Sun, sea, sand and surf in Taiwan

Culture | by Aimee Groom
Posted: July 26th, 2010 | Updated: July 25th, 2012 | Comments
Baishawan beach Taiwan This post from Carrie Kellenberger's My Several Worlds set me off on a Monday morning daydream of sandy beaches, wind blowing through my hair, the sound of the sea and the feel of the sunshine warming my bare skin...
"Baishawan is one of the few beaches in northern Taiwan that has remained relatively undeveloped, but that's part of its charm. There is a small town within walking distance where you’ll find convenience stores, coffee shops, and restaurants, but make sure you bring sunblock, water, and adequate shade for the day. Don’t expect to find lounge chairs, sun umbrellas, beach hawkers, and washing facilities on this beach. These luxuries haven’t arrived yet, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it stays that way."
Sadly it couldn't be further from my reality. Shanghai may be hot but the sky is steely gray and the closest sand is the 1.3km stretch at Jinshan Beach, where peace and tranquility are most certainly not the order of the day. Mainland China does have itself a few spots for seaside fun; there's Xiamen, Qingdao, and even Guangdong though it's the big name resorts of Sanya that tend to be the go-to destination for an escape to the sun with all the international trimmings. Taiwan though, had just never really registered on my radar as a beach destination. After a little bit more exploring through Carrie's blog and some of the other linked articles, I've just added several other damn good reasons to travel to Taiwan. You can find five of them in this article (also written by Carrie) on 5 Great Beach Destinations in Taiwan. Surf Taiwan I was particularly interested to read about the popularity of Hainan and Hong Kong, but Taiwan gets a reasonable swell all the way along the coast and though summer typhoons bring bigger waves, the winter month monsoons makes for more consistency. A lot of the most popular spots are in the north, and easily accessible from Taipei though it seems bigger waves and warmer weather can be found on the south coast around Kenting. A relatively new phenomenon, surfing was introduced to Taiwan by US Servicemen on R&R breaks from Vietnam, bringing a taste of the new American craze to Taiwanese shores. Although there were a few pioneers like Mao Guh that that paid it no mind, officially martial law kept the Taiwanese off the water 'til 1987 but since then, they've been catching waves with gusto and the R.O.C Surfing Association estimates there are now about 25,000 surfers in Taiwan. Despite this, there are still some restrictions and coastguards will pull you out of the water when typhoon swells get too strong. According to this account of surfing Taiwan's typhoons, the police even film any surfers who ignore orders to get out of the water so they they can later be identified and hit with a hefty fine. If you want to head over and hang ten in Taiwan or just fancy checking out some of those stellar beaches then check out the surf reports at Magic Seaweed to see where the action's at, and hop on a plane to Taiwan (Taipei flight schedule). Most surf beaches have clubs or chilled out joints like the The Surf Shack in Hung Chuen who'll provide  equipment, lessons, budget accommodation, surf tours and info on the local area. Surfing in Taiwan (Photo: )
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