Tazzie and Co.,
Got a chance to visit Xiao Liuqiu this weekend with the masses during moon festival and although the island was a bit crowded with roaming gangs of scooters (40 + in a pack) the snorkeling was incredible. Getting there wasn’t bad at all, TRA to Kaohsiung, Bus to Donggang ($101 NT), Ferry to Xiao Liu Qiu ($410 NT). There are a couple spots on the island to snorkel and probably 6 or 7 shops where you can rent equipment if you need it. Reivews of some of the snorkel sites:
Vase Rock - Great spot to search out hidden sea life and fish hidding in the coral fingers stretching out to sea. This site was the most crowded of all the dive spots as the Vase rock provides a great photo opp. for all the big groups. The visibility here wasn’t that great though as most of the water was pretty active because of the ferries going in an out along with the glass bottom boats so close by as Vase Rock is right next to the harbour.
Geban Bay - Easy introduction to what snorkeling on the island has to offer. Good amount of beautiful coral and good aquatic life. Popular beginning snorkel spot to so be prepared to fight it out with some big groups or head out to deeper waters. This was probably our most anticipated snorkel as we saw some turtles about 10 m out to see when we were looking out on the water at the Black Devil Cave (Geban Bay is right next to the cave area). Unfortunately no turtles but not a bad spot to snorkel.
HouShi Skirt Reef - Hands down the most impressive site on the island. This side of the island seemed to be a bit quieter. The reef was frequented by snorkel groups but nothing nearly as crowded as the previous two. We snorkeled this reef on three separate occasions and were blown away everytime. The water was incredibly clear (reminiscent of blue kool aid you could say) and visibility had to be upwards of 25-35m. Come here early morning (pre-7am) to beat the groups and have the place to yourself. Currents were a factor here but tide was out in the early morning and the water lulled us into a tranquil state that was a phenomenal way to start the day. We spent probably two hours in the water exploring the alleyways in and out of the fingers extending from the coral island.
Have fun! let me know if you make it out there!