Taiwan Strait Islands

The very existence of Taiwan’s outlying islands comes as a surprise to many foreign visitors, although the three main archipelagos are rapidly growing as domestic tourist destinations. Attractions include traditional villages, beaches, birdwatching, marine life and, in Kinmen and Matsu, a plethora of intriguing ex-military sights. Both Kinmen and Matsu lie far closer to mainland China than they do to Taiwan itself, and for decades – until relations thawed between Taipei and Beijing – both island groups were effectively strings of defensive strongholds. Ironically, despite suffering years of bombardment, much traditional domestic architecture survived as the non-military economy was stagnant and many Fujianese-style houses were simply left while their owners sought safety elsewhere.

Penghu has some perfect sand beaches, pristine waters and diveable coral reefs, while reliable breezes make the ocean here one of Asia's top spots for windsurfing.

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Taiwan Strait Islands.