The Most Beautiful Beaches in Taiwan

Enjoy big waves and great surfing at Waiao, one of Taiwan's top beaches
Enjoy big waves and great surfing at Waiao, one of Taiwan's top beaches | © Top Photo Corporation / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Alex Robinson
27 April 2021

Taiwan may not boast the beach-holiday reputation of certain other Asian destinations, but there are many stunning stretches and amazing coastal towns on this beautiful island. From Baishawan to Shanshui, here are the most breathtaking beaches in Taiwan.

Qixingtan Beach

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Beautiful beach with the mountain of Taroko National Park in the bacground. Chishintan Beach in Hualien,  Qixingtan Beach,Taiwan
© Mirosław Nowaczyk / Alamy Stock Photo

Taiwan’s western coast is built up all the way from Taipei to Kaohsiung City at the island’s southern tip. But the east is almost empty. Mountains drop from snowy peaks to craggy, forest-covered ridges, broken by steep gorges and cut by winding rivers. Nowhere is the scenery more dramatic than around Hualien, where cliffs plunge into the Pacific, beside creamy bays of soft, grey sand. And the most beautiful of them is Qixingtan, a convenient 2km (1mi) north of downtown Hualien.

Waiao Beach

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travel in Taiwan
© Top Photo Corporation / Alamy Stock Photo

There’s nothing between Taiwan’s wild eastern seaboard and the United States except the Pacific, which means big waves and great surfing. Reachable in an hour from Taipei, Waiao in the northeast is one of Taiwan’s top spots, with a designated surfers-only area at the southern end. Surf shops and cafes line the road behind the sand, so it’s easy to rent a board, and the beach is suitable for all-comers, right down to a beginner’s area, marked out clearly with buoy lines.

Qianshuiwan

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Sunset landscape of the Qianshuiwan Seaside Park at Sanzhi, Taiwan
© Chon Kit Leong / Alamy Stock Photo

Western Taiwan has beaches too, and what they lack in wildness and waves, they make up for in sunset views. Qianshuiwan, just beyond the northern suburbs of Taipei, is as much a park as a strand – with grassy knolls, benches and a seafront promenade. The sandy area is narrow, and couples flock here in the evenings to sip bubble tea together, watching the blood-orange sun drop into the East China Sea.

Baishawan Beach

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Relaxing At Beach Taiwan Baishawan Beach Taipei Republic
© Henry Westheim Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Most of Taiwan’s best beaches are goose-down grey and pounded by powerful Pacific surf, but at Baishawan, a sheltered cove in the far south near the little town of Hengchun, golden sand is lapped by gentle turquoise waves. It’s the closest that mainland Taiwanese beaches get to the Southeast Asian idyll – long, broad and sunny for much of the year, and protected as part of Kenting National Park. Best of all, there’s little development beyond a few seafood restaurants and a campsite.

Green Island

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Green Island, Taiwan, Sleeping Beauty and Pekinese Dog rock formations
© Henry Westheim Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Once the site of a notorious political prison, this tiny island off the southeastern coast of Taiwan is now a tourist hotspot. It’s empty during the week but packed at the weekends with the thousands of visitors who roll up for a couple of days of easy adventures. The best of these include hiking a few kilometres into the uplands for sweeping ocean views and snorkelling over the reefs. A lazier but just-as-fun option is flopping on the sand-and-shingle strands, or relaxing in the thermal seawater springs on the beach at Jhaorih.

Shanshui Beach

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Penghu is a scattered archipelago of reef-ringed rocks linked by causeways, dotted with temples and fringed with golden bays. You’ll find it in the East China Sea between Taiwan and the mainland. Of the many beaches there, the best is Shanshui, a long southern bay on the main island, 10 minutes from the airport. From June to October, the water is bikini-warm, but at other times it’s wetsuit-cold, with a pounding surf. At weekends it’s very busy.

Shihzuwan Beach

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This broad, grey-sand bay on the edge of Kaohsiung – southern Taiwan’s biggest city – feels like a secret. It is squeezed between the Sun Yat-sen University campus and the monkey-populated Chaishan hills, with forest-covered ridges that separate northern Kaohsiung from the sea. There’s just one hotel, and the sands only get busy late in the afternoon, when students gather to chat and take in the most spectacular sunsets.

Fulong Beach

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Fulong Sand Festival, Taiwan
© Mick Kegel / Alamy Stock Photo

Popular among a younger crowd, Fulong Beach is a long stretch of golden sand, some of it partitioned off as a private area, which anyone can use for a small fee. (This also covers use of showers and changing rooms.) If you use the public beach, you’ll be fine – it’s clean and wonderfully scenic, with pathways through the dunes and grasses. The village of Fulong hosts an annual Sand Sculpture Festival, which attracts large crowds. Be at the beach as early as possible – you’ll get some fantastic sunrise photo opportunities. The beach is at the mouth of the Shuang River, which divides it into two parts. You can cross between the two via the pedestrian “rainbow bridge” – access to which depends on the tide, which submerges it in places.

Laomei

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Beauty of nature in New Taipei Taiwan
© Top Photo Corporation / Alamy Stock Photo
With its expansive sandy beach, Laomei is famous for its green troughs and trenches of time- and tide-whittled volcanic rock, which meet the sea in the central section. The best time to visit is in April and May, when the algae grows. (It dies out over the summer, although the troughs are still a sight to behold.) For an exceptionally scenic walk amid astonishing coastal scenery, follow the pathway between Fuguijiao Light House (the northernmost tip of Taiwan), built by the local government.

Dawan Beach

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Back in the day, this beach was reserved for the sole use of guests at the Chateau Hotel. Now the pristine sands are open to everyone, and it is an extremely popular place for a quiet day: despite the continuing presence of a five-star resort, the crowds never become excessive. Unfortunately, swimming is prohibited due to strong currents, although surfing and other water sports get the thumbs-up, so long as you’re wearing buoyancy gear.

Ciaran McEneaney contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on April 27, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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