Taiwan is an island, and as such is rich with a wide variety of ocean activities. In addition, there is a seemingly innumerable reservoir of lakes, rivers, and waterways laying in wait for the enjoyment of locals and visitors alike. And thanks to recent improvements in infrastructure, these “bodies” of water are now more accessible than ever, which has spurred on a wave of water sports. Long story short, if you’re looking to escape the trappings of your resort swimming pool then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at water-based activities in Taiwan that are taking off, and why you need to make them a part of your “to do” itinerary.
Five Popular Ocean and/or Fresh Water Activities You Will Want to Try on Your Next Trip to Taiwan
You may not have considered Taiwan when you hear the words “surf trip” but this ocean sport is quickly gaining in popularity thanks to the bounty of waves available along the coast to accommodate beginners, intermediate, and advanced wave riders. Annual events such as the Taiwan Open of Surfing (in Jinzun, Taitung) have sparked the interest of locals, and you will now find surf shops, rentals, lessons, and accessories along the wave-ridden sections of Northern Taiwan, including Waiao Beach (Yilan), Fulong Beach (New Taipei City), in addition to some hot spots towards the South, such as Donghe (Taidong) and Jialeshui (Pingtung). The great thing about surfing in Taiwan, is that there is no intense “locals only” vibe so you’ll never feel unwelcome – the ocean belongs to everyone here in the island state! Still, it certainly doesn’t hurt to hit the beaches and lineups with a local guide, someone who may even share a few secret spots with you, as long as you promise not to tell anyone else (wink wink).
This may seem like a serious thrill seeker activity, and it can be, but there are many waterfalls and lakes in Taiwan that offer jump spots for people that are just easing into the concept. One of the more popular spots, The Lingjiao Waterfall in the Pingxi District in New Taipei, is only a 5 minute walk away from the train station, but may be a little too high for those afraid of far plummets. Huiyao and Wanggu waterfalls are also found in the Pingxi District, and have some pretty decent ledges for advanced jumpers to enjoy. Beginners may want to check out the Wormhole, which is a slot canyon in the Shiding District that boasts a hoard of curious looking rock formations that allow you to pick a height of your choosing, and dive on in. Other notable spots include the Kuhua Pond waterfall (Nanzhuang Township), the Xiannu Waterfall (Taiping District), the intense Three Dragons Waterfall (Fanlu Township), Lover’s Lake (Sandimen Township), Celestial Lake (Wufeng Township), and so much more. Given that most of the best cliff diving spots are found along or at the end of rural hiking trails, it’s a good idea to go with a local guide for this particular Taiwan water sport.
The warm ocean waters that embrace the entire coast of Taiwan are filled with tropical fish and lively coral reefs, making snorkeling an exciting yet relatively low “impact” water sport to enjoy when visiting the island. With numerous beaches and a collection of islets, atolls, and small islands visitors of all snorkeling skill levels with find a depth they are comfortable with. All sides of the island offer snorkeling opportunities, but the Southern tip boasts Kenting Beach, which is abundant with reef and marine life along the shore. That said, if you don’t want to bump elbows with fellow snorkelers and prefer a little time alone with your favorite species of fish and sea mammals, consider Anping Beach in Tainan. The Northern part of the island also has some great snorkeling sites, including those off of Fulong Beach, Tongsiao Marine Life Park beach in Miaoli County, Baishawan Beach, Longdong Ocean Park, and even Feicueiwan Beach, although there is a fee to enjoy the latter. Again, connect with a local guide to get access to even more special spots around the island where you can snorkel without dealing with crowds of the human nature.
White Water Rafting
There are kayaking and rafting tours all over Taiwan, but without a doubt the most popular and thrilling of them all is the whitewater rafting trip through the Xiuguluan River Canyon. Xiuguluan River travels from eastern Taiwan’s Central Mountain range through to the Pacific ocean. There are guided rafting tours ready to transport visitors along an impressive 15-mile canyon river stretch that travels from Rei Shui to Da Gangkou. Along the way you’ll be happy (or maybe not so much?) to find that there approximately 20 sets of whitewater rapids, which barely give you any time to “recover” between each. And for adrenaline junkies – that’s exactly what you want to hear. However, if Xiuguluan doesn’t sound all that appealing given your aversion to getting completely drenched within a small watercraft, then by connecting to a local guide you can discover more mellow kayaking and rafting opportunities to suit your speed, or lack thereof. We don’t judge!
Many people dismiss South Asia / South East Asia when it comes to scuba, citing cold water and how it keeps the most “interesting” sea life and reef from flourishing (read: boring scuba). However, Taiwan is uniquely located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and at the western edge of the Philippine Sea Plate. Now don’t let “Ring of Fire” scare you, as instead of fierce dragons, the region is blessed with warm tropical water – and that invites a wide variety of sea life into its fold. And that, equates great scuba. There are underwater forests (coral), fish, rays, sea turtles, dolphins, reef sharks, artificial reefs, and ship wrecks to explore. The most popular diving destination is Green Island on the eastern edge of the island near Taitung Forest Park, but take note that one of Green Island’s dive sites is known as Shark Point, and for good reason given the large numbers of hammerhead sharks that gather there in the spring season. There are also some amazing dive sites on the Southern end of Taiwan, including those found around Kenting National Park and out towards Orchid Island, the latter of which may allow lucky divers to spy a whale shark in all of its gigantic yet gentle glory. Orchid is also home to the Ba Dai ship wreck. You local guide can assist you with getting to some of the better dive sites and if you’re not dive certified (PADI) can even point you in the right direction with local operators.
If you have any questions about finding a local guide to help you better enjoy the above water sport adventures in Taiwan, contact Loci Amica via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.