Taiwan // The Taiwan Strait Islands //


The archipelago’s fourth-largest island, WANGAN (望安島; wàngān dǎo), is one of the highlights of a visit to the Penghu Islands, with secluded beaches, one of Taiwan’s best-preserved traditional fishing villages and the chain’s only nesting sites for the endangered green sea turtle. As with other islands, the best way to get around here is by scooter, especially if you want to see all the main sights.

One of the island’s biggest treats is the captivating Zhongshe Historic Village (中社古厝; zhōngshè gŭcuò) on the west side. Written records of the village date back about two hundred years, but locals claim it was first established about three hundred years ago. Although there is a small, ageing population, most of the houses have long since been abandoned, leaving the tiled roofs and coral walls to collapse. The upside of this neglect is that the village has retained its original dynastic layout, giving it a timeless aura. Just north of the village is Tiantai Hill (天台山; tiāntáishān; 53m), an excellent spot for a panoramic view of the island. On top of the hill is “God’s Footprint” (仙腳印; xiānjiǎoyìn) where, according to legend, the footprint of Lu Dong Bin – one of the most renowned of China’s “Eight Immortals” – is said to be embedded. According to the tale, the footprint was left after Lu stopped to relieve himself while walking through the Taiwan Strait. His other footprint is allegedly on top of a cliff on the east side of nearby Hua Islet (花嶼; huāyŭ).

About one kilometre north of the ferry pier is the Wangan Green Sea Turtle Conservation Center (望安綠蠵龜觀光保育中心; wàngān lǜxīguī guānguāng bǎoyù zhōngxīn), a museum with exhibits on all marine turtles endemic to the region. Wangan’s beaches are the only nesting sites in Penghu where green sea turtles return regularly to lay eggs, and the museum is mostly geared towards educating visitors about the importance of not disturbing them. The turtles usually mate in March and April and typically crawl onto Wangan’s southwestern beaches in May and June to lay eggs. If you’re visiting during this time, or even later in the summer, there’s a chance you could see them. However, access to these beaches is often restricted during this period.

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