Penghu Islands Holidays
Taiwan might not be the first place you think of for a beachside holiday, but that’s exactly what makes Penghu Islands holidays so special. Made up of 64 islands off the western coast of Taiwan, warm summers draw sun-seekers. Come winter, the Islands become windswept and are perfect for surfing and windsurfing.
Though the Penghu Islands (also known as the Pescadores) have a coloured history of imperialism and colonisation, today the archipelago has a classic Taiwanese heart. A land of ox-carts, fish-traps and stone-walled fields, visiting the Penghu Islands is like taking a trip back in time.
Traditional homes and more than 100 temples colour the natural landscape, and surrounding it all is an innumerable number of untouched beaches for you to explore. The islands’ main town Magong is the first point of interest for visitors and offers direct flights from Taipei.
From Magong, you can take your pick of the beaches on the main island, named Penghu, or hire a boat to find a patch of sand all to yourself. Of the beaches near Magong, most popular is Shanshui, Aimen, Neian. Paisha Island is home to the Penghu Aquarium and 300-year-old Banyan tree, while Hsi Island houses the historic Hsi fort.
Eat & Drink
It’s probably no surprise that the best places to eat in the Penghus are seafood restaurants. Magong offers the most variety, but you’ll never be far from a fresh piece of fish or some fried noodles with squid on your Penghu Islands holiday.
Another must-try are the local oysters, which are much larger and tastier than the ones you’ll often find on the mainland. It’s impossible to pick a winner when it comes to who has the best food but judging by popularity alone, Lai Fu is definitely one of the best. Xin Xing Seafood Restaurant is another contender and makes things easy for non-Mandarin speakers with its English menu.
Where to Stay
Though off the international tourist radar, The Penghu Islands can get very busy with domestic tourists come summer. This means that reservations are required, but there is a reasonable selection of accommodation for such a small destination.
Some of the best places to stay in Magong include the MF Hotel and Green Homestay, while the aptly named Ocean Hotel is tough to beat for location. Elsewhere on Penghu Island you’ll find a select number of B&Bs, such as the Penghu Sunrise Bed and Breakfast located about 15 minutes from Magong City. If you don’t mind roughing it a bit, Penghu Island also has some secluded camping spots which you can have almost to yourself at most times of the year.
While you’re better off leaving a shopping spree for a visit to capital Taipei, the Penghu Islands still offer an abundance of options for you to nab a few souvenirs. Without a doubt the most popular gift you can pick up from the Penghu Islands is brown sugar cake, a delicacy introduced to Penghu by immigrants from Okinawa.
There are quite a few pastry shops in Magong that sell this smooth textured cake that is light to eat. Some offer home and airport delivery services so you can get the freshest cake possible but, let’s be honest, once you’ve tried the local brown sugar cake, it’s highly likely you’ll be unable to resist it long enough to take all the way home!
Penghu Islands Like a Local
Greg Nolan might originally be an Australian, but these days he’s teaching the locals to ride the increasing popular waves around Penghu. Virtually an unknown sport to locals until recently, Greg offers good value surf lessons as well as board hire if you already have some skills but don’t want to bring your own board from home.
Buses are infrequent in Penghu so another thing you’ll need in Penghu if you want to go surfing or explore the beaches is a scooter. There are numerous places in Magong to rent one, but unlike destinations such as Phuket and Bali, renters insist you have an international license.