Saturday, 3 August 2013

Wai Ao Beach

Taiwan may not be the first place to spring to mind when thinking of famous surfing destinations, but surf culture grows ever more popular here, amongst Taiwanese and foreigners alike. One surfing spot within easy reach of Taipei is Wai Ao beach, Yilan County.

We spent a hot day there recently on a trip with friends. Rising Surf Inn were our generous hosts, providing a surfing lesson for the kids, a loan of surfboards and boogie boards, and putting on a delicious evening barbecue to fill our stomachs ready for the trip home.

We learned that the beach at Wai Ao really isn't for swimming at all, unless you're into waving sadly at the shore as you're pulled out to the ocean on a riptide. Garrett, our surfing instructor, gave an enlightening safety lesson before anyone set foot in the water, and the kids took full notice of what they were told. Then the fun began. I think the pictures say it all, really.

Conrad did attempt some surfing but spent most of his time on a boogie board. Like most of the kids, it was nearly impossible to get him out of the water for sunscreen top-ups, which were very necessary on such an extremely hot day.

Conrad gets a helping hand from Garrett

The beach wasn't particularly busy, despite it being a weekend in peak season. Rising Sun Inn was popular, however, with surfers of many nationalities making use of its facilities.
Wai Ao beach lies on the train line from Taipei, and although the fast train doesn't stop there, passengers can get off at Toucheng and get a taxi back to Wai Ao quite cheaply.

The mountains provide a backdrop to the rear of the beach and Guishan Island lies off the coast. The area around the beach is still relatively undeveloped, though there are a few other hotels. It's basically a small settlement lining the coastal road and rail line.

I got the feeling that it won't stay that way for long.

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