COMPASS MAGAZINE, September 2006.

Taiwan's Pacific Ocean paradise: Green Island

-- By Lishea Zheng Translated by Sho Huang

From the east-coast city of Taitung, it's only 12 minutes by plane or a 50-minute ferry ride before start marveling over the colorful coral reefs and tropical fish around Green Island. Twenty meters below the surface in the ShiLon diving area, you can see coral shaped like huge mushrooms and 12-meter-tall reefs that are estimated to be more than 1,200 years old.

Over time, coral has also formed into hills around the island. On the northeastern point of Green Island is Lo Men Rock, which seems to be dominated by willow-like corals. Most of the fish congregate between Da Bai Sa (big white sand) and the hot springs, located at the southern point. There are seven scuba diving points for beginners, and 20 for intermediate and advanced divers. Scuba diving walkways are built at ShiLon, Da Bai Sa and Chai Ko.

The whole island is only 22 kilometers long. The five-star-grade Zi Ping Campsite is situated on a grassy hill which allow you a great view of the ocean. The island also includes the above-mentioned Chao Ri Hot Spring, one of only three salt-water hot springs in the world. The temperature here stays between 53 and 90 degrees, changing according to the tides. Spas and indoor hot spring pools have been constructed and stay open 24 hours a day till the end of September. As one can imagine, the campsite and the hot spring are more popular as the night moves on. Strangely-shaped rocks can be seen here, with the "Pekingese Dog" and "Sleeping Beauty" standing out the most. While strolling down the beach, you can enjoy the view and watching the sunset from Niu Tou Mountain is a great experience as blazing orange colors immerse the ocean and rocks. It's an unforgettable sight.

At night, tourists can take a walk along the one and only road in Nan Liao to taste green algae shaved ice. The original algae ice shop, Green Life, serves ices with a heavier ocean flavor, while Blue Sea does it the other way. By the harbor, a Western-style sign notes Xiou Mao Kong (little cat sky). This is a lovely guesthouse sitting on a hill. The host and hostess are super friendly and a two-day-one-night deal for each person is NT$2,400 (double room) or NT$1,980 (6-8 persons). The price includes room, pick-up from Taitung airport or bus station, ferry ticket, scooter rental, snorkeling, night walk, breakfast and travel insurance. For an extra NT$800, there is a hot spring ticket, and lunch and dinner will be taken care of as well. They also can communicate in English. With all that taken care of, all you need to bring is your backpack to enjoy this coral paradise.

Many thanks to the Taitung Tourism Office for its assistance in preparing this article.


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