After the bustling city of Taipei and its surrounding Taipei City, we traveled towards the east of the island to the city of Hualien. A laid-back, spread out town right on the eastern coast of Taiwan, the ocean is never far away. There is no better way to explore Hualien than by bike, so we took some time to ride through the city.
Our host in Hualien was kind enough to offer us free bikes to get around. He also suggested the best bike route through the city that eventually leads to Qixingtan beach, which is about 15km one way. It was our first time biking in Taiwan (and the first time I’ve biked in a while) so not going to lie, we were a tad apprehensive but also pretty excited about the whole thing.
After adjusting our bike seats, we left our host’s apartment to ride through center city towards the coast. The roads were a bit chaotic, with cars and motorcycles honking and passing right beside us. We were very careful to go slowly and check multiple times before crossing the street or changing directions. I was pretty nervous in the beginning. After a while though, you get the hang of it. They key is to go slowly and never make sudden turns that the oncoming traffic would not expect.
Our first stop was at a dumpling restaurant where we had delicious pot stickers that were so cheap (only $0.20 per piece). With our tanks refueled and a few more minutes riding through the busy city roads, we reached the shore and one of the nicest bike paths I’ve ever seen. The roads were smooth, nicely paved and well-kept. The vast ocean on the right seemed almost within reach. It was everything you really need for a wonderful biking experience. And the bonus – no cars or motorbikes around to keep an eye on! It was just us, the road and the ocean.
We rode for a while with the beautiful open coast scenery until we reached a wooden arched bridge. After the bridge, the landscape shifted and the route changed from a path along the coast to a path between the trees. At times it felt like a story, riding with endless trees on either side and the sun shining through the leaves. I had never biked anywhere that looked like this.
The bike route eventually led to the port of Hualien, where we stopped to see a few tug boats passing by. That’s where the road merged again with the coastline. We were once again riding by the ocean, but this time with an immense green field filled with concrete blocks on one side and a rocky beach on the other. It was a very simple kind of beauty and we stopped several times to admire the view.
Our final stop was a lighthouse overlooking Qixingtan beach, after some up and down steep slopes. We were lucky enough to arrive there by sunset and enjoy the already lovely view with the bonus of the orange to blue sky. The feelings of freedom and joy that we felt in those moments won’t be soon forgotten. We took some time just to sit and gaze at the horizon, while the sun slowly set to put an end to another day.
The way back was mostly dark, but we rode back the same path that we came. By that point we started experiencing saddle soreness, and our bums would continue to be sore for a few more days. But it was totally worth it. Considering how seldom I ride bikes, I was proud of myself for making it all the way! We headed back for a good night’s sleep to prepare for an early morning at Taroko National Park.
For more pictures from Hualien, visit the gallery!