Water Fun in Taiwan
Taiwan is ideally situated for all kinds of water sports and activities, with the southern part of the island bathed in warm tropical seas and the northern part battered by the strong winds and waves of the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Taiwan's many fine sandy beaches and offshore islets provide great settings, and the world famous hospitality of the Taiwanese people adds to the pleasure of visiting Taiwan in the high heat of summer. This month, come with us to visit some of Taiwan's most famous and impressive seaside spots.
Kending's average annual temperature of around 20 to 28 degrees Celsius, together with its clear seawater, make it an ideal spot for all kinds of water sports, especially diving and snorkeling.
Kending's coral reefs have the richest oceanic ecology in the region, which is a major attraction for divers. The gentle undersea slopes between Maobitou and Houbihu, Nanwan (South Bay) and Tanzihwan, and the coral reefs at the Nanwan and Siaowan areas are very popular with snorkelers and beginner aqualung divers. Schools of multi-colored tropical fish, cathedral-like coral structures, strange underwater animals, and amazing marine flora paint an unforgettable and spectacular picture. In addition to diving, other popular activities in the neighborhood include swimming, surfing, windsurfing, water-skiing, parasailing, water-bike riding, and yachting. There are also many companies offering trips in glass-bottomed boats so that even those who don't feel comfortable under the water can enjoy the unforgettable beauties of the sea bed. The beaches are also superb for beach games, building sand castles, or just lying in the sun with a book.
Baishawan (Baisha Bay)
Baishawan, like many other beaches in Taiwan, is famous for a wide range of water sports and activities. The seaside hill behind the beach is also popular with hang gliders who can take advantage of the strong thermal currents coming in off the sea.
Towards the western end of the bay is a gravel beach named Linshanbi. The grayish rocks were formed in volcanic eruptions which took place some 800,000 years ago. The rock contains rare minerals which can be seen as glittering black particles on the rock surface.
The Baishawan Visitor Center provides comprehensive information about the Baisha Beach area and hiking trails in Linshanbi.
In Jinshan, make sure you spend some time in the small town. The old fishing village, seafood restaurants, and hot springs are some of its attractions, as well as its fine beach.
The golden-sand crescent-shaped Jinshan Beach is about 500 meters in length and 200 meters in width. In summer the sea is dotted with sails and swimmers, while on the beach people lie in the sun or make sand sculptures. Near the beach, visitors can find the Jinshan Youth Activity Center, which offers a wide range of facilities including accommodation, restaurants, a conference room, barbecue and camping areas, a seawater swimming pool, and a hot spring gymnasium.
Every July and August, the famous Ho-Hai-Yan Gongliao Rock Festival is held at Fulong Beach. A stage is installed on the beach, on which rock and pop music is performed nonstop for days. People flow in from Taipei and the surrounding towns to join the event and to enjoy the music. The festival has become one of the biggest music events in Taiwan's long hot summer, and a highlight for young people and music lovers.
Tongsiao Marine Life Park & Bathing Beach
In the mangrove conservation zone, visitors can see various local and migratory birds and crabs found on Taiwan's shores. Inside the park there is also a small pasture where cows, horses, and sheep graze. Visitors can camp in the park or stay in one of the log cabins.
Although Penghu is very windy, at Guanyin Bay the sea is usually calmer, which makes it a great place for wind surfing. In recent years, Penghu has become famous in international wind-surfing circles, and international wind-surfing tours and contests are now held here regularly every year. Wind surfers gather from Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and as far away as Europe and America to challenge Penghu's strong winds. There are many beautiful beaches in Penghu. Shihli Beach is considered the best for swimming, water sports, and scuba diving.
Baisha (White Sand) Islet is named for its pure white sandy beaches, ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. This uninhabited islet's primitive and unspoiled beauty is especially alluring. Another attraction here is the basalt columns formed by prehistoric underwater volcanic eruptions. Over centuries of time, the columns have been sculptured by the wind, the rain, and the seawater into many strange shapes.
The Penghu Aquarium was opened in 1998. Here visitors have the opportunity to experience the rich and varied marine life of the area. The aquarium is divided into seashore, reef, and ocean areas. In the ocean area a gigantic glass tunnel juts out along the sea bed for visitors to appreciate close up the fish and other life forms of the deep. There are also feeding shows and detailed information about the different marine animals; in fact, there is something for every member of the family.
