Taiwan may be renowned for its baseball, biodiversity, bubble tea and beef noodle soup, but it is also perhaps less commonly known for its stunningly scenic beaches and year-round swells, making it a surfer’s delight.
Kaohsiung is located at the very south of the island of Taiwan. Although direct flights to Kaohsiung International Airport are available, we chose to fly into Taipei and then hop on the impressive High Speed Rail (HSR) to Zuoying Station. The business class cabin boasted wide, reclining seats and mid-journey nourishment, but for the relatively short 96 minute journey, the standard carriage would have sufficed.
From Zuoying Station, we hired a car and completed the relatively easy two hour journey down the coast until we reached our destination of Kenting.
Our choice of abode for the long weekend was the delightful Winson House, located around 20 minutes’ drive from the main town. This iconic guesthouse is perched on the picturesque coastline, nestled at the base of the surrounding green-covered mountains. It is also one of the few accommodations that offers direct access to the great surf beach of Jialeshui.
On arrival, we were greeted by an impressive stack of rental surfboards along with the establishment’s three friendly dogs, who clearly relished the slow-paced, tropical climate of the area along with the constant flow of new friends.
Winson, the proud owner of the guesthouse spoke very good English and immediately welcomed us with his laid-back, surfer-dude attitude.
After leaving our shoes at door, we were shown to our double room located on the third floor. There were no lifts available, but the chivalrous staff insisted on carrying our heavy cases all the way up the steep staircase for us.
The room was basic but immaculately presented, packed with all the essentials you could possibly need on a beach getaway. The large double bed with crisp white sheets looked particularly inviting with its display of carefully folded bath towels and neatly arranged slippers. A kettle, bottles of drinking water, large wall-mounted flat screen TV and complimentary WIFI were also provided.
The sizeable bathroom (or rather wet room) featured a shower, a basin and a toilet, but again was spotless, and came complete with organic shampoo and body wash plus disposable toothbrushes and a hairdryer.
Beyond the bedroom, the private balcony was the real crowd pleaser, offering stunning views across the glistening water all the way to the horizon, perfect for a pre and post surf relaxation session.
Surfboard hire from Winson House was very affordable, and the boys who worked there expertly waxed and prepared each board beforehand.
Breakfast was included in our stay package, and was lovingly prepared and served between 8.30 and 10.00am each morning. The food itself was a daily surprise, offering a fresh combination of savoury and sweet flavours which satisfied our appetites until lunchtime.
Although Winson House provides a regular shuttle bus service to the nearby town as well as complimentary bike hire, it was definitely worth having our own car to get around in, as outside the guesthouse, there isn’t a great deal on offer in terms of dining or entertainment.
After three blissful days of complete recuperation and relaxation in Kenting, no sooner had we left the wonderful island of Taiwan before we had logged on and locked in our next trip to our little surfer’s paradise.
SCRUBYSNACKS AREA RECOMMENDATIONS
As well as the obligatory daily surf expeditions, it’s worth taking a leisurely walk from Winson House to the nearby fascinating and pretty awe-inspiring rock formations. A powerful combination of strong winds and waves have shaped and eroded these rocks to create patterns and shapes one would expect to find on another planet.
A trip to the night markets of Kenting is also a particularly eye-opening experience and a chance to savour some of the sights, smells and sounds of this extremely bustling area. Not only did we find seemingly never-ending rows of stalls selling street food, sarongs and straw hats, but we also managed to catch a glimpse of what can only be described as a local drag show consisting of very tall men dressed in spandex and stilettos, launching handheld fireworks into the air. Mesmerising.
A far more low-key evening can be spent at the nearby Hotel de Plus which offers a funky yet relaxed dining experience, with the opportunity to enjoy a Hollywood blockbuster via large projector, surrounded by nothing but the sea and the stars.