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Matsu Islands 2: Dongju Island, Dongquan Lighthouse, Mysterious Little Bay, and Chipinglong Archaeological Site

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: March 22, 2022
If you are looking for a place to get away, Dongju Island of Matsu is the perfect place. This is an island with breathtaking coastal landscapes like Mysterious Little Bay and white-sand beaches, rich history that can be traced back to 6,000 years ago (Chipinglong), and unique culture and architecture like Dongquan Lighthouse (aka Tungchu Tao Lighthouse). You don’t need a plan or vehicle, and you can just wander around on foot.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: beautiful coast
Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫
I did a 3-day hike with my friend Jeffery Chang 張建舫 in December 2021, and this is the second post of my Matsu series. Please also check my Nangan post for those fantastic places I visited.

Table of Contents:

Trail Information

Trail Name: Dongju Island. You can rent a scooter and visit most of the spots I mentioned. Yet, exploring Dongju Island on foot is the best if you ask me.
Distance: 14.85 km (9.23 miles)
Route type: Loop
Days/Hours Needed: 7 to 8 hours or whatever you like.
Total Ascent/Descent: 408m/ 408m
Best Time to Go: All year-round, but it can be very hot in summer. However, the fog season is between March and May. Therefore, the flights might be canceled due to heavy fog or poor weather conditions.
Permits: Not required
Difficulty Level:
Peaks to Reach: There is no specific peak to reach, but you must visit Dongquan Lighthouse, which was built in 1872.

Personal Enjoyment

Things I Enjoy:

Everything! Although I haven’t visited all the islands and islets on Matsu, Dongju Island is my favorite. Seeing this island during the offseason makes my trip even more pleasant. I don’t think I would enjoy it that much if many people surrounded us. If I must mention, I’ll say the following are the places you can’t skip.
  1. Chilongping Site.
  2. Dapu Inscription and the tiny tied island close to it.
  3. Yulu Trail.
  4. Mysterious Little Bay.
    Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mt. Dongyang Trail
  5. Dongquan Lighthouse.
    Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dongguan LIghthouse
    Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫
  6. Xiniu Trail: I didn’t get to visit this one, but this is an excellent spot, according to my friend Mr. Chang.
    Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Xiniu Islet
    Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫

The Things I Don’t Enjoy:

  1. I don’t see anything I didn’t enjoy so far. If I must complain, I will say we should have stayed on Dongju Island for 2 days instead of just one. We missed some places on Dongju Island.
  2. Also, visiting during the offseason also makes things much more enjoyable. Again, I can’t address this enough.

Map/GPX Data

Date of Hike: December 4, 2021

Route map for 2021-12-04 Dongju-Island-Mastu by Anusha Lee on plotaroute.com

Click Menu in the map to download, print, or share the map.
You can see more options after clicking the Play button.
Click timer to change the speed to meet your condition.

How to Get to Dongju Island and Transport on the Island

First, you must get to Nangan Island. Then, you can either take a ferry from Keelung to Nangan or a flight from Songshan Airport to Nangan Island. As to how to get to Nangan Island, please check my Nangan post for details.

Take the Ferries

Then, you take a ferry from Fu’ao Harbor 福澳港 of Nangan Island to Dongju Island.
There are only 3 ferry schedules between Fau’ao Harbor of Nangan and Meng’ao Harbor 猛澳港 (猛沃港) of Dongju / Qingfan Harbor 青帆港 of Xiju Island: 7:00, 11:00 and 14:30.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Meng'ao Harbor
The ferry trip can be very bumpy, especially for those who suffer from motion sickness.
The ferry routes are different in odd and even months. Please see the following image for details.
Ferries to Dongju/Xiju from Nangan Island
The ferry fare is NT$250 per adult for one trip.

Can I take a Helicopter?

The helicopters are only available when the ferries are canceled due to the bad weather. And there must be at least 4 Matsu registered residents on the passenger list to fly the helicopters. For more information, please check here.

Riding a Scooter on Dongju Island:

Once you arrive at Meng’ao Harbor (the main harbor of Dongju Island), you will be greeted by people who ask you whether you want to rent a scooter. I'm not comfortable with riding a scooter (yes, I put a shame about my Taiwanese heritage), and we had decided to walk around the island anyway. We declined the offer.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
Meng'ao Harbor

About Dongju Island, Dongquan Lighthouse, Mysterious Little Bay, Chipinglong, and More:

Dongju Island, aka Dongquan Island 東莒島

Dongju Island is part of Juguan County. The old name of Juguan County was Bai Quan, meaning white dogs in Chinese because the contours of the mountains on Dongju and Xiju Island looked like dogs. Dong means east, and Xi means west in Chinese. So, those two islands were called Dongquan and Xiquan Island.
After KMT took over Taiwan, the names of both islands were changed to Dongju and Xiju. Ju is the metaphor of taking back the lost land.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
Propaganda slogans from the old days: 軍令如山, 同島一命, meaning obey military orders, and one island one life.

