Cities / SURF TRAVEL

Surf Guide: Taiwan

photo 2As far as surf destinations go, Taiwan is definitely underrated.  Its year round surf-friendly conditions, hospitable locals, amazing street food and plethora of outdoors activities makes this island Asia’s answer to Hawaii in so many ways. We surfed at a few beaches up north in Yilan (宜蘭) and traveled down south to Kenting (墾丁) to interview Taiwanese pro surfer Wenling Chou. With some help from local surfers like Wenling, we created a concise guide of our travels below based on where we have been.

North East Taiwan: Yilan County (宜蘭)

Surfing 
The water temperature is cooler here than down south in Kenting  (墾丁) and we needed 3/2 full wetsuits in January. The water temperature ranges from 15- 20°C in the winter to 25-30°C in the summer. From fall to spring, the swell tends to be bigger and the surf breaks are not very crowded, especially in the weekdays. The waves are smaller in the summer making the beaches extremely crowded with beginner surfers.

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Honey Moon Bay

Honeymoon Bay (蜜月灣)
Quality: Normal
Type: Beach break
Direction: Left and Right
Swell: South, Southeast,  Northeast
Wind: East, Northeast
Tide: Low – Mid tide
Level: All levels
Power: Hollow, Fast, Fun
Preferred by: Shortboarders
Season: Best in fall and early winter
Note: Large sandy beach, great for laying out

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Veggie farms on Double Lions Beach

Choushui  (aka Stinky water / 臭水)
Quality: Normal
Type: Beach break, Point break
Direction: Mostly left
Swell: Northeast
Wind: Northeast
Tide: Mid to high tide
Level: Beginner to experience
Power: Soft and smooth
Preferred by: Longboarders
Note: Parking is available at a local temple close to the main entrance of the beach.  There are public bathrooms and basic shower facilities by the main entrance. Surf by the concrete pipe, to the left has reef by the shore.

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Double Lions Beach has two lion statuses out front

Twin Lion Beach (雙狮海灘)
Quality: Normal
Type: Beach break
Direction: Left and Right
Swell: South in summer, northeast in winter
Wind: southeast and northeast
Tide: Mid – High tide
Level: All levels
Power: mid power
Preferred by: Longboarders and shortboarders
Season: Surfable year round
Note: Mostly hotels and residential home by this beach. Park off the side of the highway across from the temple, or park off the few narrow  pedestrian / bike driveways right by the beach. Great for cycling.

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Our favorite Taiwanese Ice Cream Burrito: Little gems like this street food can be found in Jiashi.

Other Activities and Places to Go
Jiaoxi Town (礁溪)
We stayed in a popular hotspring town called Jiaoxi (礁溪) which had lots of restaurants, souvenir shops and fantastic bakeries to walk around in the evening. All the surf spots we visited were within 15-30 minutes drive from the town Jiaoxi.  There’s even a free foot-soaking tub right by the city center after a long day of walking, hiking or surfing. From Taipei, you can easily catch a train to Jiaoxi but we recommend experiencing Yilan by car or scooter given all the small neighboring coastal towns to visit.

Taipingshan (太平山)
Taipingshan is a major national forest in Yilan. There are plenty of trails, lakes and hot spring to visit. It’s best to visit this area in the fall when you can enjoy the leaves changing colors.

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Amazing view from hiking

Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館)
This museum in Toucheng (頭城) features local art and culture exhibitions. Situated by a harbor with a beautiful ocean view, its distinguished and modern façade is hard to miss.

Accommodation
Hua Ge Hotspring hotel, Jiaoxi Town, Yilan (礁溪華閣溫泉飯店) $$

  • Clean and comfortable rooms with private hot spring bathtub
  • The delicious breakfast buffet is complimentary so prepare to skip lunch
  • There are different types of public hot springs, spa and other facilities within the hotel property
2014-01-27 12.02.45-1

Super George Surf Guide also has budget vacation rental available by the beach

Surf Guide 
Super George Customized surf tours organized by local Yilan surfer George Tsai.  Husband and wife team offering day trips with excellent hospitality.

