Have you heard well-nigh the Undecorous Tears in Taiwan‘s Matsu Islands? The unearthly undecorous glow of the bioluminescence withal the shoreline at night is one of the reasons that yank visitors every year and I was stoked to finally trammels it out for myself on this trip to the Matsu Islands 马祖. There are several ways to see the Undecorous Tears that I tried out, so if you’re planning your own Taiwan Matsu Islands trip soon, here’s my guide on how to see the Undecorous Tears.
Photography note: I’m not a pro photographer – all the Undecorous Tears photos are taken on my Iphone 14 Pro camera, most with long exposure night mode and in some cases the help of a gimbal for stability. I did some minor edits to yield and patina up some darker images, but I definitely didn’t add in any of the undecorous bits! You’ll probably get largest photos with a proper DSLR, but moreover make sure to just squint considering seeing it with your own two vision is a pretty incredible experience.
- What are the Undecorous Tears 蓝眼泪?
- Where are the Matsu Islands?
- When is the weightier time to see the Undecorous Tears in the Matsu Islands?
- 4 ways to see the Undecorous Tears in Matsu Islands
What are the Undecorous Tears 蓝眼泪?
Blue Tears or 蓝眼泪 Lan Yan Lei is the local name given to the glowing undecorous bioluminescence found in the seas virtually the Matsu Islands. Lately you can moreover find them virtually Kinmen Island – both these islands are closer to China than Taiwan geographically. This romantic sounding name is something that the Taiwanese came up with for tourism.
The Undecorous Tears are unquestionably a type of microorganism in the water known as Noctiluca Scintillans. During the day it presents as a reddish rusty tint in the water – which is why in some places it’s tabbed the Red Tide. The undecorous glow happens in the visionless when the scum are agitated, usually by the waves or other movement in the water. This is unquestionably a reaction by the scum to try and escape its predators.
This miracle isn’t unique to the Matsu Islands – other places virtually the world like moreover see undecorous bioluminesence, but it really depends on luck. with Matsu, this is a relatively ‘stable’ occurrence that happens virtually the same time every year, which is how it came to be one of its tourist attractions.
Where are the Matsu Islands?
The Matsu Islands are offshore islands that vest to Taiwan, though geographically they’re unquestionably closer to China than Taiwan! The Matsu Islands are made up of several main islands that can be visited:
- Nangan 南竿 and Beigan 北竿 are the main islands in the centre where the airports are located
- To the northeast is Dongyin 東引, northernmost point of Taiwan
- To the south are the islands of Juguang 莒光 – Dongju 東莒 and Xiju 西莒
How to get to Matsu Islands
By plane: You can fly to Nangan or Beigan airport from Taipei’s Songshan airport in well-nigh 1 hour. UNIair flies daily with 8 flights between Taipei and Nangan and 3 flights between Taipei and Beigan – Check out UNIair’s website. Mandarin Airlines has one flight between Songshan and Nangan – check out Mandarin Airline’s website.
By overnight ferry: If you have time, you could moreover take the overnight ferry Taima Star from Keelung in New Taipei City that goes to Dongyin and Nangan in well-nigh 10-11 hours. Buy Matsu Overnight Ferry tickets on KKday [affiliate link]
By fast ferry: A new fast ferry North-South Ferry takes just 3 hours to get from Taipei to Nangan. Buy Matsu Fast Ferry tickets on KKday [affiliate link]
When is the weightier time to see the Undecorous Tears in the Matsu Islands?
The typical season to see the Undecorous Tears in the Matsu Island is in the summer/autumn months from late April to October when the water is warmer, though you tend to see a higher concentration from April to June considering the weather conditions are largest for Undecorous Tears then.
What weather conditions are needed for the Undecorous Tears to show?
It needs to be as visionless as possible, so if you’re looking at a calendar, try and pick a time when there is no moon. The unexceptionable full moon is your worst enemy here.
Weather conditions on the day moreover need to come together – deject imbricate ways less light and the wind direction needs to be right so the scum spritz into the bays.
To be honest, it really is luck of the draw! Try to requite yourself a bit increasingly time here to modernize your chances of having a good night. I visited the Matsu Islands in mid May when the moon was waning. Out of the 4 nights I was there, I had 1 ok sighting, 1 completely incredible day, 1 soso day and 1 day I really didn’t try at all.