Mysterious Little Bay 神秘小海灣

Mysterious Little Bay is also called Luhe Cliff 呂何崖, and this name came from romantic folklore. Legend has it that two fairies Lu Dongbin 呂洞賓 and He Xiangu 何仙姑 became immortal right here.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mysterious Little Bay
Mysterious Little Bay has become a new tourist attraction.
Mysterious Little Bay is a stunning beach with flawless white sand and rugged cliff shores for visitors. However, this place isn’t as glamourous as it looks for the local Matsu people.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
Other than the romantic folklore, some dark history still lingers at this place that keeps the locals away from here. Mysterious Little Bay remains a forbidden place for the locals for several reasons. Before martial law was lifted in Taiwan, every island of Matsu had a military crematory. The one on Dongju Island was right at Mysterious Little Bay.
In Asian culture, death is taboo. As a crematory venue, Mysterious Little Bay induced more fear than awe toward her beauty.
Under the Martial Law, those soldiers who died ‘accidentally’ were sent to military crematories without much investigation, according to my friend A who served on Matsu Island decades ago. Their ashes were sent home with a certificate thanking them for their sacrifice for the country. If you want to know history during martial law from veterans’ perspective, please check out my first post of the Matsu series, Nangan Island.
Nangan Island of Matsu, Mazu temples
The giant Mazu Statue on Nangan Island
Besides the military crematory, Mysterious Little Bay was also the popular venue for smuggling due to its treacherous terrains that made hiding goods easy. Therefore, this place also meant trouble for the local people.
Now, Mysterious Little Bay has been cleaned up. When we were there, we saw the preparation of the art display was set up. For tourists like me, I enjoy this place. The dark history doesn’t put me off from revisiting Mysterious Little Bay. However, this might make this stunning location less appealing and crowded, which I won’t complain about.
If you want to know Matsu history from veterans' perspectives, you can check my Nangan post for details.

Chipinglong Archaeological Site 熾坪隴考古遺址

Chipinglong Archaeological Site was discovered in 2001 during a survey conducted by the government. Since then, 4 excavations have been carried out, and more than 10,000 pieces of pottery shards, 400 stone implements, and numerous shells and animal bones were discovered.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Chipinglong site
Those artifacts could be traced back to 6,000 years ago (4,000 BC) and proved that the civilization of Matsu began much earlier than the written history.

Dongquan Lighthouse (Tungchu Tao Lighthouse) 東犬燈塔 (東莒燈塔)

Dongquan Lighthouse, aka Dongju Lighthouse or Tungchu Tao Lighthouse, was built in 1872 at the request of the British Government after the Opium War in the Qing Dynasty.
This lighthouse is also the first granite-based lighthouse in Taiwan and Lianjiang County. The height of this lighthouse is 19.5 meters and can send light as far as 31 km away.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mt. Dongyang Trail
The snow-white lighthouse and the 30-meter-long wall make them the unique landmark in Dongju Island. The wall was built for lighthouse staff hiding beside it to shield the strong wind and protect the lanterns they carried from being blown out.
In 1988, Dongquan Lighthouse became the national historic site. This place has also become one of the hottest photo-taking spots among tourists.
There’s an exhibition center to demonstrate the history of this lighthouse. It wasn’t open when we were there. So, if you come to this place, you definitely have to visit the exhibition center.

Dapu Inscription 大埔石刻

Dapu Inscription is a Level 3 Historic Site of Lienchiang County 連江縣縣定古蹟. The urban legend says this inscription is a treasure map. If you can decipher it, you can find the hidden treasure somewhere on Dongju Island.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dapu Inscription
I couldn’t decipher the code (not even trying to be exact). So, I transferred my interests to the small tied island close to it.
dongju-07-7-islet-next-to-Dapu-Inscription-2

My Itinerary

Brief itinerary: Fu'ao Harbor on Nangan Island ➔ Meng'ao Harbor on Dongju Island ➔ Dapu Inscription ➔ Chipinglong Archaeological Site ➔ Yulu Historic Trail ➔ Pavilion to see Lin'ao Islet ➔ Mysterious Little Bay ➔ Dongquan Lighthouse ➔ Fuzheng Village ➔ Meng'ao Harbor on Dongju Island ➔ Fu'ao Harbor on Nangan Island
07:00 Took the ferry from Fu’ao Harbor to Dongju.
Nangan Island of Matsu
The view from Fu'ao Harbor on Nangan Island
07:50 Arrived at Meng’ao Harbor on Dongju Island.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Meng'ao Harbor
08:00 Started exploring Dongju Island. We mostly walk on the footpath/roads.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking

