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.
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!
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 service.
For more information, contact the tourist office at (089) 672-027. Green
Island Adventures (call Eddie Viljoen at 0972-065-479) can arrange tours.
If you are interested in diving take a look at their Green
Island scuba diving vacation packages.