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, by foot.
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
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. www.greenislandadventures.com