Dapu Inscription

08:22 Arrived at Dapu Inscription. This is also a Level 3 Historic Site of Lienchiang County.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dapu Inscription
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dapu Inscription
The pavilion was built to protect the inscription.
Other than the inscription, you will find a very stylish toilet. You wouldn’t believe it’s a toilet without seeing the signs.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dapu Inscription
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dapu Inscription
You'll find another small temple near the inscription.
A tiny tied islet was very close to this historic site. I went there to explore.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dapu Inscription
The tiny tied island and Xiju Island from the distance
08:53 Reached Dingshan Trail 頂山步道. This Dingshan is not the one at Yangmingshan in Taipei City.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
09:06 Reached a pavilion and oversaw Xiju Island and Meng’ao Harbor. It was difficult to take a long break here because it was extremely windy.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
Overlooking Meng'ao Harbor and Xiju Island from the pavilion
We also reached the higher location and started seeing the famous Dongquan Lighthouse and the villages.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
While on the trail, we saw a tree with a unique tree crown. It’s obvious that this tree was shaped by the strong winds over the years.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
A tree shaped by the strong wind
09:18 Exited Dingshan Trail and reached Tzu Chiang Road 自強路.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
09:22 Reached the police station at Daping Village. A very important archaeological site is across the police station, the Chipinglong Archaeological Site. Those artifacts extracted here prove that human activities were already on Matsu Islands, dating back 6,000 years ago.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Chipinglong site
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Chipinglong site
My friend Mr. Chang participated in a course about the history of this site. He's very kind to share his photos with me here.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Chipinglong site
Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫
08:29 Passed Kuoli Tofu Shop 國利豆腐店. I Google this shop, and it seems to have many good reviews. If you love Tofu, you should give it a shot.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
We found some old houses in the village...
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
and fish in the wind.

Yulu Historic Trail

09:34 Reached the trailhead of Yulu Historic Trail 魚路古道, not the one at Yangmingshan in Taipei City. This trail was used to deliver goods and fish between Daping Village and Dapu Village. Yu means fish, and Lu means way or road in Chinese. Yulu literally means fish road in Chinese.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Yulu Trail
I was checking out the history of Yulu Historic Trail. Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫
Here we could see Lin’ao Islet. Lin’ao Islet is the southernmost point of the Matsu Islands. There are many unique geological formations on this tiny island, but it’s not open to the public. Because of the unique geological features, Lin’ao Islet was listed as a crucial natural landscape of Lianjian County, and one of the 10 major sites of Matsu Geopark.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Yulu Trail
09:50 Passed Dapu Harbor Camp Stop 大埔港營站. From here, we started the exciting coastal hiking with stunning views.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Yulu Trail
The first stop was the rocky shore. We were the only visitors at that place, and we stayed there a little longer to enjoy it.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: secret rock shore
I feel in love with this shore right away.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: secret rock shore
A lone boat and a lone tree.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
I spent a lot of time takeing photos here. Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫
10:04 Reached White Horse King Temple 白馬尊王廟. There is a White Horse King Temple on Nangan Island, too.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: White Horse King Temple
10:32 Reached another pavilion, Dapu Pavilion 大浦觀景涼亭 and overlooked Lin’ao Islet.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Lin'ao Islet
We went through Dapu Village and enjoyed more old Matsu stone houses here.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dapu Village
An old tree and an old house.
10:46 Reached a strange place. It looked like the hill was chopped off for unknown reasons. At least we don’t know. To be honest, it looked ugly.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: beautiful coast
The hill looked ugly and sad.
We passed the ugly hillside erased by bulldozers. There weren’t many houses here. We only saw some old bunkers. But the hills (those that escaped the bulldozers) covered by yellow flowers and grass looked so amazing.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: beautiful coast

Stunning Coastline

10:56 Reached a spot to see the stunning coastline. My friend and I stayed here and took as many photos as possible. My feet still hurt from the long hike I did on Nangan Island, but I didn’t care. The view made me forget about my swollen toes.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: beautiful coast
Dongju Island never ceased to amaze me.
11:13 Reached the entrance of Foshou Trail 佛手步道 and a pavilion that could let us overlook Mysterious Little Bay. We didn’t take Foshou Trail. Instead, we continued walking on the road.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
11:22 Arrived at the map showing Mt. Dongyang Trail 東洋山步道 to Tungchu Tao Lighthouse, aka Dongquan Lighthouse, 東犬燈塔.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mt. Dongyang Trail
Yes, one place with multiple English translations is common in Taiwan. This bad practice has driven many non-Chinese speakers crazy. Tungchu here means Dongju, and Tao means islands.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mysterious Little Bay
When we followed the trail and turned towards different directions, the rocky shoreline, especially near Mysterious Little Bay, morphed into different shapes. No wonder Mysterious Little Bay was listed in one of the ten best geological formations of Matsu Geopark.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking

