Taiwan isn’t well-known for surfing, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any. Taiwan has some epic breaks, especially along the rugged Pacific-facing East Coast. Fortunately for visitors to Taipei, there are also several surf spots near the capital.
If you’re an experienced surfer or have a bit of time, then you’ll probably want to head east to nearby Yilan where there are several breaks and good waves. If you’re a beginner or short of time then you’ll want to head to Taipei’s closest break, Jinshan, which is just 40 minutes by car from the city, and a little over an hour by public transport (there’s more information on how to get there below).
Jinshan breaks both left and right for 50 – 100 meter rides. The waves tend to be on the small side but their size, of course, depends on the weather. When typhoons near the island the can get very big. The best times to surf Jinshan are in the early morning and evening. There’s a shore break that can make it quite difficult to paddle out during the middle of the day.
My Experience in Jinshan
I only got to surf at Jinshan twice during my trip. Both times it was the middle of the day so the surf was super messy and it was nearly impossible to get past the shore break. Understandably, I was pretty much the only surfer in the water.
The first day I surfed despite the conditions because I had just arrived and didn’t know if I’d get another chance. I’m a relatively inexperienced sufrer and can’t read the waves very well. Despite that, I was able to paddle out (after a long exhausting struggle in the shore break) and catch one or two short rides.
The second day I wanted to take photos of the break while the conditions were good. About twenty or thirty surfers paddled out and the waves were about chest high. The weren’t the best-shaped waves I’ve seen, but they were decent and consistent and the locals who knew the break got some beautiful long rides.
When the tide started coming in, all the surfers got out of the water. I put away my camera, and hopped in again, once again battling the shore break to catch a couple of short rides.
Don’t worry about finding a shop to rent a board at Jinshan. There’s probably a dozen on the highway and along the path to the beach. Here is the contact info for a couple of shops that have hostels you can stay at.
The Johnny Rose Surf Club | 強尼玫瑰衝浪俱樂部
83-1, Haising Rd., Jinshan Township | 台北縣金山鄉海興路83-1號1樓
Dorm rooms start at about $9 USD per person per night.
They recommend that you reserve your room two or three days in advance.
The Tube Factory | 波管工廠
91, Haising Rd., Jinshan Township (upstairs) | 台北縣金山鄉海興路91號2樓
Dorm rooms start at about $9 USD per person per night. Private double rooms cost about $24 USD/night. Rooms for four cost about $36 USD/night.
They recommend that you reserve your room a day or two in advance.
Getting to Jinshan
Jinshan can be reached easily from Taipei. It takes around forty minutes to drive there. Locals recommend driving over Yaming Mountain to avoid traffic.
To get to Jinshan on public transportation you have two options:
1) Take the train from Taipei Main Station to Keelung (time: 40 min to 1 hr/price: about $2-3 USD). From there you can take the Keelung Bus (基隆客運) to the mid-cape stop (中角站) (time: 20 min/price $1-2 USD) or taxi (time: 15 min/price: about $12 USD) to Jinshan.
2) Take the MRT to Danshui (time: varies depending on location/price: $2 USD max) where you will take the Danshui Bus (淡水客運) that is headed for Jinshan/Keelung (金山/基隆) to the mid-cape stop (中角站) (time: 1 hour/price: $4 USD).