There are some guaranteed ways to see the Undecorous Tears regardless though your satisfaction level can vary, I’ll talk well-nigh it below:
4 ways to see the Undecorous Tears in Matsu Islands
Blue Tears wend ride in Beihai Tunnel, Nangan 南竿北海坑道
- Sighting rate: 100%
- Exertion rate: 100%
The Matsu Islands have lots of military structures all virtually from their history of warfare with neighbouring China. Some of these have been repurposed into tourist attractions, one of them is the Beihai Tunnel 北海坑道.
The Beihai Tunnel is a manmade tunnel that was painstakingly dug out of the waddle on the Tieban Coast. It was used to house military boats, but now it’s a place you can walk in at low tide (check the tide times surpassing you go). But the main reason people come here is for the Undecorous Tears wend ride that happens in the evenings.
The whole session takes well-nigh 30 minutes. Here’s what happens:
The session starts off with a rundown to everyone by a guide well-nigh what exactly the undecorous tears are, from the scientific name to why they glow. The most important fact i learned is that the glow of the bioluminescence isn’t unchangingly undecorous – that’s important for later. The whole rundown is conducted in Chinese, so if you only speak English, you probably will want to have someone who can translate with you or just rely on looking at the pix that they show.
2. Boat time
After the briefing, life jackets are handed out and the people divvied up into boats and take a stroll over to the floating pontoon area.
Each wend can hold 12 people and the wend tutorage stands at the when of the wend to paddle and steer. There are 6 wooden seats on either side of the wend that you straddle, facing outwards. I personally don’t think it matters where you sit but they often try to alimony the weight even.
Each person is given a very important tool for this wend ride – a handmade scoop which is used to stir up the water. That vociferation is what makes the undecorous tears glow. You will love and hate this tool in the without the next 5 minutes or so.
The boats set off and slowly drifted lanugo the tunnel. Without all the boats left the dock, all the lights in the tunnel are turned off and it gets pitch dark. That’s your cue to start stirring up the water and see if it starts twinkling when at you.
This was my very first encounter with the Undecorous Tears and honestly plane without the briefing, it wasn’t quite what I expected expressly without seeing all those photos of glowing undecorous streaks in the water. What this looked like was small specks of white fairy lights twinkling in the water which was cute, but not super wow.
The wend ride lasts well-nigh 20mins as it goes virtually in a square route to get when to the dock, which isn’t a long time, but trust me when I say 20 mins of stirring up the water does finger like forever. I thought it was a bit wearisome (and tiring) without a bit, so maybe take turns with your friends to stir up the water.
Photo opportunities: very low. Considering the glow only lasts microseconds and I think there is a lot less scum in here, it’s practically untellable to capture them glowing with a phone camera. Plane video doesn’t work here. Moreover the wend is moving so it’s nonflexible to take a well-spoken long exposure shot easily. Maybe those with pro cameras might manage it? But as our wend guide said, just put yonder your phone and enjoy the sight with your eyes…
It’s a 100% guaranteed way to see the Undecorous Tears but it’s not a super impressive sight. It’s not a bad way to get a primer on what the Undecorous Tears are, but I suggest booking this tour at the end of your trip so you can potentially skip it if you have good sightings on other days. The Beihai tunnel is worth a walk around, so I’d recommend checking on low tide times and coming to visit then.
Beihai Tunnel is located in the south of Nangan Island. Dahan Stronghold 大漢據點 is located on the other side of the bay. Nangan visitor centre 南竿遊客中心 is moreover located here if you need increasingly info. Tropical by is Ren’ai Waterfront 仁愛沙灘 where I saw Undecorous Tears in the wild later that evening
Beihai Tunnel Wend Tour Booking details
Opening Hours: This worriedness happens in the months from March to November. The official time happens from 630pm-930pm, but they might increase timings during rented periods so trammels in with them. I went for a 530pm slot and they opened slots at 10pm to unbend the prod that weekend.
Each session lasts well-nigh 20-30 minutes. Be there 15-20 minutes surpassing to register and get settled.
Cost: 350 NTD (about S$15)
How to typesetting tickets:
- By KKday [affiliate link] – note that there is a normal wend ride from 9am-430pm that’s cheaper and does not involve seeing the undecorous tears, so make sure you pick the correct one
- By phone: (0836) 22177 – you’ll need to speak in Chinese
- By LINE ID: @gen6594n
- By email: Tieren22177@outlook.com
- Appointment time: Monday to Saturday, 9 am to 4:30 pm
You need to typesetting tickets earlier expressly on weekends when it can get crowded. I didn’t do unbearable prep earlier so it was fully booked the weekend I was there when I tabbed to check. You can moreover show up at Beihai Tunnel in the late afternoon well-nigh 5pm at Beihai Tunnel like I did and put yourself on the wait list – since I was just one person, I managed to bag a last minute slot!
