Castaway on Orchid Island | 蘭嶼 Lanyu
Being lost through the moody Pacific Ocean, I land on the remote Orchid Island (Lanyu). Around 65km southeast of Taitung, this volcanic island is made up of steep mountains with rocky coastlines and wild goats. Besides the strong Pacific island vibe, the mysterious island feels more like the Jurassic World movie scene.
Under the high winds and challenging sea conditions, I come onshore to the isolated island. I discover quite a few secret spots between the giant rocks and cliffs, such as the Iranmeylek Secret Lagoon and Yeyin Spring along the beach, with plenty of risks, danger, and enjoyment. After coming through the mystical Jikarahem Cave, the waves bring me the purest sound and energy at Lover's Cave.
I follow the rocky landscape, stepping into the jungle, exploring the land once underneath the ocean. After hours of climbing and exploring, I finally meet a friend from the local Tao tribe in front of the iconic Sky Tree. He takes me to a secret opening closer to where his ancestors first arrived on the island, and from there, I start my adventure under the sea level.
The island is known as the paradise for divers. Along with a few diving experts, I start my first diving experience here. The underwater canyons are covered with colorful corals and sea creatures. We continue diving into the stunning Blue Cave, feeling the intensity of the deep blue sea.
Orchid Island is very different than any other place in Taiwan and has the best-preserved indigenous culture anywhere in the country. The indigenous Tao people are of Austronesian descent and speak their own language. They believe everything has its spirit, have many taboos around themselves and the island.
Tao people rely on the sea for survival, as much of their traditions and lifestyle are centered on fishing. I join the captain for a ride around the island on their traditional Tao canoe (tatala). These canoes are made from planks of wood and are painted with red, white, and black. The boat usually has the traditional sun image (red and black circles and sun rays), which warn off evil spirits.
After the ocean's adventure, I am invited to Yeyin Village to tour the local's underground houses. In the old days, they build their homes much lower than the ground level to avoid the strong winds and weather the storms. I get to see the authentic way to smoke and preserve the flying fish and know the traditional heirlooms, costumes, and the warrior's armor. I am beyond impressed by listening and learning Tao people's culture and stories from village to village. It makes me feel so close to their roots with great respect and admiration.
Follow those handsome goats on the island, I come to Ja-langoina Grassland where you could see the Lesser Orchid Island on the horizon. The locals say God first made the Lesser Orchid Island and realized it is too small, making another one as the Orchid Island today. It is fascinating how every corner or object has its own tale from ancient times, and I would love to part of the story and continue my castaway life on this island.
Place to Stay
Address: 952, Taitung County, Lanyu Township, 朗島村17-4號
Phone: +886 921 449 777
藍海屋潛水渡假村 Blue Ocean House Dive Resort
Address: 952, Taitung County, Lanyu Township, 紅頭村1-8號
Phone: +886 988 331 116
Place to Eat
Mexican & Local Fusion Cuisine
Address: Lanyu Township, 朗島村 玉女岩旁
Phone: +886 905 655 280
有一間燒烤-東清店 BBQ Dong Chin
Address: 952, Taitung County, Lanyu Township, 東清村7鄰163之5號
Phone: 0972 887 424
Mermaid and cats 人魚和貓
Brunch and local dishes
Address: 952, Taitung County, Lanyu Township, 東清村23-3號
Phone: +886 8 973 2943
The Epicurean Caf'e 無餓不坐風味餐坊
Local Tao Cuisine and international dishes.
Address: 952, Taitung County, Lanyu Township, 漁人77號
Phone: +886 8 973 1623
Wen Wen Taro Ice Shop 雯雯芋頭冰
Local Taro ice and desserts.
Address: 952, Taitung County, Lanyu Township
Phone: +886 912 075 399
Things to Do
Diving/ Free Diving
Tec Only Lanyu Diving Center
Address: 952, Taitung County, Lanyu Township, 朗島村3-1號2樓
Phone: +886 8 973 2151
Tatala Tao Canoe Experience
東清村 東清灣 Dong Chin Village
Not available during Fishing Season and Winter.
Tao Underground House Tour 地下屋
野銀村, Guided Tours available in Yeyin Village, Reservation Only
A crater lake from the old volcano. You would need local guides to take you there, the route is very challenging and can be dangerous.
Places to See
We have selected and saved our picks on the island. Please note that many of the secret spots are not accessible via cars or motorcycle, you would need to climb or get to those places by foot. We strongly recommend to consult with your local guides or hosts for your visits. And some spots could be dangerous and risky under bad weather conditions. It is an island full of places for adventures but also risks and danger.
Check out our favorite spots on Orchid Island: