When you think of snorkeling on the East coast, you probably think of going to Long Dong - which is great choice - but if you are looking for something a little less crowded, with equally great water, consider going to Bitoujiao. Located about 10 minutes closer to Keelung than Long Dong, this place offers it all - snorkel rentals, a small beach, protected waters, and all of the amenities that you might need (even a 7-Eleven).
There are several ways to get here
If you are taking public transportation, you should plan how to get back, as the options become increasingly limited later in the day and there is a chance you'll get stuck if you leave after 6PM. This is where having your own scooter really comes in handy, as you don't have to keep an eye on the time. I would recommend renting a scooter from Keelung so you can enjoy the coastal drive and hit the night market on your way back to Taipei!
When you arrive you'll see a small harbor at the base of some hills. On the coastal highway (where you'll be dropped off, if taking public transport) there is a 7-Eleven, and across the harbor is the entrance to the park.
Keep walking along the harbor
Past the shops
At the end of the road is a good place to park
Along the harbor you'll see several shops, including rental gear, a dive shop, and a few restaurants. If you need to rent equipment, the prices are pretty reasonable, about NT$ 100 for the whole kit for a day. They also sell ice cream and cold drinks. If you are feeling hungry, the seafood restaurant makes some very tasty stir fried squid!
As you enter the park, you'll see a few shaded areas to sit, a restroom/shower, and a small temple
This area is ideal for snorkeling - protected from the waves, and not too deep, with lots of corals and fish
Making your way down to the water. We saw a few groups of scuba divers taking off from here
This small cliff offered shade until just after noon
We went mid week, so the crowds were pretty light. This cliff offered a bit of shade until later in the day, when the water rises and eventually meets the cliff bottom. If you take the path at the end of the rocky beach, you'll arrive at the sea barrier between the swimming area and the open ocean, where you will probably see some fishermen.
If you plan to snorkel, definitely wear sun screen, especially on your back, as you won't notice how burnt you are getting until it is far too late (ask me how I know!) Please put it on at least 10 minutes before getting the water, to avoid contaminating the waters and damaging the coral. You'll also definitely want some water shoes, the rocks range between slippery and brutally sharp.
With all that in mind, time to snorkel!
The water is warm and full of life!
Watch out where you're going, or you might run into a sea urchin (Uni!)
This spot is great, especially for beginners, since you aren't ever in danger of being in the open ocean. After a few hours we packed up our stuff, returned our gear and decided to go on the short hike to see the surrounding area. Traveling back along the harbor about 3 minutes, you'll see the entrance to the hiking trail:
The trail can be done as either a loop (about 90 minutes, 110 meters elevation) or an out and back
We opted for the loop
Only half way up and already paying dividends!
The view from the top, looking down on the harbor and north along the coast
Fun little ridge walk with views of the lighthouse
Looking south, with Long Dong Harbor nearby
A cute coffee shop, painted in faux-camo to match the lighthouse on the hill
From here the hike was downhill, leading back along the coast to the outskirts of the harbor. All in all it's a mellow hike with a very nice view at the top, and just enough exercise to work up an appetite for the night market in Keelung!
After the night market, we made it back to Taipei, wrapping up one of the many great destinations near Keelung City / Ruifang Area. So the next time you are feeling like getting a break from the city, why not give Bitoujiao a try? You won't regret it.
Google Maps Link: https://goo.gl/maps/4tfJovgxAjBSrY248
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