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Joyce Chen

Joyce Chen

Hey there! My name is Joyce, and I’m a Taiwanese American student studying Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University. In Taiwan, I work as an English tutor to 2 adorable preschoolers. When I’m not studying or working, I love to travel throughout Asia! Throughout the incredible journey life has taken me on, I never fail to take a step back and thank God for the opportunities I have been given and to reflect on my faith. I hope you enjoy this little piece of my life, and thanks for visiting!


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Green Island Getaway



Because international travel restrictions are still in place, this year, I’m heading to some of the lesser known spots in Taiwan! First stop: Green Island. 

This little island off the southeastern coast of Taiwan is the perfect getaway for water-lovers, with activities like snorkeling and diving at different spots of the island. There’s also plenty of nightlife, so you’ll find yourself busy from early morning to late into the night. We were incredibly lucky to be blessed with good weather for the four days we were there, just barely missing a typhoon as we left on the last. So, without further ado, here’s a rundown of our trip! 

(All prices are listed in NTD)

Transportation:

Getting to Green Island from Taipei-

We took a train to Taitung, then a taxi from the Taitung train station to Fugang Harbor to board a ferry to Green Island. If you’re traveling during peak season, make sure you’re ready to book those train tickets two weeks before your date. We were a couple minutes late and tickets went FAST so we had to take a longer 5 hour train ride. If you’re quick, you can get trips that are only around 3 hours. (Tickets were $604 one way.) There is public transportation available from the train station to the harbor, but you’ll find that it takes over an hour. After sitting on a train for that long, we didn’t want to subject ourselves to more sitting than necessary. A taxi will only cost around $300-$350, totally worth it in my opinion. The final stretch is the ferry! Remember to take motion sickness pills an hour in advance, because this can be a rough ride. We were lucky that the water was pretty calm during both our trips, but we’ve heard many horror stories of people throwing up on this journey. (Ferry tickets are $1120 round trip.)

 

While on Green Island- 

Your only option is pretty much to rent a scooter. The roads are small, so cars can be inconvenient. If you’d like, I’m sure you could get by on bicycle too since it’s a relatively small island. But, scooters are your best bet. We rented our scooter through our B&B, and for a newer model, paid $500/day. (Older models were $300/day, but we wanted to stay on the safe side. In case something should happen, neither of us would know what to do.) If you don’t have a scooter license, I believe you can rent an electric scooter instead. There’s one gas station on the entire island, next to the port, but we never had to fill up on gas as one full tank was more than enough for our trip. 

 

Lodging:

We wanted to save money on the hotel so that we could spend more on activities/foods. We booked Green Island XD B&B (台東綠島翔鼎民宿) from Agoda for a little under $4000 for three nights. We had a room with one bed, and shared a bathroom outside the room with another room. We received breakfast vouchers of $50 per person each morning for a breakfast spot nearby. For two people, I think it was pretty cheap. We REALLY appreciated the owners though and definitely want to highlight them here. We had booked pretty much everything through them for the sake of ease (ferry tickets, scooter rental, luggage delivery, diving, snorkeling, and fishing). They worked out all the times for us and connected us with amazing guides. The owners are a friendly pair of brothers. We found that reviews on Agoda warned of some unfriendly hosts, but this might’ve been due to language barriers. So, if you speak Mandarin, fear not! The location of this B&B was also super convenient, located in the Gong Guan village near a ton of food options and sightseeing destinations. 

 

Itinerary: 

 

Day 1: 

Prison Ice-

Because Green Island used to be mainly a prison island (there is still a working prison there!), you’ll find a lot of prison-themed places. This shaved ice place is one of the most popular, and includes the famous Green Island topping, seaweed! Yes, it sounds weird to put seaweed on shaved ice, but it’s surprisingly good. Don’t knock it til ya try it! 



Fishing/Eating our catch-

We joined a fishing charter that cost $800 per person. There were only two rods on the boat, so everyone had to take turns, but you were guaranteed to catch as least one fish! We mainly caught yellowfin tuna, and it was really quite easy. Fishing while watching the sunset out on the ocean is really something special. Once you return to the port, the fish is distributed evenly among families. We walked away with a medium-sized tuna and found a restaurant willing to clean and cook it up for us! After a big of haggling, we were able to settle on $700 for five different dishes made from our catch. The chef at 綠島機場羊肉爐 created some delicious dishes and we left with leftovers and extremely full stomachs. (Side note: 1 medium tuna is more than enough for a family of four… We were way too ambitious with our appetites.) 

Stargazing-

We ended the evening stargazing near the lighthouse at 烏油窟. Bring a picnic blanket if you choose to do this since the beach is all pebbles and can hurt if you want to lie down on them. You can see so many stars since it’s quite far from light pollution. Just note that if it’s a full moon, you’ll want to go a bit earlier because the moon’s brightness can affect visibility. We used the SkyView stargazing app to identify different constellations. Another good spot for stargazing is 大白沙 (Dabaisha Beach)! 

 

Day 2: 

Diving-

This was probably one of the most extreme things we did on this trip, as neither of us had ever been diving before. We had one-on-one instructors at 綠島好朋友潛水中心 who took us to 柴口, so we felt assured the entire time. Our group was very small, just us and one of the owners from the B&B came along with us too to help take pictures. We had a little info session before heading off into the water. To say we dived might be a bit of an overstatement, since all we did was really lie still like corpses as our instructors pulled us along. But, we still got an amazing underwater experience, seeing diverse fish and coral reefs. We were lucky and even saw a sea turtle! ($2500/person)



Sightseeing-

We spent the afternoon riding the scooter along the coast to different scenic spots. I like to call it “rock-spotting” since we were looking out for different shaped rocks. Taiwanese people have a special skill of finding shapes out of random formations. We saw Confucious facing a wall, a rooster, a dog, and even Sleeping Beauty. We also “climbed” the Little Great Wall, which was basically a very breezy walk up some stairs to two pergolas. Another worthy site was the Horseshoe Bridge. There are stairs where you can walk down under the bridge and splash around in the water. (It’s quite slippery though, so be careful!) 

