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.