Transportation to and from Yilan
Private luxury bus
This is the best way to get to Yilan.  It is cheap, nice and fast. You can take it straight from Taipei International Taoyuan Airport for about TW$200 each way (follow airport signs to Bus/Train). Total journey takes around 2.5hrs. Alternatively, take a buse from Taipei Bus Station (by Taipei Train Station), around TW $100 each way and only an hour to get to Yilan.

Local bus 
Take Capital Bus (首都客運) or Kamalan Bus (葛瑪蘭客運) from Taipei and get off at Jiaoxi Station. Both companies have stops at Taipei (台北), Toucheng (頭城), Jiaoxi (礁溪), Yilan (宜蘭) and Luodong (羅東). http://www.kamalan.com.tw/priceRun_1.php

Train
Slow but most scenic route to see northern Taiwan
You can take the train from Taipei Train Station (台北) straight into Jiaoxi Station (礁溪) under TW $100 about 2 hours depending on the route.

Taxi
Easiest but most expensive. It’s about 1 hour to Taipei (~$1000) or 1.5hrs to the airport (~$1500).

South Taiwan: Kenting National Park (墾丁)

Surfing
We spent some time at the surf break Jialeshui (佳樂水) catching up with pro surfer Wenling Chou (aka Tim Mei). At the time of our visit (end January), we only needed a shortie or a wetsuit top. Southern Taiwan tends to be warm all year round at around 20-25°C in the winter and up 30°C or more in the summer.

photo

Jialeshui Beach, It’s a clean beach that draws people from all over the world to surf here.

Jialeshui (佳樂水) 
Quality: regional classic
Type: Beach break
Direction: Left and Right
Swell: South, Southeast, East
Wind: Northwest, East, Northeast
Tide: Low – Mid tide
Level: All levels
Power: Fast, Powerful
Preferred by: longboarders
Note: There are bathrooms, shower and parking facilities right by the break.

Other Activities and Places to Go 
Kenting Main Street (墾丁大街)

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We Surf Taiwan owner, Wenling, took us to Ocean Blue Restaurant on Dawan, which has great Thai/Asian cuisine

We had lunch at the Blue Ocean Restaurant on the main street. It served simple, fast asian food. The street had a lot of bars, hostels, hotels, restaurants, souvenir and surf shops to walk around. We were also told the Kenting Night Market is a must visit but unfortunately we did not have enough time this trip. We recommend staying around this lively town and driving out to the surf spots during the day. We parked right by a beach called Dawan (大灣) which is the closest surf spot to town center. Apparently, it can get crowded during high season but is the most accessible if you are living in town.

Surf Guides
We Surf Taiwan
Customized surf tours organized by pro surfer Wenling Chou. Other cultural and adventure activities can be arranged by the tour company.  

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Simple, clean and comfortable train ride between Taipei and Kaoshiung. You can get the famous Train Benito and delicious snack in train stations!

Transportation to and from Kenting
Train

Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR)
From Taoyuan Airport to Kenting: Take the bus from airport to THSR Taoyuan Station, and take it all the way to THSR Zuoying station. (90min) From there you can take a taxi or bus to get to Kenting, see link below. We took this train from Zuoying back to THSR Taipei Station en route to Yilan County as we spent a night in Taipei. Total is around TW$1500 per person each way. 

Taxi/Shuttle Bus
Taxi Transfers / Car Rentals in South Taiwan
From Zuoying to Kenting:  Taking a taxi or renting a car will be the quickest way to get to Kenting. (2hrs) Be sure to get the driver’s information to arrange your return transfer Alternatively, there is a bus you can catch from Zuoying to Kenting. (3 hrs). Total is around TW$350 per person each way. It’s best to compare and haggle price if you book your travels early.  We were lucky to have surf guides and/or our hotels to do most of the work.

photo 4

Although this trip was relatively short for us, we feel Taiwan is full of potential for more surf tourism. The people are incredibly friendly and helpful, the waves are far less crowded than places we’ve visited and the food is absolutely delicious! Check out this video of some other surf sisters ripping it up here in Taiwan! We hope you come visit soon and do email us Surf Mei Mei if you have more information to add or update.

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