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
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.
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
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.