Temptation in Taiwan
Looking for a new surf destination with stunning scenery, great food, and friendly locals? Taiwan awaits your pleasure.
Christened the Formosa which means “beautiful island” by Portuguese sailors, Taiwan lives up to the name today. Outside the big cities it’s green and mountainous and untouched by urban sprawl. Coastal highways hug the ocean and wind past mist-shrouded mountains, lush tropical forests and sleepy fishing villages. On a good day you’ll see waves peeling off and very few crowds. Taiwan is blessed with quality surf in season and a vibrant culture. When you’re not shredding long point breaks and hollow beach breaks, there’s an exotic land to be discovered.
The best spots are scattered along the east coast. You’ll find river-mouths, boulder-lined beaches and long winding points. Most breaks are good for all surfers and a variety of craft. Pack a log, a fish or a finless variant and you’ll use them all. The best surf season is between October and March when the east coast jags storm swells off Japan. Popular breaks include Jinzun Harbour (near Taitung), which hosts the Taiwan International Suring Open annually, and Palm Tree Point (near Cheng Gong), a long peeling lefthander, considered the countries best wave. The summer months are fickler, but the beautiful south coast gets good and the east side will pump during a typhoon swell.
World Class Food
Eating out is a serious business in Taiwan and the food scene is world class. In the cities regional Chinese food competes with enticing indigenous, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian and a plethora of world food. Snacking is a popular alternative to formal dining there are ten bustling streets devoted to snacking in Taipei’s biggest night market. So much goodness: braised pork rice, Danzi noodles, gua bao, milkfish, and pineapple cake. Steamed dumplings make for a great lunch between waves. CNN Travel readers recently voted Taiwan as the best food destination in the world.
The Taiwanese are courteous and friendly and the whole country is a very safe and easy place to explore. Taiwan’s hospitality is a source of national pride and you’re unlikely to strike any bad vibes anywhere, including in the ocean. Surfing is relatively new in Taiwan and most locals seem happy to share their waves with considerate travellers. Stay at a family-run guest houses or a locally run surf resort and you’ll make new friends. Mandarin is the officially language though many young people speak English.
Taiwan has been called the Switzerland of Asia. With over 280 peaks above 3000 metres it has the largest number and density of high mountains in the world. While there are no ski resorts mountaineering, hiking and mountain biking are all popular pastimes. Spectacular mountain hikes include Yushan Peak, Tianliao Moon World and Alishan. The countryside is still wild and untouched in generous amounts. Around 50% of the island is either protected land or forest.
The Real Locals
Taiwan’s first people, the Formosan, have a fascinating and little-known history which has been revitalized in recent years. The indigenous tribes settled the island around 5000 years ago and lived largely in isolation until the 17th Century. Their rich cultural heritage has endured despite many challenges and is expressed in art, music and food. Some scientists believe the Polynesian bloodline began here with the Formosan.
The Sea Goddess
The Taiwanese worship thousands of gods from the Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian traditions. Surfers may want to give a shout out to Mazu, the Sea Goddess, who’s influence on the ocean is impressive. Mazu is thought to be able to read the future, exorcize demons and dance up a literal storm; she can shapeshift and astral travel. Of the 1500 temples devoted to Mazu around the world, roughly two thirds of them are in Taiwan. Despite being a thoroughly modern country Taiwan is still steeped in tradition and superstition, making it a fascinating and easy country to explore.
Empty east coast peak
Palm Tree Point