Wai'ao Beach (aka Gangao Beach 港澳沙灘, or Wai'ao Ocean Recreation Area 外澳海水浴場) in Toucheng township of Yilan County is one of the most popular surfing destinations in Taiwan. It features a long flat sandy beach and constant waves. It is also a special beach in Taiwan because you have a constant view of another island in the distance, Turtle Island. It is definitely a great beach worth visiting.
The name Wai'ao Beach comes from "Wai (meaning outside)" of the "Ao (meaning harbor)," because the beach is just past Wushi Harbor.
The beach has constant waves and many surf shops and showers nearby.
The beach is usually kept pretty clean and there are umbrellas that you can rent.
The sand is a darker color which means it can get hot in the sun.
Due to the convenient transportation to the beach, it has become one of the most popular beach destinations in northern Taiwan.
How to get there:
By Car: Take national highway 5 east to Yilan and then turn north to Toucheng. There is free parking near the community development center (頭城鎮港口社區發展協會), and the beach is just a short walk from there.
By Train: Take the TRA to Wai'ao train station. It's about an hour ride from Taipei. From Wai'ao station, the beach is literally just a few steps away.
I have been to Wai'ao beach three times. It is one of the nicest beaches in northern Taiwan. Even though the sand is not white, it is clean, has huge wide open space, and excellent waves.
Check out our video above for a bird's eye view of the beach.
If you don't have time to watch the whole video, you can check out our 360 panorama of the beach above.
When I first went to the beach, I parked way north near Wai'ao train station. This was wrong. There is plenty of free parking further south near the community service center. It is much closer to showers and where most of the people are.
for a second I thought this sting ray was real.
There are quite a few surf shops and showers along the levee.
You have to walk through a trail through the trees to get to the beach from here.
We visited this beach on a warm day in March. In the middle of the summer I imagine the sand would be way too hot to stand on. It is pretty dark sand.
Off to the right there is a volley ball court in the sand, and there were plenty of foreigners there playing volley ball.
View of the beach looking north. It stretches pretty far.
Beachgoers enjoying the waves.
Another popular activity here is paragliding. I think there is a shuttle from the beach that takes you to the top of the mountain to paraglide. All the paragliders land on the beach.
You can also rent some umbrellas here.
Another view of beachgoers to the north.
The beach really has an amazing view of Turtle Island. Turtle island (Guishan Island) is a turtle shaped island off the coast of Yilan in Eastern Taiwan. Once inhabited by fisherman, it is now a coast guard base, but is open for day tours. The island tour includes beautiful sea cliffs, hiking, a lake, abandoned village, military tunnels, and whale watching just offshore.
For our full blog on Turtle Island, click here.
More people and animals enjoying the beach.
I think there was an entire surfing school class going on when we were there.
Lots of surfers enjoying the waves.
Another view of the giant waves here.
Above is a set of photos of a surfer underneath Turtle Island.
A man surf's underneath Turtle Island.
View from the air looking north.
View of Turtle Island and beach umbrellas below.
View looking south toward Wushih harbor.
Once you are done, there are plenty of paid showers nearby.
There is a public restroom too, but it was only open from May to October.
While you are in the area, you should also check out Toucheng Old Street pictured above.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our blogs on Taiwan to come!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.