrecks and artificial reefs to explore.  

This map was credited to Dapeang Bay National Scenic Area Administration and sourced from dive-in-taiwan.com

Above the water, there are some amazing sights like the famous Vase Rock and Beauty Cave to check out along with the islands many temples.  The island is also well known for its seafood and all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurants. Don’t take our word for it, check out this self-proclaimed “Insanely detailed” guide or this guide about the diving and experiences available on Xiaoliuqiu by Freedive Nomad.

There are lots of different dive sites, both shore entry and boat dives that we haven’t listed here and suggest if you are interested in more dive spots in and around Xiaoliuqiu you need to contact a local dive tour operator or dive shop in the region or check out Deepblu’s dedicated search page on Xiaoliuqiu here.

Western Taiwan

Western Taiwan doesn’t feature many dive sites, as this side of the country is much more sandy and visibility is low. 

Planning your Taiwan Dive Vacation 

There’s a fair bit to consider when you’re planning an international diving holiday and we’ve put together some key information to help you kick off your trip plan. If you have any questions or want to chat with someone living on the island, hit up our Facebook Page or some of the niche Facebook Groups on diving in Taiwan (see below) or send us an email at yourtaiwanoutdoors@gmail.com

When to Go Diving in Taiwan

We’ll come out and say that the diving season in Taiwan is mostly in the summertime between July and October. While the water temperatures (see below) allow for diving all year, the winter season brings waves to the northeast coast which are far too large to allow for good diving. 

Water Temperature and Weather

The average ocean water temperature in Taiwan fluctuates a fair bit with peak travel season between May and October boasting average water temperatures between around 28°C (or around 83℉). During this period there are some weather divers need to consider, including typically rainy months (or periods of rain) during May and June – these are called Plum Rain or ​​梅雨. The months of July and August are typically monsoon months and typhoon season in Taiwan extends from July to September. While recent years have seen reduced numbers of Typhoons hitting land in Taiwan, typically the island receives 3-5 typhoons a year. Between November and April is considered low-season here in Taiwan and the average ocean water temperatures range between 20-22°C (or  68-72℉). 

Crystal clear waters of Orchid Island with a beautiful coastline.
Crystal clear waters of Orchid Island with average winter water temperatures of 22 degrees means amazing diving all year round.

Do you need a wetsuit when Scuba Diving in Taiwan?

Choosing the right wetsuit really depends on what kind of diving you’ll be doing. While that depends on comfort levels, but also where you’re diving. If you’re heading to the south of Taiwan, expect to use a 3mm wetsuit even in the winter. If you’re beginning to head north or visiting some of the off-shore islands in the Autumn or Winter, the water water definitely cools down and you could add a 5mm hood and or a 5mm jacket & hood to the 3mm wetsuit. In the north of Taiwan, particularly in the winter time,you’ll be best served with either a 7mm or 5mm 2 piece. If you are diving in northern Taiwan in the summer a 3mm wetsuit should suffice.

Average Water Visibility in Taiwan

Water visibility varies across the island of Taiwan and throughout the year. Visibility has been recorded between 20-30 m (or 65-98 ft). It’s pretty fantastic. While the winters in the north bring a bigger swell and waves that are conducive to shore dives (as much), the winter months in Taiwan’s south bring some of the better visibility. 

Typhoons are slow moving and as we mentioned above, mostly occur between July and October. These are major storms that bring significant rainfall and wind and can cause major damage and even a loss of life. They also kick up the oceans quite a bit and this means it usually takes a few days for waters to clear and the waves to calm down. Even during these murkier times, there are often dive sites in Taiwan that can still be accessed after a typhoon rolls past. 

Dive Shops, Tours and Gear Rentals

Many of the locations listed below are multi-functional dive outfits offering dive courses, equipment rentals and purchasing, tour operators and generally function as facilitators of good times underwater. We’ve listed these below in the regions they are based out of, but many offer dive experiences across Taiwan. Some are Mandarin-only, but many are not and offer bilingual services. They are listed in no particular order. Please conduct thorough research and assessment of operators before employing them or their equipment to ensure they are experienced and safe operators. 

Dive Shops and Operators in Southern Taiwan
Dive Shops and Operators in Eastern Taiwan

There are several dozen dive shops, scuba instructors, tour operators and other services across Taiwan that have not been listed here. If you know of a good and trustworthy operator that isn’t listed here, please send an email to yourtaiwanoutdoors@gmail.com and we’ll review and put it up online if appropriate.

Get Inspired and Find Your Dive Tribe!

We’ve put together a list of resources to help you on your way and get you inspired to visit Taiwan’s amazing dive sites in the future. There are some fantastic resources out there like this Underwater Photographer’s Guide to Taiwan and seemingly endless Instagram accounts showcasing the great diving in Taiwan. For now, wer’v

Podcasts

While there are certainly plenty of awesome diving podcasts that can be found online that showcase all of the amazing intricacies of the sport, Taiwan’s diving community has been putting out some great content for a while now and we think it’s worth giving them a shout out here:

  • Freedive Cafe – One of the first (if not the first) fully dedicated podcasts to the sport of Freediving, Donny and the team at Freedive Taiwan have put together over 100 long-form conversations about the sport. 
  • Total Beginner Freedive Podcast – Raymond from Freedive Nomad has dipped his toe into the podcasting world and is putting together a fantastic archive of practical information on how to get started on your Freediving journey.
  • Dive Happy – Ok ok ok. This isn’t a dedicated diving podcast on Taiwan’s scene but rather it features Asian-wide content. We’ve linked to the Taiwan episode for those interested in giving it a listen.
Check out the Total Beginner Freedive Podcast if you’re exploring the sport for the first time or the fiftieth.

The underwater world of freediving, scuba diving and snorkelling is a photogenic one to say the least. Sometimes photo galleries of stunning underwater images are all some of us need to get off the couch and into the water (whether for the 1st time or the 50th). That’s why we’ve put together a short list of some Instagram Accounts, YouTube Channels and Facebook Groups that may motivate you to pick Taiwan as your next diving holiday destination.

YouTube

Instagram

Facebook Groups

As we’ve mentioned in some of our other Ultimate Travel Guides of Taiwan, Facebook Groups are a great resource for tips, travel ideas and meeting other people. We’ve put together a short-list of some of the more active and resource Facebook Groups for the diving community in Taiwan here:

  • Taiwan Scuba Diving – https://www.facebook.com/groups/181795945602284
  • Taiwan’s Freediving Syndicate – A place to share knowledge, organize events, find dive buddies, sell freedive related gear and find help regarding freediving destinations.
  • 台灣自由潛水 Freediving in Taiwan – 找個潛水夥伴😀拋售設備😁分享、交流與提問👍 學習自由潛水😍. A meeting point for freedivers in Taiwan, to find a freediving buddy, sell relevant diving equipment or ask advice about diving in Taiwan..
  • 自由潛水 – A group dedicated to free diving in Taiwan. Posts and content are mostly in Mandarin Chinese, but the translate function offers an opportunity to find some great insight into freediving in Taiwan. This group prides itself on providing information to make safe freediving experiences in Taiwan.
  • Taiwan Freediving Association – TFA provides a full range of freediving courses (AIDA, WSF, Apnea Academy, FII, SSI and CMAS) from beginner to instructor level, in both English and Chinese. We offer equipment rental and sales from basic to professional level, and can also offer personalized training or training camps. We also organize AIDA/WSF competitions for national Taiwan records

Published by Taiwan Outdoors

Taiwan Outdoors is the pre-eminent source for Taiwan's outdoor recreation and adventure-based experiences on the Internet.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: