A beautiful stretch of coastline that lies at the tip of a crescent bay overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Back in August, my friends and I decided to take a much needed beach vacation in the eastern part of Taiwan. Like all dramatic holiday stories, Super Typhoon Nanmadol hit our island the day before we were set for the beach.
There were some serious debate on whether it was worth it to reschedule, but we finally decided that as long as our train to Hualien was not going to be canceled the next morning, we would go forth with the plan even it meant staying indoors watching the huge waves from our hotel room balcony.
The typhoon was supposed to be at its peak throughout our holiday, but our lucky stars came and turned it the other way round. We had the coolest breeze and minimal rain (occasionally too sunny to keep our eyes wide open), which is the best kind of post-typhoon weather you can get. On the down side, this meant that there wasn’t going to be beautiful blue skies and white clouds in any of our pictures but I think you’d agree that there is some kind of eerie grandeur in gray skies.
The Seven Star Lake (Qixingtan, 七星潭) was once the name of a series of small lakes situated where the Hualien Airport now stands. However, Taiwan’s Japanese rulers filled in the lakes as part of a modernization drive in 1936 and the local people retreated to the coastal area their descendants now still call Qixingtan.
Hualien is one of the most laid back cities in Taiwan and it’s the perfect place to go to if you’re looking for a vacation to relax and do basically nothing all day. That’s not to say there’s nothing much to do. In fact, hiking or biking along the 21 kilometers of recently reconstructed pathways is one of the most popular activities in the area. Most local hotels provide bicycles to use for free if you’re staying with them. Another fun place to visit is the Katsuo Museum, dedicated to the Japanese art of producing the dried fish snack known as katsuo.
About ten minutes by car into the city, you can find night markets, local cuisine, and souvenir shops. If you have more time, a day tour to the natural wonder of Taroko National Park would be a great addition to your itinerary.
How to get there: Alight at Hualien Station OR Beipu Station on the North-Link Line of Taiwan Railway Administration. Travel to Qixingtan by taxi, fare is usually between NT120 to NT200.