4 hidden paradises near Taipei for ocean lovers
January 1, 1970
by Skye Hsiao
If you’ve ever been to my sweet hometown Taipei, you’ll know that it is an amazing and vibrant city with countless activities to do: karaoke, shrimp-fishing, hot spring, night markets, bar-hopping… and the list just goes on. You can never get bored in Taipei.
However, for people like me, a.k.a part-time mermaid, there’s the “nature” part that is missing. Despite having a few hiking trails hidden in mountains like Yangmingshan and Elephant Mountain, I am not satisfied. I desperately need more blueness in my life! Beaches to tan on, rivers and lakes to swim in, waterfalls to jump off from… and without having to drive all the way down to the South-east coast of Taiwan.
Luckily, after living in Taipei for the past 5 years and going out of town every weekend in the search of “blue paradises”, I’ve been able to come up with a list of secret spots around Taipei for us ocean lovers. Just keep on reading and thank me later.
Keelung Waimushang Ocean Pool
This is probably my favorite spot out of the list. Located in the most northern city of Taiwan, in Keelung, Waimushang is the longest coast of the city, with biking and jogging trails along the way, as well as the coolest outdoor pool ever: AN OCEAN POOL.
A lot of people come on weekends for fishing, snorkeling, and even scuba diving. If you’re lucky, you get to see those small groups of older people getting ready for a long swim to the other side of the coast. I talked to them once, they told me that they usually go for a 4-hour swim, no stopping in between… Right. No big deal.
Swimming in Waimushang Ocean Pool is basically like swimming in the wild ocean, but safer. Waves constantly come splashing through the surrounding huge rocks, hundreds of little fishes swimming around your feet; there are also strange but fascinating rock formations on the side of the pool, we often climb up there and tan under the sun (check out the feature picture of this article!). Either way, your weekend getaway can’t get better than this.
how to get there:
- Take a train to Keelung Train Station
- From there, take bus 302/303 to Zhongshan High School
- Walk for 10-15mins
Yup, that’s how we call it in Chinese. The Wormhole is a slot canyon not too far out of Taipei, in New Taipei City, about 120m long and very very deep the whole way. There is a beautiful waterfall on the south end (or on your right-hand side when you arrive and face the river), and if you go the other way where the upstream is, that is where the actual Wormhole starts, your way to paradise.
Beautiful isn’t it? My friend Charlie used a film camera to take this photo so it’s a bit dark, but if you look it up on the Internet you’ll see what I mean.
Keep in mind that it will take some effort to swim through the whole canyon: you will be swimming for more than 10 minutes without stopping because there are zero rocks for you to rest on, just never-ending high walls on both sides. What you can do is bring a swim ring, inflatable armbands or really just anything that floats, and rest on it whenever you need a break from paddling. I’ve even seen a girl passing by on a huge floating unicorn once, so don’t be embarrassed.
Little tip: halfway through there is a small cliff edge on the right with a rope hanging down, that’s the perfect spot for doing some crazy jumping into the water. Don’t worry, the water is deep enough for sure. (Quick story: my boyfriend dived down once to help someone find their phone, he said he couldn’t reach the bottom even after 10 seconds of continuous swimming…)
And please, bring as much food and snacks as you like but DON’T leave the trash behind, seeing empty bottles and chip bags in between rocks and floating on the water is not pleasant at all.
how to get there:
- Take the metro to Muzha MRT Station
- Take the bus 795 to Huangdidian (a little more than an hour)
- Walk for just 2 minutes
Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock
Also situated in New Taipei City, in a district called Ruifang, Elephant Trunk Rock is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a giant rock above the ocean with the shape of an elephant’s trunk. The view from the elephant’s head is breathtaking and is super easy to get on, but unfortunately, you won’t be able to stay too long, quite some tourists will be waiting in line to take a picture with it.
This is not the best part though, I’m just about to share with you my secret spot that is nearby. Most people come here to see the Elephant, but they don’t know that you can practically go anywhere around it for a dip in the ocean! There are a water tunnel and cave right under the Elephant itself, and if you walk past the rock (and the crowd) and keep going towards the ocean, you’ll eventually come to a vast rocky platform with special geological features. That is where you can pick your secret spot.
The water is crystal clear, no pollution whatsoever, with hundreds of colorful fish swimming around. I think I even saw Nemo! Swim, snorkel and do whatever you want for the whole day, there will be no human in sight. Just be careful when you climb out of the water onto the rock, the edges can be very sharp. (what I do is bring my flipflops into the water and wear them when climbing back up!)
P.S. If ever you’re into kayaking, you can find and book kayak tours around Elephant Trunk Rock online.
how to get there:
- Take the train to Ruifang Train Station
- From there, take bus 791 or 1051 to Shen Ao Power Plants (about an hour)
- Walk for 10-15 minutes, follow the signs or the crowd
And there you go! A few secret places for you to go whenever you feel like getting away from the big city, I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do ?