Mysterious Little Bay

Soon, we arrived at Mysterious Little Bay, and we were the only ones there. I could imagine how packed it would be during the tourist season. Now, it was just us.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mysterious Little Bay
We climbed up to the rocks, absorbing the sounds of the waves and winds chanting with their own rhythms in a surprisingly harmonic way.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mysterious Little Bay
My friend Mt. Chang took this photo when Morning Glories bloomed in summer.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mysterious Little Bay
Morning Glorries blossom in summer. Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫
11:50 On the way to Mt. Dongyang Trail, I looked back to Mysterious Little Bay and saw some old bunkers hidden on the rocky cliffs.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mt. Dongyang Trail
Then we reached the circular pavement to let tourists enjoy the 360-degree views.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mt. Dongyang Trail
My friend said the best timing to see the crystal blue ocean is at noon in summer. It was murky blue mixed with some brown shades when we were there in December. Yet, it was totally fine with me because roaming here without any crowd was so relaxing.
12:09 We arrived at the observation deck that was under construction. I went up there to take a few shots of Dongquan Lighthouse. It was so windy that I could barely hold my smartphone still.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mt. Dongyang Trail
12:17 We passed a set of steep steps leading all the way to the rugged beach. I thought about taking it, but I was reluctant to take the steep steps back later. Perhaps another time.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Mt. Dongyang Trail

Dongquan Lighthouse

12:26 Finally, we arrived at the lighthouse.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dongguan LIghthouse
This place was amazing! The white building, the white wall, green grass, and the blue sky made the landscape so spectacular. Not to mention that we didn’t need to avoid any single person in our pictures.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dongguan LIghthouse
My friend said the wall was built for lighthouse caretakers to hide behind it so the light in the lanterns they carried would not be blown away by the strong wind.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dongguan LIghthouse
I didn't see the tree when I was there. Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫
I wish I had taken more photos there.
We had to catch the last ferry back to Nangan Island, so we didn’t go to Cannon Company 大砲連, but you can put this on your itinerary.
While enjoying the lighthouse, I could see another islet of Dongju Island, Xiniu Islet 犀牛嶼 (西牛嶼). Xiniu literally means rhinos in Chinese. As you guess it, people say this islet looks like a rhino.
What’s unique about Xiniu Islet is it’s a tied islet and an intertidal zone. Visitors can walk to this islet between the tides. The local people also come here to collect shellfish.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Xiniu Islet
The islet on the right is Xiniu Islet.
12:44 Arrived at Fuzheng Village 福正聚落 and saw the old-style houses. It’s a shame that we had to skip Fuzheng Beach 福正沙灘 and Stronghold No. 47 (47據點) to get a closer look at Xiniu Islet.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Fucheng Village
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Dapu Village
Some houses still keep the old-style windows after renovations, which is very cool.
We went to Juguang Visitor Center 莒光遊客中心 to have lunch and took a long break. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of that place.
14:12 We took Zhongxing Road 中興路 back to the harbor. My friend took me to enjoy grass jelly milk.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
After the drink, we went to an unassuming bakery called Lailai Bakery 來來西點 and bought some walnut cookies. I didn’t expect much, but I was so shocked after tasting them. I will visit here again and load up all the cookies they have when I come back. Those are vegetarian, too.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
The walnut cookies are tasty.
14:30 Passed a tank.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
14:35 Passed Dongju Heliport 東莒直昇機場. Yes, you can book helicopter tickets if the ferries are canceled due to the bad weather.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: heliport
14:40 Back to Meng’ao Harbor and waited for our ferry to back to Nangan Island.

Flowers on Dongju Island

I saw some beautiful wild flowers on Dongju Island. The first is a striking purple flower found on a very windy hill. It was so windy that I had to hold the flower to take photos. I still don’t know what this flower is, but my guess is it might be Hairy Violet 短毛菫菜.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
When we arrived on Nangan Island, sisal hemp 瓊麻 was standing tall at many places. It was no exception when we were on Dongju Island. But those on Dongju Island even let us get a glimpse of their beautiful white flowers.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking
If you can stay on Dongju Island for one night, walking on the white-sand beach and enjoying the Blue Tears are also the things you can’t miss here. There are so many things to explore on this island, and time is never enough.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking: Meng'ao Harbor
An photo booth for those who enjoy taking selfies.
My total steps on my second day on Matsu Islands, including a small walk at Niujiao Village.
Matsu - Dongju Island hiking

Related Posts:

On Taiwan Hikes

Matsu's Nangan Island
Matsu's Beigan Island

English Posts

Off the Beaten Track: Dongju: an island on the edge of the (Taiwanese) World
Exploring Matsu 2: East and West Dog Islands (Xiju and Dongju)
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