Blue Tears Wits Centre, Nangan 南竿藍眼淚生態館
- Sighting rate: 100%
- Difficulty rate: 1%
If you want a closer encounter with the Undecorous Tears that’s guaranteed throughout the year plane during winter, flipside way to see them is at the Blue Tears Wits Centre 藍眼淚生態館 (Also tabbed the Undecorous Tears Museum) in the northwestern end of Nangan island.
The whole session then takes well-nigh 30 minutes. There are timed slots for this experience. I just turned up and managed to get tickets hands but in peak season you might want to plan a bit largest than I did.
1. Video projection well-nigh the Undecorous Tears
First you watch an interactive video subtitle of the undecorous tears. Visitors are seated on one side of a visionless room and the video is projected on the walls and floor in front of you, with a cute mascot explaining what the undecorous tears are. Without that, you have some time to take photos – the room projection is one of those motion sensor type things so as you walk wideness the floor, the water ‘ripples’, pretty cute for fun photos.
Again this all takes place in Chinese!
2. Undecorous tears time
After the video you are ushered into flipside room with lots of glass bowls filled with water. They’ve unquestionably found a way to cultivate the scum outside of the ocean, so each of these bowls has some scum in it. The tool used to waken them here is a plastic pipette like you get in science labs.
The lights are turned off and the room is tint into darkness. Audio instruction is given on the dos and don’ts, and how to make the undecorous tears glow with the use of the pipette by swirling, spurting and swiping through the water. The undecorous tears here did glow the undecorous I expected them to, and considering it’s a controlled environment, you can fathom them a little increasingly up close.
There were uneaten bowls around, so without playing with one bowl, you can swap to flipside empty trencher to let the first one ‘recharge’ and regain its unexceptionable glow.
Photo opportunities: As you can see I unquestionably managed to capture the undecorous tears on my phone plane though the photo quality is pretty dire. I found the effect on video was definitely largest and easier to capture than photos.
3. Gallery Cafe
The last section is a small gallery with some tomfool undecorous tears photos and a projected map showing undecorous tears locations and things to do in Matsu. There is a sideboard and shop as well – some people seem to be on a package where supplies and drink was prepped for them without the experience.
Fun guaranteed and low effort way to see the Undecorous Tears throughout the year. Though it’s less ‘organic’ since you’re playing with a lab grown algae, but I would pick this over the Beihai Wend Ride for stuff less tiring.
The museum is located right next to the beach, and there are some footpaths that you can use to track withal the west tailspin of Nangan, or up to Furen’ao where there are nice views but not much else unless you’re up for some exploration.
Blue Tears Wits Centre booking Details
Opening Hours: Sessions every half hour from 10am to 5pm
Cost: 350 NTD (about S$15)
How to typesetting tickets: You can typesetting your Blue Tears Wits Centre Tickets via KKday [affiliate link].
I just turned up there and then to typesetting and happened to victorious on the hour, so I walked in as the projection just started.
Blue Tears wend ride in Qiaozi, Beigan 蓝眼泪 夜航船 橋仔
- Sighting rate: depends
- Satisfaction rate: 1000% if you luck out like I did
The most satisfying way to see the Undecorous Tears is of undertow to see in naturally withal the coastline, but you really have to have luck in your favour that day, and I did on Day 3 in Beigan.
I didn’t plane know well-nigh this wend ride, but a group of Taiwanese travellers I made friends with in Nangan told me well-nigh this undecorous tears wend tour that they were taking and I spontaneously asked if there were vacancies and decided to join them. I didn’t know it that afternoon, but that evening the undecorous tears were out in full force.
Over at Qiaozi port 橋仔港 which is where you take the wend from Beigan to Daqiu island that night, the undecorous tears were in full glow. Withal the beach. People on the side were splashing water, and plane jumping in for a swim to really work them up. It was pretty incredible. Photos really don’t do this justice.
We had to go early and register our names on a list, and you had to bring withal your ID/passport as there was a tailspin baby-sit checking details. They would moreover count people getting on and off the boat, so perhaps they were worried well-nigh people sneaking in by the sea.
