Green Island, formerly known as the Island of Fire (火燒島), is a small but vibrant island referred to as a stunning gem of Taiwan. Tucked away in the Pacific Ocean, this unique volcanic island is about 33 km (21 mi) off the eastern coast of Taiwan and has a land area of 15 km² (5.8 mi²) at high tide and 17.3 km² (6.69 mi²) at low tide.
With a rich history, interesting landmarks, and breathtaking natural beauty, this island has so much to offer that visiting Green Island will leave you feeling invigorated and refreshed.
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For more photos, please watch the following video on Green Island.
The best way to get around this fantastic island is by scooter, as most scenic spots are along the round-the-island road. It takes less than 2 hours to go around the 19-km road by scooter.
Human Rights Memorial Park
One of the most unique and awe-inspiring attractions on Green Island is Green Island White Terror Memorial Park. Covering an area of 32 ha (79 ac), this park was built in 2001 by the Taiwanese government to commemorate those who fought for Taiwan’s freedom, democracy, and human rights during Taiwan’s martial law period.
Besides the distinct Human Rights Monument and the old political prisons that have turned into exhibition areas, the spectacular landscape around the park impresses visitors the most.
Strikingly rising from the ocean in the island’s northeastern corner, General Rock is one of the three giant coral reefs adjacent to Human Rights Memorial Park. This impressive geological formation was named for its resemblance to a general wearing a steel helmet.
Elephant Trunk Rock
Elephant Trunk Rock is a fantastic rock formation with an arched sea cave located in front of Oasis Villa Stone. This natural rock is so named because it resembles the head and trunk of an elephant. It is interesting that when visitors take photos of the arched sea cave, another striking coral rock in the distance can be in the middle of the cave.
The rock was also referred to as “the gate of hell” because it was the only passage for political prisoners to enter the Oasis Villa when they first arrived at the political prison in front of the rock formation.
Niutou Hill (Ox Head Hill)
Niutou Hill (牛頭山) is a hill protruding from the rocky beach in the island’s northeastern corner. Surrounded by sea on three sides, the hill is shaped like a crouching ox with curling horns facing the ocean.
The peak of the hill is a green grassland. It is a great location to overlook the Pacific Ocean and capture the best sunrise and sunset views from Green Island. From Niutou Hill, visitors can also see Guanyin Cave in the distance.
Youzihu and Wangong Cave
Youzihu (柚子湖) is an abandoned prehistoric village at the bottom of a cliff. Nestled on the island’s east coast, this site is the first village on Green Island. Besides the remnants of the old houses built with local coral reef rocks, this area also features breathtaking scenery with spectacular crags.
Wangong Cave (彎弓洞), also known as Wangong Arch, is another must-see attraction on Green Island. This stunning arch-shaped sea cave is the largest on Green Island, measuring 10 meters (33 feet) in height and 15 meters (49 feet) in length.
Blue Cave (藍洞) is another highlight of Youzihu. It is a fantastic natural sea cave hidden at the foot of a giant coral reef. The cave has a depth of 5 meters (16 feet) and is an excellent destination for diving and cliff jumping, but it is only accessible during low tide.
Guanyin Cave (觀音洞)
With an eye-catching temple-like gate on the roadside, Guanyin Cave is a natural underground stalactite cave dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy (觀音菩薩) because there is a stalagmite resembling the deity near the entrance of the cave.
Legend has it that some fishermen who got lost at sea were saved after they followed a fireball that guided them to the statue of Guanyin in the cave. Since then, the cave has gradually become famous for worshiping the Goddess of Mercy.
Zhaori Hot Spring (朝日溫泉)
Consisting of three round outdoor pools near the ocean, a spa pool, and five terrace-like pools, Zhaori Hot Spring is one of the few known natural saltwater hot springs worldwide. Zhaori Hot Spring is as famous as the springs on Kyushu Island in Japan and Sicily in Italy because it is said that the springs have healing properties.
With temperatures ranging between 60°C and 70°C, the clear springs are from seawater and underground water heated by volcanic lava. The spring has been famous since the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945).
Boasting the world’s deepest underwater mailbox, this unique postbox was established at a depth of 11.5 meters (37.7 feet) on the sandy ocean floor of the famous Shilang diving area (石朗潛水區) in May 2018. Located about 60 meters off the coast, this mailbox is modeled after the rare pygmy seahorse that can be found in Green Island’s waters.
Unique underwater postcards are available at nearby dive shops. Diving tourists can go through the picturesque walkway before they dive to drop their postcards. The postcards dropped in the mailbox are collected once a week by a diving postman.
Haishengping (海參坪) is a moon-shaped coral reef bay surrounded by odd-shaped volcanic rock formations, including the Little Great Wall, Sleeping Beauty Rock, Pekinese Dog Rock, and Confucius Rock.
The Little Great Wall has 400-m rocky steps leading to a pavilion on the top of the hill. It is a great location to take in the beautiful scenery around Sleeping Beauty Rock and Pekinese Rock, which are this area’s most fascinating geographical features.
Dabaisha (大白沙) is located in the southwest corner of Green Island. It is a white sand beach formed by gravel, shell debris, and coral pieces. It is the largest and most complete beach on Green Island. With a walkway stretching out into the ocean from the shore, this beach is an excellent location for diving and snorkeling.
Sika Deer Ecological Park
Covering an area of 23 hectares (56.8 acres), the Sika Deer Ecological Park (梅花鹿生態園區) is located on a hill south of Human Rights Memorial Park. One of the park’s most impressive features is that visitors can observe the living habits of sika deer, musk pigs, goats, and mini horses up close, and they can also interact with them by feeding them with green leaves.
Various art installations are set up in the park for visitors to take pictures. There are also some elevated lookouts for visitors to take in the stunning views of the ocean and mountains around.
Green Island Lighthouse
The lighthouse is an iconic landmark of Green Island. It was built in 1939 during the Japanese colonial era. It was constructed with funds from the United States because residents rescued all of the 503 passengers and 330 crew members aboard SS President Hoover when the largest cruise liner in the world at the time was stranded off Green Island en route from Japan to the Philippines on December 11, 1937.
The Green Island Lighthouse was made of reinforced concrete, with a height of 33.3 m (109.3 ft) and a stairway of 150 steps. It was rebuilt in 1948 and renovated in 2020. The Taitung County Government designated the lighthouse as a historical site, and it has been open to the public since September 2013. From June 2019 to October 2020, the lighthouse was further renovated, which is what you can see now.