Taiwan Fun Magazine, July 2004


Five Hours On Green Island

By Simon Foster Translated by Iva Huang

     It was a wet and windy morning, and I was supposed to be going whale watching. But the whales hadn't arrived, so instead I boarded the catamaran from Fugang (five kilometers north of Taitung City) to Green Island.

     As we approached the angular features of the island set against gunmetal gray skies, I tried to think about what to expect. I realized I knew little of the island, save that it was famous as a prison, had good diving, and had hot springs on the beach!

     Soon we emerged from the choppy black-blue swell, and arrived at Nanliao Fishing Harbor. Immediately I was besieged by moped touts, one of who led me to a rental machine (usual price NT$400-500 for a full day). Not especially new, but cheap and it ran. Other options for getting around the island include a local bus service, taxi (about NT$700 for a round trip), or if you have time, by foot.

     After filling the scooter with gas and my stomach with noodles, I hit the road--the only road. I followed it for all of its 17 kilometers, passing the tiny airport, and was struck by how the island lives up to its name. Greenness was everywhere; luxuriant foliage of every verdant hue surrounded me. Even the water looked green.

     Soon I was past the lighthouse and open to the rugged ocean scenery. From here Green Island is more akin to parts of Iceland than Taiwan. The vivid green of the striated uplands tumbled down to craggy black volcanic rocks where waves cascaded against the shoreline. The road moved in and up a little and, leaving the bike, I clambered along a wooden path to a pavilion. From this promontory I could see dramatic headlands and bays in both directions.

     Further down the road, I came to Chaoji (www.sunrisehotsprings.com, tel: (089) 671-133). This beach is like few others in the world--two others to be precise, one in Italy, the other in Japan. At Chaoji, for the modest fee of NT$200 you can soak away your woes in hot sulfur springs (without the smell) on the shoreline, whilst watching the sun rise over the Pacific. The three pools are cooled by the tide and there's also an indoor area about a 100 metres inshore which offers hydrotherapy jets. But, on a wet blustery day, the real pleasure was hiding in the ocean pools, every now and then emerging to cool down in the sea-spray laden wind.

     If you're tempted to stay by the springs, there's a campsite (tel: (089) 672-906) a kilometer down the road, plus plenty of other accommodation options around the island. Booking ahead is as advisable in summer.

     Refreshed and revitalized, it was time to move on. I rounded the southern tip to the warm and calm leeward side of the island; the road ran at sea level and I passed the stunning white coral beach of Dapaisha amidst the green. Before I knew it, I was back at the harbor; I had been here a little over five hours, but could have easily spent a few days exploring the nooks and crannies. Chatting to other tourists, I found we were all leaving with the same, marvelous impressions of Green Island.

Getting There
Boat tickets are typically NT$800 return; services are frequent. Each day, there are several flights from Taitung (NT$602 one-way), and also a helicopter service.
For more information, contact the tourist office at (089) 672-027. Green Island Adventures (call Eddie Viljoen at 0927-206-5479, or Jacky Lee at 0937-600-105) can arrange tours.