Penghu beaches are also the breeding ground for an endangered species: the Green Sea Turtle. This animal prefers to lay its eggs on the sandy seashore of Wangan, where it buries them in the sand. A special conservation area has been set up to protect the precious Green Sea Turtles. Another famous attraction in Penghu is the twin hearts stone weir on the north shore of Cimei. Because of its shape, this traditional fish trap has today become a symbol of romance.
Green Island (Lyudao)
Jhaorih Hot Spring, the only salt-water hot spring in Taiwan, is located in the southeast part of Green Island. Other such salt-water hot springs can only be seen in Italy and Japan. The spring is caused by sulfurous water seeping through apertures on the coral shore and mixing with seawater. In the year 2000, three pools were created to maintain water at 15, 32, and 38 degrees Celsius, respectively. There is also a hydrotherapy area with showers and Jacuzzis. The pools are outdoors facing the vast Pacific Ocean, and it is very romantic to gaze at the sun setting over the ocean while bathing in the hot spring water.
Orchid Island (Lanyu)
The Yami have also long enjoyed the wild fun and excitement of the sea, with their Flying Fish Festival and their ritually carved canoes. A visit to Lanyu is worthwhile, not only for the beach life but also to experience some of the Yami culture and festivals.
Dongcing Bay on the eastern shore of Lanyu is a beautiful white sandy beach which is ideally situated for watching the sunrise. Nearby is the Lovers' (Cingren) Cave, considered by some to be the most beautiful spot on Lanyu. Inside the cave is a serene pool, which is especially romantic at night when it reflects the starry sky.
Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake's beauty lies in its turquoise tranquil lake water and the surrounding mountains. The layers of mountains, together with Lalu Island and the rippled serene lake, make a visit to Sun Moon Lake like a walk into a Chinese painting. Frequent mists and ephemeral rain showers lend an air of mystery and contribute to the constantly changing moods of the lake. In the surrounding mountains there are trails for hikers, each offering a different perspective of the lake's beauty. Lalu Island, recently restored to its original name, has been placed off limits to visitors. But floating gardens featuring a variety of local vegetation now surround the island, and the tourist boats continue to call so that their passengers can get off and take a stroll among the greenery.
Like other scenic areas in Taiwan, fauna and flora are rich and diverse at Sun Moon Lake. Six rare birds unique to Taiwan - the Taiwan Blue Magpie, White-throated Hill Partridge, Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Taiwan Sibia, Steere's Liocichla, and Taiwan Yuhina- and other species are found here. Dozens species of butterflies, fish, and animals are also found in the area.
In addition, traditional temples, both old and new, are scattered along the highway around the lake's 24-kilometer perimeter. On the top of one mountain directly across the lake from Shueishe Village, where most of the hotels and restaurants are located, is a pagoda built by Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother.
The old villa where President and Madame Chiang stayed during his visits collapsed during the 921 earthquake in 1999, and the government-owned lakeside hostel just below it was also heavily damaged. The property has since found a new owner, who has developed it into one of the most exclusive and most expensive hotels in Taiwan. Opened in early 2002, the super-deluxe Lalu Hotel has become extremely popular, especially among couples who go there to enjoy the fine views of the lake and the romantic atmosphere. For those of you who have a smaller travel budget, a range of other accommodations is available around the lake.
Wunwu Temple is located on the shores of the lake. This edifice has two host deities, Confucius and Guan Gong, the God of War. Two huge and fierce-looking stone lions guard the entrance to the temple.
Other attractions in the area include the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village just 10 or 15 minutes away. This is a large theme park with representations of Taiwan's ten main aboriginal cultures and a variety of amusement-park rides. A few minutes farther to the north is the cultural town of Puli, the geographic center of the island, with its famous temples, hand-made-paper factory, lacquer-ware workshop, winery, and restaurants serving flower cuisines. Go south and you quickly come to Shueili, with its popular "snake kiln" pottery theme park and the quaint narrow-gauge Jiji rail line. Farther on, at the edge of the Yushan National Park, is the hot-spring village of Dongpu, offering not only the pleasures of spa bathing but also the culture of Bunun aborigines.
If you want an exciting night life, Sun Moon Lake is not for you. This is a place for doing nothing as you wind down from the stresses and strains of daily life. For anyone wanting to get away from the hectic bustle of the urban scene, this romantic lake and its environs beckon as a haven of tranquility and relaxation.
So the next time you visit Taiwan in the summer, make sure you bring along your swimming and diving gear. You are sure to create many great memories during your stay.