Life doesn’t get much better than camping on a gorgeous beach, barbecuing and enjoying the crystal clear ocean water in the middle of summer! It’s a little known secret that there are a number of brilliant camping spots in Penghu and that almost the entire archipelago is open for freedom camping. Freedom camping means that within reason, campers may camp throughout the islands (except on private property) without permits or fees. To encourage such outdoor pursuits the county government has invested significant time and money in providing excellent facilities (toilets, showers, bbqs) for campers at a number of the best beaches.
White sand beaches where the buzz from the city is left behind you abound in Penghu. In these places all you’ll hear is waves lapping the sandy shoreline and the gentle summer breeze rustling the grass. Lintou Park, Longmen Beach and Neian Beach are some of the finest examples Penghu has to offer in the way of beach camping. These are all beautiful beaches, with few visitors that are fully equipped and free to use. All you’ll need is a map from the visitor centre, a scooter and your camping gear. Stock up on food and water at one of the supermarkets in Magong city and even head to the daily fresh market to prepare fresh veggies for a BBQ. See information on Lintou and Neian below and information on Longmen here.
About 20 minutes from Magong, is Longmen Village, which has one of the best swimming beaches around. Getting there isn’t particularly straightforward, but this keeps the beach quiet and undeveloped. Head out on the 204 and drive past Aimen and Lintou, all the way to Longmen Village. Once you get to the village keep going a little further until you see a small temple on your left. Turn left down the narrow path just before the temple. Then keeping left, make your way down the small country road, passing grazing cows, goat sheds, peanut fields and a few tombs. After a few minutes you’ll reach Longmen Beach…
If on your way you come across a small secluded rocky beach, that’s not it, you’ve gone too far past the temple. Keep following the road along the coast and you’ll eventually find Longmen. The beach here is stunning and has recently been equipped with quirky army inspired toilet, shower (salt water) and shade facilities. With its new facilities, the beach makes for another excellent camping spot – just bring the bbq. The sand, though full of coral, is blindingly white and the water clear and azure. It’s safe for swimming and isn’t as rocky as Aimen Beach or as over-popuated with tourists as Shanshui Beach. Thankfully the locals seem to have dealt with the only issue, one of trash blowing ashore from fishing boats, which became a problem during the windy months. Though there may still be a bit of trash blowing around things have greatly improved over the years. If you’re looking for something really chilled out and prefer to be one of the only people on the beach, this place is perfect.
The economic future of Penghu has always been a contentious topic for discussion amongst Pēnghú rén (Penghu people). The islands’ economy mainly revolves around tourism and fishing, though those can be tentative industries. For much of the year Penghu is devoid of tourists, and fishing is difficult due to extreme wind. With increasing pressure to find a solution to the county’s economic woes, a number of controversial proposals have been hotly debated. Plans to turn the archipelago into an ‘island Vegas’ or ‘mini-macau’ were strongly rejected by popular vote last year, and another plan to sell off islets for use as nuclear waste dumping sites were met with protests. Now it seems the locals have turned to more sustainable means of carving out a future for themselves. Penghu County, with the support of the national government, has just announced plans to harness its most abundant resource – the wind.
Upon setting foot on the Pēnghú archipelago, a profound sense of ocean culture immediately embraces you. It’s clear from the outset that the ocean has weathered and shaped this place and the people who live here. Catching and gathering the ocean’s bounty has been the staple livelihood for generations of Pēnghú rén (Penghu people). The ocean continues to play an integral part in daily life here, as seen in the baskets of fish, shrimp and squid that lay drying on the wayside and traditional coral walls that dot the landscape, sheltering the little food that grows in the islands’ arid soil. Continue reading