10 Action-packed Aquatic Adventures in Taiwan
From adrenaline-pumping canyoneering expeditions to serene sunrise sea kayaking tours, Taiwan is brimming with opportunities to play on, in, and under the water.
There’s water, water everywhere in Taiwan. Surrounded by seas—East China to the north, South China to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the east, and the Taiwan Strait to the west—and boasting more than 20 rivers, the island nation is naturally suited for all sorts of water adventures. In addition, Taiwan’s extensive coastal railway system and Taiwan Tour Bus routes make it easy to travel to connect to water adventures. from any major city. Discover 10 ways to dive into the wet and wild side of Taiwan.
Catch a wave.
The surf’s always up in Taiwan, home to year-round waves, off-the-beaten-path beaches, and a laid-back surfing culture. Pounding Pacific breakers make East Coast beaches—particularly Donghe, Fulong, and Jinzun—meccas for seasoned surfers searching for big swells. For milder wave action, go south to Jialeshui, a rising surfing hot spot in Kenting National Park where beginners can rent boards and learn to ride.
See dolphins and whales in the wild.
Home to more than 20 different species of dolphins and whales, Taiwan’s East Coast National Scenic Area is marine mammal wonderland. May to September, whale-watching cruises depart Hualien’s Shiti Harbor and Taitung’s Chenggong Harbor for offshore habitats rich with marine life. Prepare to be amazed by sightings of magnificent species, such as spinner and pantropical spotted dolphins, and sperm and pilot whales.
Climb into canyoneering.
Dial up the adrenaline level on hiking by adding rushing water, big boulders, and other natural obstacles. Taiwan’s spectacular ravines, waterfalls, and rivers create big-thrill courses for guided canyoneering, or river-tracing, expeditions. Climb, dive, scramble, and wade your way along popular canyoneering routes, such as the Baibao and Shanpodang Rivers near Hualien, Jiajiuliao Stream in New Taipei City, and the Touqian River in Yangmingshan National Park.
Cayoneering, or river tracing, is a great activity to show Taiwan's amazing rivers.
Ride the wind.
Steady year-round breezes, clear water, and pancake-flat terrain make the Penghu archipelago one of the planet’s top spots for windsurfing. Powerful winter gusts (October to March) attract Olympic-class windsurfers. Watch them ride the big air at the RS:One 2019 World Championships, November 12 to 14. Spring and summer, learn how to windsurf, rent gear, or take an offshore windsurfing trip with Liquid Sport Penghu. On the mainland, the windsurfing hotspot is Dapeng Bay, southwestern Taiwan’s largest lagoon.
Explore undersea wonders.
Plunge into a dazzling underwater world on a scuba diving or snorkeling trip off one of Taiwan’s offshore islands. The clear waters off the coasts of Little Liuqiu Island and the Penghu Islands are teeming with brilliant tropical fish. Vibrant coral reefs ring volcanic Green Island and Orchid (Lanyu) Island, creating deep-sea marine life views at shallow, snorkel-friendly depths. Take a guided Green Island diving, snorkeling, or glass-bottom boat tour with Safety Stop Diver.
Kayak around the Moon.
Paddle the tranquil moon portion of Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan’s largest and only natural lake. Named for its two sections—a fiery sun-shaped body of water to the north and a crescent moon-shaped expanse to the south—the idyllic lake is the centerpiece of the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area. Water taxis and boat tours zip across the larger Sun Lake, while the smaller Moon is a peaceful haven for kayaking and other human-powered water sports.
Hit the beach.
Splash, swim, and play in the surf on one of Taiwan’s sandy North Coast beaches. At the country’s northwestern tip, visit Baishawn (“White Sand Bay”) beach at low tide when sandbars and tidal pools offer extra room to roam. On the northeastern coast, Fulong Beach is legendary for its golden sand. Visit during April’s annual Fulong International Sand Sculpture Arts Festival to see monumental above ground, underground, and upside down sand creations.
Raft the rapids.
Romp down a rushing river on a big-thrill whitewater rafting trip through the Xiuguluan River Canyon. The 65-mile-long Xiuguluan, eastern Taiwan’s longest river, travels from the Central Mountain Range to the Pacific Ocean. Guided rafting tours cover the 15-mile canyon stretch of the river from Rei Shui to Da Gangkou. The adrenaline-pumping route boasts more than 20 sets of rapids.
Fuel the need for speed.
Kick your watersports game into high gear on Taiwan’s tropical southern coast. Nanwan (“South Bay”) Beach in Kenting National Park is a playground for big-thrill motorized and towed water toys, such as Jet Skis, banana boats, tubes, and other inflatables. Arrive early to rent a ride and zip around the bay before it gets too busy.
Take a sunrise sea kayaking tour.
Watch the day’s first golden rays of sun rise over the Pacific on a guided sea kayaking excursion in Hualien. May to September, local outdoor tour operator MeetMyGuide leads sunrise paddling trips along the base of jaw-dropping Qingshui Cliff. Towering close to 3,000 feet above sea level at its highest point, the dramatic Qingshui is a 13-mile stretch of cliffs dropping nearly straight down into the sea.