Getting wet and wild at Taiwan's water parks

By Priscilla Chen, Douglas Habecker and Karen Schmitt, translated by Sharon Yang and Cheryl Robbins

It's blazing hot, stifling and so humid you feel like you're coated in sticky sugar. In other words, it's just another normal summer in Taiwan. The best solution for those in dire need of a serious cool-down is a trip to the water park. Over the past few years, Taiwan has seen a growing number of international-class water parks that easily provide a full day's worth of wet and wild fun. As the sampling below shows, there's plenty of relief to be found, whether you're in the northern, central or southern parts of the island.

Formosa Fun Coast

Formosa Fun Coast (Taipei County)

1-6, Xia She Zi, Xia SheTsun, Bali Hsiang (township), Taipei County
Tel: (02) 2610-5200; Fax: (02) 2610-4445
Hours: 9 am-5 pm until the end of September
Admission: NT$550 adults; Discount tickets NT$490 (senior citizens, students, military personnel, law enforcement personnel and children under 110 cm in height)
Formosa Fun Coast covers an area of 12 hectares and has waterslides of varying heights, lengths and speeds, including the longest waterslide in Southeast Asia. With a length of 400 meters, it takes about 20 minutes to finish the ride. Before climbing up to the entrance of another thrilling waterslide, "Jet Stream", it is necessary to first pass a swimming test, due to the fact that you drop 20 meters into a 360-centimeter-deep pool in just three seconds. There are also other slides where you use a rafting tube. For those who prefer milder fun, there is a meandering 700-meter-long river, to float on using rubber tubes, that runs along the edge of the park, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the passing scenery. In the Caribbean Paradise area, families can enjoy the water together with facilities like a 20-centimeter-deep pool, upon which a large bucket of water is dumpled every 1.5 minutes, or the water gun play area. In the Bermuda Triangle area is a new addition to the park, a 300-meter-long slide that is separated into three sections. In the first section, you slowly pick up speed before nearly free-falling and then spiraling downward. This is one of the most thrilling rides in the park.
Mala Bay

Mala Bay (Taichung County)

115, An Mei Road, Houli Hsiang, Taichung County
Tel: 080-054-080
Hours: 9 am-9 pm weekdays (open 8:30 am weekends)
Admission: General NT$700 for visitors over 110 cm (NT$420 after 4 pm); NT$600 for students, senior citizens over 65 and handicapped; NT$630 for general group tickets; NT$550 for student group tickets; NT$200 for kids between 90-110 cm.
This international-class water park was designed by US-based White Water and claims to be the biggest on the island. One of its prime attractions is one of Asia's biggest wave pools, measuring 110 by 33 meters. Here, waves up to 2.4 meters in height provide perfect body surfing conditions. The shore area is lined by palm trees, white sand and nice cabanas that can be rented for the day. There are plenty of other attractions, including the Aumahu water slides, originating from a five-story tower. There are different routes--blue, red, green and yellow--but the red tubes are the real thrillers, taking sliders up to 50 miles per hour for a real adrenaline rush. The A-Chu water tubing rides also offer a variety of fun routes into a pool below. Swimmers below are regularly doused with a huge roof-top bucket of water. For relaxation, there is the Lazy River tube float and special water-run areas for younger kids. In between the water attractions are plenty of reasonably-priced food outlets (no outside food allowed), selling burgers to Malay-style satay, plus shops with swimsuits, hats, sun tan lotion, towels, souvenirs and similar items. Visitors can leave their personal items in lockers and charge any expenses to a water-proof electronic "E-band" they wear. The professional staff is very well trained and maintains strict safety standards. Detailed signs in Chinese and English also make the park user friendly.
Blue Lagoon Water Park

Blue Lagoon Water Park (Kaohsiung City)

700, KaiShuan 4th Rd.
Tel: (07) 811-9780
Hours: 10 am-10 pm in June; 9 am-10 pm July-August
Admission before 5 pm: NT$500 general (NT$600 during summer vacation); NT$390 (NT$490 during summer vacation) children 110-130 cm; NT$200 (all-year round) children 90-110 cm; Admission after 5 pm: NT$420 general (NT$500 during summer vacation); NT$320 (NT$390 during summer vacation) children 110-130 cm; NT$200 (all-year round) children 90-110 cm
Clear blue waters, swaying palms and tropical ambiance are the obvious perks of a visit to this water park, but safety is another draw. Thrill rides are fully supervised and routinely monitored, and all equipment and water conditions are checked daily prior to opening. If systems do not bear up to international water park standards, the park does not open until the problem is corrected. A team of lifeguards and medical professionals is always on hand. Attractions include Wave Lagoon, with artificial waves to surf or swim; Thunder River, with a 13-meter tower and slides for single or double ride rafting tubes; Calypso Curves, with 12-meter slides; Caribbean Waters, with 350 meters of river-like streams for floating; Big Jamaica, with family rafting rides for groups of up to five; and Terror Tower, with 18-meter tower slides and high-speed triple drop flume. For those who like to have fun in the water without too much excitement, there is Caribbean Home, a four-story tree house with water activities, as well as Island Crossing, a water challenge game, and Cool Jamaica, a cold water spa massage facility. There is also Kiddies Cove, with a shallow wading pool, a food court and a live entertainment plaza. Swimsuits, flippers, tanning lotion and an array of beach gear are available to make a ride on the waves effortless.