Swimming with giant sea turtles in Taiwan

I haven’t written much about my adventures in Taiwan, although I really must. It’s only relatively recently that I actually visited the island after years of believing that it would be just like Mainland China.

Once I finally got there, however, I realised I was both right and wrong!

Taiwan actually has everything I love about Mainland China but is just, how do I put this, a little bit better!

I’ll elaborate on the reasons why I love Taiwan (and think you should visit) but first, have a read about my experiences of swimming with GIANT SEA TURTLES and other adventures on Xiao Liuqiu, a coral island off the southwestern coast of Taiwan. I wrote about it all for Lonely Planet.

They don’t eat people, do they?!

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment I first saw one of the turtles that live in the seas around Xiao Liuqiu.

We decided to swim in the area around the Vase Rock formation, at the northern tip of Xiao Liuqiu island, as we’d heard it was a good place to see turtles.

Vase Rock is a good place to see turtles feeding on the seagrass.

I’d been told that they were large but I don’t think I had any comprehension of what I was about to see.

As I was entering the water from the beach my friend, who was already in the sea, told me that there was a turtle feeding on seagrass, just in front of me in the shallows. I quickly plopped my face under the water to take a look and got such a shock!

The turtle was ENORMOUS, by far the biggest creature I’ve ever been in the water with.

Its shell must have easily been 1.5 metres long and over a metre wide, and there it was just happily floating around the corals that lie just metres off the beach.

I was so overwhelmed by how large and close it was that I suddenly panicked and had to come up for air to regain my senses – green sea turtles definitely aren’t man-eaters but in that panicked first moment I wasn’t so sure!

In the end, in this spot, we swam with at least two turtles, who were both equally gigantic. It was both a thrilling and slightly daunting experience. Being in the water with something so large was a very new experience for me so I’ll admit I was wary. But, the turtles really didn’t seem bothered by our presence, even when the waves buffetted us towards them! They were just very chilled out, nibbling away on the grass and expertly navigating the choppy waters. It was such a privilege to share their space for a little while.

I wish I could have got photos of them but I didn’t, so this experience will have to remain forever recorded in my memory rather than on the screen!

Turtle photo by Anna Wangler on Unsplash.


2 Replies to “Swimming with giant sea turtles in Taiwan”

  1. Piers Newberry says: Reply

    Ah you really captured the thrill of seeing turtle No1 under water. I met my first turtle in Panama, it was amazed, I was amazed, we both looked each other over and then he darted off when it got embarrassing.
    We also saw them in Liuqiu island. It was such a fun few days zooming around to micro tourist attractions. I wonder how small exactly the attractions will be: whether in a decade there will be a sign stating 5 cents to see my amusing rock.
    Anyway I enjoy your writing and thanks for that.

  2. Thanks Piers, cool to hear you’ve visited Liuqiu too. Yes, I’ll be interested to see if it manages to keep its quite low-key approach to tourism. Hope so!

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