Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Northeast Coast - Surf Spots in Taiwan 3

Waiao Beach

Shuangshi "Double Lions"

Northeast Coast

Waiao is a small coastal town in Northeastern Taiwan with several hostels, family-run convenience stores, a seafood restaurant, and little else. Dramatically different than bustling Taipei, Waiao offers fresh air, beaches, hiking, and a laidback atmosphere that will recharge your body and soul after dealing with the stresses of living in Taipei.

There are two options to get to Waiao by train. The first, take the slow train ("dian che") East-bound out of Taipei towards Ilan or Hualien. After about two hours, get off at the train station at Waiao. Walk North until you see a large temple on your left. Two statues of golden lions guard the parking lot on the opposite side of the road, hence the name of the spot. The second option, take a fast train East-bound out of Taipei towards Ilan or Hualien and get off at Toucheng station. It takes about an hour and a half to get there. From Toucheng station, get a taxi, pass Wushigang after 10 minutes, pass a large temple on the left, and get off oposite the next temple at Waiao beach, less than 5 minutes from Wushigang.

Eric from New York at Waiao Beach, Northeast Coast.

Waiao's fine black sand gets scortching hot on a sunny summer day. There's usually a small amount of garbage, shells, and fishing equipment stranded along the beach. Watch out for fishing nets left in the water that make getting back to shore like paddling through an obstacle course. There are a few tables along the sea wall in front of the beach. Bathrooms can be found at the temple. There is a place that charges $20 NT for showers just next to the beach.

The shoreline at Waiao changes with the tides and the seasons. It can be shallow or deep along the edge of the water. There are large rocks on the left and right ends of the beach and the middle part is sandy without coral or rocks. However, there is one large rock in the middle on the right side of the beach that is usually submerged. It has a buoy attached to it and is directly in front of the blue tarp covered shelter that's on the sea wall. There can be strong currents and rips, especially during typhoons.

Turtle Mountain Island ("Guishandao") at Waiao Beach.

The wave condition at Waiao can vary anywhere between being completely flat on some summer days to double-overhead bombs in the winter that you won't ever forget. In general, summer is small or even flat unless a typhoon is bringing a giant swell from the Pacific. Winter is more consistant.

There are usually less people surfing at Waiao Beach than nearby Honeymoon Bay or Wushi Harbor. Sometimes there is a Taiwanese guy selling coffee, tea, and snacks in the parking lot across from the temple. The locals are friendly and helpful as long as you show them respect.

The rocks on the right side, looking South at Waiao beach.

There aren't many options for food here. There are two small shops that sell chips, snacks, drinks, beer, binlang, and cigarettes. There is one seafood restaurant South of the beach on the main coastal road. The best option is to go to Toucheng for Japanese food or dumplings.

There are several hostels and a few boardshops closer to Wushigang, just South of Waiao beach.


a.k.a. Wushi Harbor

Northeast Coast

The same two options to get to Waiao Beach by train apply to getting to Wushigang. If you get off at Waiao station, walk South, turn left through the temple gate on the opposite side of the road and walk until you see entrances to the beach on your left. Alternatively, take a taxi from Toucheng train station to Wushigang, turn right through the temple gate, and get out next to the entrances.

The harbor wall at Wushigang, Northeast Coast.

The sand at Wushigang is fine and black. The beach is quite large and is a long walk from the beach entrances to the water. Make sure you wear sandals on a hot sunny day or your feet will seriously burn. There's less garbage and fishing equipment here than other beaches as more people come to the beach here. There are bathrooms at the Shelter, a bar/ hostel next to the beach entrances. There are free showers outside next to the Shelter.

Ther shoreline at Wushigang is similar to that at Waiao Beach. There is no coral here. There can be strong currents and rips, especially during typhoons. Watch out for any fishing nets along the shoreline.

Fishing boats and Guishandao- early a.m. at Wushi Harbor.

Waves can break right on the harbor wall on certain days. It can get really crowded with surfers trying to shoot around the wall on a good day. Careful if you surf next to the wall- watch out for the huge tack shaped boulders. There are several good breaks along the beach here. Most people stay on the right side, but good waves can be found anywhere to the left.

The people at Wushigang are friendly. Boards can be rented on the beach. It gets really crowded during the summer and on weekends. Many people stay in the nearby hostels to get up at 5 a.m. and get the first waves of the day.

Turtle Mountain Island ("Guishandao") at Wushigang.

The Shelter has some western food for decent prices. Sometimes they have $50 NT cans of Becks beer. The shop next to the Shelter has rice and noodles for cheap. There are several seafood restaurants inside the harbor in the building on the left. They're on the second floor, but a bit pricey. By far the best option for food is the Japanese restaurant in Toucheng. Turn right in front of the train station in Toucheng, and then left a few hundred meters later. The food is cheap and excellent including free sweetened black tea and miso soup. Another option is the dumpling restaurant in front of the train station in Toucheng. There are several other retaurants in Toucheng as well as a 7-11 and a Family Mart.

There are a few boardshops along the coastal road near Wushigang. The one across from the temple gate has a nice selection of wetsuits, rash guards, board shorts, hats, and anything else you might need. Further North on the left is a shop that fixes dings for cheap.

There are several hostels near Wushigang. The closest one to the beach is the Shelter. Prices vary at the different hostels. Camping is excellent anywhere on the beach. Better yet, find a beach house to rent and you'll have it made.


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