Jumping off Zhongliao Port-

Zhongliao Port is a popular snorkeling spot, but it’s also a great place for cliff diving! It’s really refreshing to jump off the walls of the port into the cool waters. It’s pretty deep below, so you don’t have to worry about hitting bottom, and it’s an easy swim over to some rocks at the side to climb back up. 

Mr. Hot Dog-

We had dinner at Mr. Hot Dog, a strongly recommended restaurant/bar. Don’t be deceived by the name, as there are no hot dogs being sold here. It’s pretty basic Taiwanese versions of American fare. I had a flying fish roe pizza that was really delicious and unique. They do a lot of specials like buy one get one free shots or bikini nights. 

Deeper Island Bar-

We ended our night at Deeper Island Bar, a spot recommended to me by my boss. You won’t find this place on any map, so check out their instagram for instructions on how to find them (@deeper_island_bistro_bar). Drinks were roughly $300, but you could add a shot for $100. Their drinks had really interesting names (I had “Adam’s Forbidden Fruit”) and tasted pretty good. The vibes were pretty laid back, and the crowd seemed to be more of the 網美 type. Make reservations for this place ahead of time, as it can be quite popular. 

 

Day 3: 

Snorkeling-

The original plan was to go snorkeling at Blue Hole, but because there was an imminent typhoon, the waves were too big and conditions were too dangerous. The B&B owner was our guide/instructor for this activity. We ended up just taking some pictures there, and headed to some other spots nearby. After a bit of light rock climbing, we reached a little swimming hole with a waterfall where we could get in and cool off. Then, we headed to some lagoons where we could cliff dive and do a bit of snorkeling. Again, we’re so thankful that the owner took us to alternatives so that we could still have (safe) fun! ($500/person)

See Sea Toast-

For lunch, we had the CUTEST toasties that had fish imprinted on them. One of the flavors even had 皮蛋 (preserved egg) in it, which was surprisingly delicious. They also sold really cute postcards and handmade carved soaps here. 

Niutousan 牛頭山-

This “hike” was another super easy walk with rewarding views. Be sure to go all the way to the end to see the dramatic cliff meeting the ocean. I think this could be an amazing picnic spot, if you bring a blanket and some snacks (if you don’t mind the blazing sun… there are no shady spots here).

 

Dabaisha Beach 大白沙-

The sand at this beach will be the finest you find on the island, although it’s still quite coarse and can hurt your feet. There’s a walkway that extends into the water and disappears at high tide, so it’s a really cool photo spot. This is another popular snorkeling site, and we saw many groups heading out into the water. 

AYCE BBQ 阿剛炭烤-

This is the most popular BBQ spot on the island, so MAKE RESERVATIONS. For only $250, it was all you can eat of meats and veggies! This is very Taiwanese-style BBQ, with toast and even sides like 米血糕. You can pay a little more for dishes like oysters and shrimp, or drinks like beer and soda. We opted for an extra bottle of 蘋果西打 Apple Sidra because what’s BBQ without something fizzy?! It can get HOT when you eat here, so dress accordingly.

 

Oasis Bar 流浪

This one is a super lowkey bar, with cheap drinks running around $200 and plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives. What makes this one extra special is that there are individual tents so it feels really private. There are also outdoor tables if you have a bigger group. The crowd here seemed to be a lot more younger, casual groups. 

 

Day 4: 

Sunrise at Zhaori Hot Springs-

The hot springs are a MUST when you come to Green Island, since it’s one of only three natural saltwater hot springs in the world! We woke up at 4:30 to rush over and watch the sunrise. To our surprise, there were SO MANY people there already when we arrived. Unfortunately, the weather was poor so we didn’t get *amazing* views, but it was still fun nonetheless! We also purchased a bag of eggs to cook in the hot springs. 

Snorkeling (again!)-

The B&B owner offered to take us snorkeling again (for free!) at the same spot we went diving. It was really nice because again, it was only the two of us + the owner, so we didn’t have to feel lost or ignored among other people. He took a ton of nice pictures for us again, and even taught us how to free dive! He was very patient and even let us mess around near shore as we fake rode the waves on lifesaver rings. 

 

BONUS: 

Taitung Railway Station-

Leave at least an hour between arriving at the train station and actually getting on the train! There are many little stores in front of the station selling local snacks and souvenirs. I kid you not, I purchased something from *every* store there, excluding the 7-11 and handicrafts stand. 

 

Overall:

I think four days was the perfect amount of time to spend on Green Island. We were able to see pretty much everything there, and we never felt too rushed or bored. You’re on vacation, so enjoy the slower pace of island life. I’ve heard of people making it a day trip, but you won’t really be able to fully enjoy everything the island has to offer. Just remember to use sunscreen and consistently reapply! The sun down there is RUTHLESS. While there is no doubt you will get tan, you definitely don’t want to burn! One final note: We (sadly) noticed a lot of trash around the beaches. Some of it is washed up from the ocean but most of it is left behind by visitors. If you visit, be sure to pick up after yourselves. Or, bring a bag with you and pick up some of the trash you see along the way! Happy travels!


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