The wend guide said that the Undecorous Tears on that day was one of the brightest that he had seen for that season to date, so luckily I booked early considering the wend tours were completely sold out. There were well-nigh 12 of us that topside the boat, and plane as the wend moved off you could see the wake was glowing!
The wend journey lasted well-nigh an hour. We basically went up and lanugo withal the western tailspin of Beigan and circled virtually the water, but it was really tomfool seeing the many variegated glow shapes that the wend movement stirred up withal the way! It really felt like we were in a dreamworld. I took a lot of photos and videos at the start, but moreover took a lot of time to just enjoy the scenery and swooning a lot.
The wend stopped at unrepealable points for largest observation – near the islands, and plane at a nice visionless corner, our boatman pulled a big net through the water and it was glowing like a spectre! When he poured water onto the wend deck with a bucket, it was like a glowing fountain.
Photo Opportunities: Videos were much easier to take than photos on the moving boat, but I still managed some decent shots.
BEST EXPERIENCE EVER. I’m probably unjust considering I had really good luck that night, but I think on a wend you have a largest endangerment of unquestionably pursuit the spritz of the algae. It’s moreover darker offshore and our wend man knew how to stave the unexceptionable lights. It’s moreover kinda nice to just be out at sea at night.
Qiaozi village is not far from the historic Qinbi Village 芹壁 where I stayed. This is where you take the wend to get to neighbouring Daqiu Island.
Blue Tears Wend Ride Booking Details
Location on Google Maps (I know it’s marked permanently closed, but that is the location!)
There are several wend companies that offer these Undecorous Tears night wend tours, the one I took was booked by my Taiwanese friends through the Guesthouse they stayed at.
My friends were staying at SO LOHAS B&B [booking.com unite link] and honestly it looks like a really nice place with a unconfined rating and balconies facing the sea!
The wend visitor is Wei Sheng Hao 崴盛號 娛樂漁船 – see their Facebook (their video on 14th May was the day that I went out with them!) and Website. Contact 0981-373840 (Boat Captain) or 0970-779525 (Ms Lin).
Cost: 500 NTD (about S$22)
Other companies you can trammels out: Daqiu No. 2 大坵2號 0937-896835 (張良衛 Zhang Liang Wei)
Wild sightings of Undecorous Tears withal the coast
- Sighting rate: depends on the weather
- Prayer rate: 200% for the conditions to come together
Most other times, undecorous tears hunting is basically something for you to do at night considering there isn’t much else to do on the island. Ideally you should have your own transport, then you have the flexibility of going wherever you want.
On my first night in Matsu, the Taiwanese group that I met in Nangan told me that they had spotted some Undecorous Tears in Ren’ai Waterfront 仁愛沙灘 (not far from Beihai Tunnel), so I headed over to trammels it out. The undecorous wasn’t only visible when sand was thrown in the water or splashed up so I only managed to get some videos but not photos.
I stayed in a village tabbed Jinsha 津沙 in Nangan which moreover has its own waterfront and they do get Undecorous Tears sometimes, but alas, no sightings when I was there.
In Beigan besides the incredible sight at Qiaozi Village, I unprotected some glimpses of Undecorous Tears in Qinbi Village where I was staying. I did spend the pursuit night cruising lanugo to Mabiwan 馬鼻灣 near the airport as well where there were recent sightings, but no luck again. It really is so unpredictable, so having the sure-see options is a unconfined replacement in specimen the conditions just aren’t cooperating with you.
Matsu Undecorous Tears Hunting Tips
- Stay on the main highways as far as possible if driving on your own at night. Some of the small highways are not lit or paved, and Matsu’s roads in often are pretty damn slopey. It’s nonflexible unbearable driving during the day, so don’t take your chances at night.
- If you’re not keen to momentum at night, stay in a guesthouse near a waterfront or the tailspin for the weightier chances of Undecorous Tears sightings at night.
- There are no 100% guaranteed sighting spots – there is a map with Blue Tears spots on Matsu Tourism Website, but your weightier bet is to yack with your guesthouse owner or local people in the zone who will be worldly-wise to requite you tips.
I hope this helps anyone headed to the Matsu Islands to see the Undecorous Tears! I will be doing up a full Matsu guide soon of course, stay tuned! Drop me any questions you might have in the comments and I’ll see if I can help.
Have you seen the Undecorous Tears in Matsu Islands or other places virtually the world? Share your wits here, or trammels out some of the other Taiwan offshore islands that I have visited.