As my time in Taiwan is drawing closer and closer to an end, I have been thinking of all the places I still have left to explore. Of course, there will never be enough time to experience everything that this incredibly unique island has to offer. Matt has been here visiting for the past few weeks and with both of us working during the day we have not had enough time for adventure as I had hoped.
With the long holiday weekend for Children’s Day and Tomb Sweeping last week we took it as an opportunity to get out. He has been to visit twice before and we did quite a bit of traveling in those two visits. Between his visits and my extensive adventure year last year we’d covered almost every part of the island. The one last place we had left to visit was Green Island, Lǜ dǎo, 綠島
Green Island is a major tourist destination and a divers paradise. For good reason too. It is a small volcanic island about 30 kilometers outside of Taitung city on the east coast of southern Taiwan. In recent years it has become much more developed due to the influx in tourists. However, despite the recent (over)development and holiday weekend, we were able to find some tranquil space to ourselves on this tiny island.
We started in Taitung city (after spending a week of staying up until midnight to buy train tickets the second they were available on-line) and spent two nights there before getting the ferry from the harbor to the island. Unfortunately the weather in Taitung was less than ideal and since neither of us have a Taiwanese license we were rendered transportation-less. We got the ferry early Saturday morning (about an hour ride) and headed back Tuesday afternoon, giving us about three and a half days on Green Island, which I think was enough time to see everything we wanted to and have time to just relax.
We stayed in a guest house near the port where there were plenty of restaurants and small souvenir shops. Saturday we weren’t able to get an electronic scooter until Sunday so we walked to the cultural center about 3km from our guest house. A small memorial built for the political prisoners that were once held in the prison that Green Island initially became famous for during the reign of the Kuomingtan.
Sunday we were able to get our hands on an electric scooter rental and took it all around the island. The first thing we did was “hike” across the Ancient Mountain trail that cross the island. The most challenging part of the trail was trying to get an electric scooter carrying two people up the hill to the trail head. It was only about 3km long and mountain or hiking trail wouldn’t be my choice of words if I were the one to name it, but it allowed for an easy stroll and some neat nature.
After, we continued driving and stopped at Swallows Cave. There was a signpost to mark it but we kind of stumbled upon it by accident. It was picturesque. The sandy beach contrasted the black lava rocks which were covered by a deep green moss.
Thoroughly sunburned, we continued our journey and circled the island to the southern side. Stopping at the marked scenic spots along the way. Including the “Little Great Wall”
Early the next morning we went to the hot spring, famous for its heated salt water. One of only three in the entire world! Several springs were located right on the coast line that allowed bathers a view of the ocean while soaking. The really hot ones were in the man made pool-like section, which we were too sunburned to enjoy.
Nearby, was a short staircase leading up to a scenic viewpoint.
We made sure to circle the island at least once more before returning our rental and spent the rest of the day reading on the beach.
Our last morning we walked as far as we could and explored the tide pools just past the cultural center and the three great rocks.
Tuesday afternoon we got the ferry back to Taitung and then had train tickets to Taipei and then back to Taichung (since we were unable to get them directly from Taitung to Taichung because of the insane demand over the holiday weekend) so technically we did do a full circle around the whole of Taiwan, another thing I can cross off the bucket list before I say Zàijiàn!