Matsu Tip: Meet the Formosan Sika Deers @ Matsu's Daqiu Island (北竿乡.大坵岛)
Daqiu Island (大坵岛/大丘岛) is situated to the northeast of Beigan Island (北竿乡) of Taiwan's Matsu Islands (台湾马祖列岛), about 500 metres from the shore of Qiaozai Village (桥仔村).
The photo below was taken from a plane after taking off from Matsu Beigan Airport. It shows Daqiu Island with Xiaoqiu Island (小坵岛) to the right. The island further away is Gaodeng Island (高登岛). This cluster of islands is a part of Beigan Township.
Daqiu Island was officially classified as a "deserted island" after its residents and Taiwanese army vacated the island. But, a group of Formosan sika deers (梅花鹿) was left to roam wildly on the island. After more than 20 years, the population of the deers grew to about 150 ~ 200.
There are walkways on the island for visitors to meet and feed the deers and to explore the whole island. The island itself is like a wild deer eco-park.
More information can be found in Qiaozai Village's Fishery Museum (桥仔渔业展示馆).
I was travelling in Beigan Township in November 2019. Due to strong winds of the northeast monsoon, boats were not able to reach Daqiu Island due to big waves. And I was not able to go onto the island. It was a regret for that journey. But it strengthened my wish to go back to Beigan one day and see the deers.
During the trip, I overheard a tour guide saying that a cross-sea bridge that connects Beigan Island to Daqiu Island would be constructed in 3 years. Visitors would be able to walk over to the island to mingle with the deers.
In fact, the pillars for the bridge had already been laid and was visible from the air as I flew out from Beigan Airport. Hopefully, the bridge is able to withstand the strong winds of the northeast monsoon, otherwise, nobody will be able to go to Daqiu Island during the off-peak travel seasons to feed the cold and hungry deers.
🛥 Ferry Information
March to October (Peak Season):
Scheduled ferries are available between Nangan Fuao Harbour (南竿福澳港) and Daqiu Island. The fare is NT$350 per pax. The ferries will stopover at Beigan Baisha Harbour (北竿白沙港) too. There will only be one ferry-trip per day from March to May and September to October. Two ferry-trips per day will be available from June to August. (Reference: https://www.matsuebs.com)
Private boat services from Beigan Qiaozai Village to Daqiu Island and return. It takes only 3 minutes to reach the island. There will be at least two boat-trips per day from May to October. However, at least 2 persons are required per boat.
November to February (Off-peak Season):
There will be no ferries from Nangan Fuao Harbour.
Private boat services from Beigan Qiaozai Village may be available provided there are no strong winds and big waves, have minimum number of passengers, the boats are not undergoing maintenance, etc. Be mentally prepared!
It had been 3 years! And yes, I will be visiting the sika deers on Daqiu Island soon!